Change starts slowly.
Women hire me because they long for change. They want to feel more fulfilled in their relationship with their significant other. They want the business they started to be more successful. They want to be fully present with their kids after the workday is over (even when emails and texts continue finding them at home). They want to feel less overwhelmed, less stressed, and more worthy of an incredible life.
These women not only long for change; they long for change that happens quickly and easily. And they don’t want to get stuck along the way in what I refer to as the “ditch of despair.”
The Ditch of Despair
What is the ditch of despair? Picture yourself standing on the edge of a wide ditch. Unending rain makes it difficult to make out the other side, and the expanse before you is filled to overflowing. To move forward, you must cross this ditch. But it seems nearly impossible to leap across the gap.
Where you’re standing is where you’re at in life now. The other side is where you want to be. That’s the side with your achieved change. The obvious obstacle is the deep, murky water in that expansive ditch. We don’t know what’s in it. We don’t know exactly how deep it is. We don’t know how far we’ll fall if we aren’t able to leap over it. And your biggest question—if you don’t make it clear to the other side, will you stumble and fall all the way to the dark, muddy bottom of the ditch—is on repeat in your mind.
Change is uncomfortable.
It makes sense that we don’t want to fall in. The ditch of despair is where the hard work happens. It’s where we hone in on our thinking about our relationship or business or kids or worth. It’s where we tune into what those thoughts make us feel and what actions those feelings prompt us to take. It’s where we become intentional and move away from the status quo we’re used to. Yes, the ditch is where the work of achieving change happens, but it’s also where the mud squishes between our toes.
The ditch of despair reminds me of a kitchen remodel my husband and I did many years ago. My job was to empty our cabinets and put the contents in piles on the floor of our dining room. As I stacked plates, cups, saucers, and cheese graters all over that dining room, I looked at our three kids and wondered how this was going to work. We had a one-, four-, and six-year-old who passed through that dining room to get from their bedrooms to the living room multiple times per day, and they brought their curiosity with them everywhere they went.
Because the remodel was happening outside my husband’s regular work hours, it wasn’t moving as quickly as I would have liked. There were many times I wanted to reload those old cabinets and put everything back in its place. The obstacle course in our dining room was far too inviting for the kids, and I told myself decades-old cabinets weren’t as bad as the policing of the dining room I was doing all day every day.
Keep your goal in your sights.
We did end up with a renovated kitchen complete with new cabinets, countertop, appliances, and flooring, but it wasn’t easy getting there. When I looked at our shiny new room, I knew it was worth the hassle of keeping the kids out of everything (not to mention the hassle my husband had of actually doing the work), but when we were in the middle of it, I wanted to give up.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but when I wanted to reload those old cabinets, I was in my own ditch of despair. To me it seemed so much easier to just go back to what I was used to—an old kitchen with cabinets that were slowly falling apart, appliances that worked when they wanted to, and flooring that was literally coming apart at the seams.
Change requires hard work and thoughtful effort.
I wanted a new kitchen, but I didn’t want the aggravation. I wanted to get it quickly and easily—the same way my clients want to achieve the changes they long for. We all want change that doesn’t result in getting mud between our toes, but that kind of change is unrealistic. I like the way Dolly Parton puts it best: “The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”
Accomplishing desired change is possible. To those willing to put in the work required, I’d go so far as to say it’s inevitable. You just have to be ready for the fall when your leap across the ditch doesn’t go as planned. And really, a little bit of mud never hurt anyone.
Stay tuned next month for tips on how to make it through your own ditch of despair! And to those ready to leap across your own ditch, schedule a call with Tracy to get it started!