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Changing Horses Mid-Stream August 3, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Less IS More, People, Spirit & Ego.

As we accumulate experiences, we modify our view of the world.  Our values and life philosophies change over time.

What worked ten years ago may not work for us now.  What works now may not work for us tomorrow.  

We are rarely the same person at forty that we were at twenty. 

As we age, our taste in music, clothes, friends, food, and even careers is apt to change, requiring us to make subtle (and not so subtle) course corrections  to maximize our happiness. 

When we access our inner wisdom to evaluate who we are and what we want out of life, we may realize that our life requires adjusting:

* When we love where we live, we blossom.  If we feel we’ve been planted in the wrong pot, we stop sending out roots. 

* If we enjoy “earning a living,” we give it our best.  When our jobs make us  miserable, our paychecks (no matter how large) seldom reflect the true measure of our sacrifice. 

Changing horses mid-stream can be intimidating. 

We may be afraid to leave the known for the unknown.  Fear of uncertainty can be paralyzing.     

Even if fear is not an issue, we may feel locked into a career decision made decades earlier by a younger, and less experienced, version of ourself.  

Funny, that.  

After all, how many forty-year-olds would hire their twenty-year-old selves to make decisions for them today?   

Not many, I’d wager.

And then there’s inertia.

We realize something about our life is NOT right.  It is a thorn in our side.  But the effort to remove the thorn seems too great.  

Instead of making changes, we moan, whine, and  complain to anyone who will listen. 

We give ourselves permission to do nothing by pretending there is nothing to be done . . . or, at least, nothing that we can do.

I’m so out of shape.  I wish I had time to exercise.  Sigh.  [Reaches for the remote.]

I’m so fat.  I wish I hadn’t gained all this weight.  Sigh.  [Brushes donut crumbs off shirt.]

Man!  I never have enough money to pay all the bills.  I’m in debt up to my eyeballs.  Sigh.  [Heads to mall for retail therapy.]

Sound familiar?

People adding to their own misery by the choices they make, without seeing their contribution to the situation. 

And us?  How do we respond to their laments? 

We commiserate.  We nod and say we understand and life is hard and dreams sometimes die on the vine and . . .

Why do we do that?

Perhaps we want permission from them to live with the thorn in our side? 

Quotes to Ponder:

* Life is not a dress rehearsal.  Quit practicing what you’re going to do, and just do it.  In one bold stroke, you can transform today. ~ Phillip Markins

* The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are. ~ J. Pierpoint Morgan

* The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own.  No apologies or excuses.  The gift of life is yours.  It is an amazing journey and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. ~ Dan Zadra

* We cannot put off living until we are ready.  The most salient characteristic of life is its urgency, “here and now” without any possible postponement.  Life is fired at us point-blank. ~ Jose Ortega y Gasset

* I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning. ~ J.B. Priestley

* Tomorrow’s life is too late.  Live today. ~ Marcus Valerius Martialis

* We are here, and it is now.  What else is there? ~ Kobi Yamada

No rules.  Just write!

Related posts:  Do What You Love * But I Might Die Tonight * Way of the Peaceful Warrior * Discovering Your Secret Identity * Live Your Life


1. Cindy - August 3, 2011

Who was it who said “The harder I work, the luckier I get”? mmm …

SammyDee - August 3, 2011

I don’t know but I like it!

Also, I find the more competitions I enter the luckier I get! 😉 (I love winning things!)

nrhatch - August 3, 2011

Yup. The best way to “win the lottery” is to remember to buy a ticket. 😉

nrhatch - August 3, 2011

The quote is often attributed to Samuel Goldwyn of MGM studios.

It reminds me of a post I did some time ago on luck:

SidevieW - August 3, 2011

many ‘lucky’ people to explain their ‘luck’

2. SammyDee - August 3, 2011

Great post. One thing my dad used to say to me is ‘Live every day of your life’.

nrhatch - August 3, 2011

Your dad = a wise man.

Many people forego living today. They’re so focused on yesterday or tomorrow that they miss the gift of the present.

3. Richard W Scott - August 3, 2011

I like it, Nancy.

Two responses to this:

One, I never changed horses mid-stream. The horse changed while I was busy living each day. I just didn’t make the distinction at the time.

…and, making distinctions about what works, and what doesn’t work, noticing what’s so, and not just “so, what?” I think makes the difference… but then, isn’t that pretty much what you just said?

