Breakthroughs can come at unexpected times, but what do you do while you’re waiting? What do you do when it feels as though whatever you are facing will go on forever? You keep going. You keep going because nothing lasts forever and, just like searching for the exit in a pitch-dark room, there is always a door waiting to be found. What’s more, when you find the way out, you will realise you were closer to a breakthrough than you thought.
I spoke with a client recently, for whom life is working well at the moment. However, for eight months around the turn of the year it seemed as though his life was anything but enjoyable. Nothing was working. The life he knew seemed to be falling apart; friendships had changed and work had transformed itself from a satisfying experience into a chore which demanded so much effort just to perform even the simplest of tasks.
I worked with him on the basics: write a to-do list and use it to structure his day and plan his week. He persevered but got nowhere. Three months ago he contacted me saying it wasn’t working with the list. He was neglecting it and struggling to establish even the simplest of routines onto which he could hold fast. I replied:
That’s all fine. It’s a case of getting used to the new routine. Keep trying. Every day is a chance to establish the routine. Put it off if you want, but at some point you will just have to get on with it. This may take days, weeks or months to get used to. You need to be disciplined, but you will get there.
He kept on going but nothing happened. He grew frustrated, almost desperate, but he kept looking for a way to move forward. Five weeks ago, from one day to the next, something shifted. He points to a change he made in the way he communicates with people – choosing to be more open, more often – as the catalyst for the shift, but he is also well aware of the hard work he put in over the months before. He is living life more fully now, enjoying the fruits of his commitment and routines; and our conversations these days are much more about staying aware and staying grounded as he establishes himself on a new plateau.
He succeeded because he kept going. I mentioned this post to a beloved friend of mine as I was writing it. She is someone I look up to for her ability to handle and embrace life, and her response was wonderfully succinct: ‘Well, if you don’t keep going, you’ll certainly never get there.’ Persist even when it seems futile and know that, in all likelihood, you are closer to a breakthrough than you think.