I was watching the “Bourne Identity” last night again and was struck by the scene where Jason and Marie are in the diner enjoying their coffee. Jason tells her that he’s already cased the joint for the best exit; he knows where the best getaway car is parked. He knows how to get out if the situation goes sideways.
It reminded me of a conversation I recently had with a friend, where we both admitted at one point or another to having “one foot out the door.”
The problem with always thinking about an escape route is that you don’t invest in the current situation – you don’t give it your full attention and you don’t give it a chance.
A job that you don’t dedicate yourself to because you’re always looking for some way out becomes unsatisfying.
A relationship that you don’t invest in withers because you don’t commit to making it the best it can be.
Everything in our life thrives with attention. When we’ve got one foot out the door, we don’t give our lives a chance to thrive. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: we expect a situation to fall short so we don’t invest the energy required to make it succeed.
But what if you couldn’t leave?
What if you HAD to stay, and make the best of a situation?
I’ve played this game with myself with dramatic results. The apartment that was driving me batty, the job that was boring me to tears. I asked myself, what if I couldn’t leave? What would I do differently?
The job became more engaging because I dug in and started doing stuff to make the best of it. The apartment became more livable because I cleaned it and bought some comfortable furniture.
The relationship… well, that’s a different story. Sometimes pretending you can’t leave makes you realize how essential it is to do so. Quickly. And that provides its own clarity.
Try this journaling exercise at home. Think about a situation you’re in right now that’s not going how you’d like. Maybe you want to leave your job but you can’t afford to right now. Maybe your relationship or your living situation is not optimal.
What if I couldn’t leave?
See if making the best of what you’ve got makes the situation a little more livable.
Or if it makes you realize it’s time to take that “one foot out the door” and turn it into two!
Maybe it’s time for a vacation. Maybe it’s time for delegation. Here are some journaling prompts for finding out where and when it’s time to rest.
Like you, I am a Very Important Person. This world will screech to a halt without my mastermind to oversee its daily operation. Right? Booking a vacation seems absurdly luxurious, but I did it anyway. I approached the time off with mixed feelings of terror and relief. I didn’t realize how badly I needed it until it was underway.
If it’s time for a physical break but funds are tight, get creative. Most of us can’t afford to high-tail it off to a spa weekend in the mountains. But maybe there’s an Air BnB one town over you could spring for. No airfare needed. Or maybe a friend is going on a spa weekend in the mountains and you can “house sit” for her.
If it’s not a physical vacation you need but a break from a behavior, person, or responsibility, try to get clarity using these prompts. Then brainstorm who you can delegate the responsibility to. You may find it difficult to ask for help. I used to have a hard time doing that. Until I discovered how awesome it is to have your partner do the laundry. I got over it pretty quickly.
Is there a person you need a break from? Sometimes negative people suck our energy away without us realizing it. If you’re dreading your weekly brunch with a friend, maybe it’s time to take a break from that brunch – or that friend.
I’m really tired of __________________.
If I could hand over one task, it would be ______________.
I’m really sick of ___________ saying _____________.
I don’t want to listen to ____________ anymore.
I don’t want anyone to know how much I want to stop ________.
I’m ashamed to admit it, but I really resent doing ____________.
My post What’s Not Working in Your Life? has an exercise I use frequently that you may find helpful in having a look at your current obligations, which actual examples from my own journal.
Sometimes we resent things or need a break from responsibilities that it seems there’s no option to let go of. You can’t drop your kids off at the nearest orphanage so you can kick back in the backyard with Mai Tais and a good Romance novel.
But I’ll bet you can lighten your load in other ways. Trade child care responsibilities with another parent. Hand over the kids for the day to your partner, if you have one. Or splurge on a babysitter. Sometimes it only takes two hours spent on yourself to restore your equilibrium.
Set aside some time this week in your journal to ask yourself where you might need a break. And then be a total rebel and honor that need. It’s weird and scary at first – I know. But we need to nuture ourselves in order to avoid burnout.
Plus once you get a little taste of freedom, it’s hard to go back!
I’ve gotta tell you – I’ve been having really weird dreams lately.
I usually have a colorful nightlife, but the past week or two my dreams have been crazy. I started writing them down in my morning journaling session. At first it was out of necessity, but soon I was doing it out of curiosity.
I’ve been looking for patterns. I’ve never believed in those one-size-fits-all dream interpretation guides. Plus, as Freud famously said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” But translating my dream scenarios into themes has been very eye opening.
I often feel that daily journaling prevents your subconscious from getting away with much. But maybe the subconscious is super sneaky, and it always looks for a way to disguise what it’s up to. Dreams seem to be the back door.
This week, try journaling your dreams.
Not only does it make for entertaining future reading, but it can offer insight into what’s really going on behind the scenes. As an added bonus, I’ve discovered that keeping a dream journal actually helps me dream more — or at least I am starting to remember my dreams much more clearly. There’s some weird stuff going on between these ears at night!