Becoming Breakproof – Happy 2024, friends! This is the time of year when many of us are feeling ready to get out there and start crushing the goals we’ve set. After all, THIS is finally going to be the year we lose those extra pounds/finish our degree/find a new job/move to a new city… right?
Let me confess something: this is kind of how I feel all the time. There’s something called the Kolbe A Index that measures instinctive strengths, and I got the highest possible score in the “quick start” category. This means that I’m naturally fearless about trying new things; I latch on to an idea and go all-in on it. It also means that I’m exceptionally hard on myself about quitting, as I equate it with giving up and failing myself. Let me tell you a story that illustrates this to a T.
About ten years ago, I took my first ride on a friend’s private plane. The convenience and ease of this brand of travel was mindblowing to me. No “arrive two hours before departure” rules, no security lines to scramble through, and the food on the plane was borderline Michelin-star quality. I quickly began fantasizing about what it would look like if I had my own plane. No longer would I be “that person” on a commercial aircraft with seven children under the age of ten.
Within two days of returning home after this experience, I had my first meeting with Dave, my newly hired flight instructor. I drove home from my initial classroom session jamming to the song Kokomo by The Beach Boys, envisioning my family and I lounging next to crystal clear waters and feeling just as relaxed on vacation as we had been getting there.
Halfway through the course, my interest was waning. My instructor took two of my kids on a flight above our house one day, and what I thought was going to be this amazing experience was more or less a constant recital of the following:
- Please don’t poke your brother.
- Please don’t kick the seat.
- No, there is not a bathroom here.
- Let’s play the silent game.
- Let’s keep our body parts on our side of the aircraft.
- No, there is not a TV on this flight.
How I had convinced myself that I could be the pilot and maintain order in the plane is still a mystery.
At the same time, the intensity of flight school started to wear on both me and my family. It took all the willpower I had to attend classes, and my kids didn’t make things any easier by begging me not to go. The habit of constantly scanning for danger. An all-important skill in flying – bled into my home life and sucked the joy out of being a parent (remember, I have seven children and potential problems are everywhere). I also found out that becoming a pilot would wreak havoc on my insurance premiums. It was somehow more financially sound to own a yacht than a plane.
Perhaps needless to say, I never took the final exam to earn my pilot’s license. I had technically quit. Just like what inevitably happens when we fall short on New Year’s resolutions, it would have been easy to let feelings of guilt and disappointment creep in. After all, I am staunchly not a quitter.
But what did quitting really mean? Was it stopping completely? Or perhaps just pausing? Did it mean taking a break? Turning around? When I really thought about it, flying just didn’t hold the same appeal to me that it once did. By repositioning, I opened up time to invest in things that really did light me up. Life is meant to be experienced, and we would never dare to try anything new if we had to take it all the way home every single time. So, by all means, explore, experience, and adventure. If along the way you feel pulled left instead of right, follow that instinct.
Unearth your rationale for wanting to change direction. Growing up, you may have been told that you weren’t allowed to quit something (like the school play, for example) just because you didn’t feel like doing it or were nervous. When you feel like moving on from a goal or idea as an adult, unpack the root of that emotion. Are you uncomfortable with how much you’re being pushed out of your comfort zone? This means you’re growing, so consider sticking it out a bit longer. Are you bored or feeling pulled in a different direction by something that lights you up more? Listen to what your gut is telling you.
Ask yourself, “Am I still growing if I stop doing this?” By investing our time in one thing, we consequently are making the decision to not pursue another. For example, it’s possible that I never would have become the first woman to climb the Seven Second Summits had I forced myself to stick with pilot lessons. If the first thing doesn’t make you grow, give yourself permission to change direction and find something that does.
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