When my kids were young, transitioning through toddlerhood, they were a riot. Much like a litter of small puppies, my brood spent a lot of time mopping the floor as their limbs sprawled in all directions. We ascertained that one of the reasons for this comical and boisterous display was that their little feet and their faces were not going in the same direction.
Thus, one of our family directives:
Your feet and your head need to be going in the same direction.
Today, many people are in the middle of transition. Just as my children had to learn the art of keeping their face and feet pointed in the same direction, even we adults have to relearn this skill with each new transition.
One of the greatest temptations in times of stress is the remembrance of how things ‘used to be.’ Just this weekend I read a book that referred to “2008, when the market was booming and jobs were plentiful.” 2008 wasn’t that long ago, but now we face an unemployment rate of over 10%, and it is expected to remain high for the time being. It is easy to spend our time thinking about what was, and hoping it will come back soon.
When change happens quickly, it is hard to get our head around the new reality. It is hard to ‘face forward’ so that our feet and our face can go in the same direction. Our mind is used to getting up and going to a regular job. Our goals were situated around career advancement in that job. Many of us define at least a part of ourselves by the 10 to 12 hours a day we spend making a living. Consequently, we find ourselves stumbling through job interviews and redirection campaigns with an instability akin to a new fawn on ice.
How can we gain traction? What are some of the skills one can use to refocus their feet and head in the same direction?
Let go of the past. When things are going steady, we have a picture in our head that we are aiming for. Every action we do is a brush stroke in that picture. When life changes, we have to let go of that picture. We are not going to aim for a new picture until we let go of the old picture in our head.
Be open to new ideas. This may be our opportunity to expand a part of life that has only been a dream, or it might be a time to build skills in some areas that we are lacking. If we have already defined ourselves, then we won’t be open to a new definition. We are never too old to become something new. Grandma Moses didn’t start painting pictures until the age of 76.
Look for a direction. There is an element to life that is deeper than the practical. There are opportunities and adventures of the soul available to us, and we often find their trailheads during these times of life when everything is off-kilter. Dare to dream, but then take the risk and put your feet into your dream.
As we look for new direction, God promises to help. In the Bible, James says “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” Throughout the Bible, we find that when people are willing to wait for God’s answers, they find unexpected, creative solutions even in situations that look impossible.