On motzaei Shabbos, I took the “long” route home from maariv. It’s about two minutes longer than if I had used the shortcut. But because of heavy rain that fell just minutes before, the shortcut was muddy and treacherous.
So, I decided to take the “long” way home to save myself the possibility of slipping and soiling myself, which would have made the “short” way “long” (I hope you’re following me on this). Which, come to think of it, I’ve been doing for most of my life.
At no point in my post high school years, from studying in yeshiva, to pursuing two master’s degrees and semicha, to teaching, to school leadership, to coaching, to delivering training and keynotes, to completing my doctorate, did I ever try to take a shortcut.
I knew that if I was going to succeed, I would need to invest myself fully in each process, so that I could overdeliver when the time came. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t fast. But it eventually put me on track for success in so many areas. Which now feels fast compared with where I see many of my peers. So many people want fast results without being willing to put in the time to develop themselves. To that I say, take the long, short road.
On a related note, sometimes our biggest, most difficult journeys are over small distances that seem to span miles. Maybe it’s a strained relationship at home or at work where, despite physical closeness and easy access to conversation, we seem so far away from those around us. Perhaps the issue is with us, where we cannot access a solution or find a pathway forward despite knowing ourselves better than anyone else.
But because we live our lives the same way, day after day, we fail to see that we can live that much more fully, with greater joy and conviction, than we presently are.
In the heat of the moment, it can be hard to become reflective and consider different ways of thinking and acting. Sometimes, the best way to bridge the gap that divides us from our better selves and a more fulfilling life is to step away and take a 30,000-foot view of things.
Here are some questions to consider asking yourself from time to time:
- How are my relationships with those who I most care about? What would make them even better? What’s holding me back from enjoying them more?
- What self-doubts and inner gremlins are preventing me from maximizing my potential?
- Is there enough balance between my work and life outside of work? How can I keep from burning the candle at both ends?
- How does my vantage point of the world and the people around me affect my relationships and general sense of happiness?
It has been said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got.” Sometimes, the best way to succeed in life is to take a step back (or a trip away) to reflect and ask the hard questions that can push us to achieve more and live more fully.
Naphtali Hoff, PsyD, is an executive coach and president of Impactful Coaching and Consulting (ImpactfulCoaching.com). He can be reached at 212.470.6139 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.