I like the idea of choosing the life you have before trying to make a new one. It helps balance things out. And choosing to be happy… ah, there’s the trick.

nrhatch - August 3, 2011

Good points, Rik.

Even if we resist change . . . it’s virtually impossible to maintain the status quo. We are shaped by the changing tides.

And, yes, we must start WHERE we are by acknowledging the “what is” rather than just attempting to “wish it away.”

If the thorn in our side is being overweight and out of shape . . . we must realize that we cannot “wish” the weight away. Most of us do NOT have a magic wand at our disposal.

Also, there is no benefit in beating ourselves up over all the BAD choices we’ve made in the past that led to this door. That’s just water over the dam.

If we want to be the architect of our future, rather than the prisoner of our past, we must open our eyes and acknowledge WHERE and WHO we are . . . and then start making BETTER choices.

Just start and the way will appear. 😀

4. Debra Saturday - August 3, 2011

good post Nancy, brings one back to the present. if it is not today then when?:)

nrhatch - August 3, 2011

Life is . . . a constant flow
One horizon merging with the next

Time is . . . ever flowing
with none of us knowing
how long we have left.

We might be just beginning . . . we might be near the end.

5. SuziCate - August 3, 2011

What is the saying “the only constant is change”? While I sometimes fear change, it is what has gotten me where I am, and I know that I’m always headed somewhere else!

nrhatch - August 3, 2011

When we are happy as and where we are, we need not change for change’s sake.

But when we know something’s off kilter . . . we should think about adjusting our sails.

Aah . . . that’s better! 😎

6. SidevieW - August 3, 2011

“just doing it” tends to get you places

nrhatch - August 3, 2011

Every journey begins with a single step . . . any step will do. 😀

7. Rosa - August 3, 2011

Fabulous post, Nancy! I’m about to take a big step and move to another state (again) next in less than a month. Taking that thorn out of my side and curious what will happen next!!

nrhatch - August 3, 2011

Awesome! Moving in one area of our life requires growth and change in “all” areas.

As King Julian would say:
I like to move it, move it! She likes to . . . move it!

Good luck with the move!

8. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide - August 3, 2011

What a great post. It also reminds me of an Onion article about how this man, despite having teenagers, never made a cultural reference past 1991 or something.

nrhatch - August 3, 2011

Thanks, Rufus. Some people are quite resistant to change. If they’re already supremely happy, it’s hard to blame them.

If they aren’t, it’s hard to understand their unwillingness to experiment with life. 😉

9. clarbojahn - August 3, 2011

Some experiments are forced on a person for health reasons. I for one had to give up my nursing job because of back surgery, twice, due to the nursing job. Did you know that nursing is the only profession where 100 lbs is considered light? If you have a person to change, lift or switch positions on that’s 100 lbs or close to it, you are encouraged not to ask for help because everyone is too busy to help for that.

nrhatch - August 3, 2011

Wow! I would never have qualified to be a nurse. The most I could ever lift was 80 lbs.

I do know lots of nurses with back problems.

clarbojahn - August 3, 2011

yes, it’s a high injury profession.
also the lifting is never easy. It’s on paraplegics that can’t help or on weak or comatose patients.And usually you’re bent over at an odd angle unable to use good body mechanics.

People have no idea.

nrhatch - August 3, 2011

Patients present untold challenges to nurses . . . it’s a challenging profession to say the least.

10. Thomas Stazyk - August 3, 2011

Another good quote: “You cannot discover new oceans until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

nrhatch - August 3, 2011

Great quote. A related one: Boats are safe in harbor, but that’s not what boats are for.

Thanks, Thomas.

11. souldipper - August 3, 2011

The post is great, Nancy, and I especially liked, “After all, how many forty-year-olds would hire their twenty-year-old selves to make decisions for them today?”

I’ve thought about this as I step into an office where a woman half my age is ready to advise me about a major portion of my life. I have to take a deep breath. Then I notice the incredible amount of energy she is putting, and has put, into the transaction. I sit back and say, “Oh yeah! I used to love doing that! It is for the young.”

The changes that come about when an outlet for expression (career, passion or job) is no longer a part of life can be both fun and daunting. The ones I planned were fun. It’s the ones that come in on undercurrents, blind corners and sharp edges that have baffled, exhilarated and awed me. Some hurt, but I certainly see the mirror.

I’ve learned I cannot get around the corner without being in motion.

nrhatch - August 3, 2011

Thanks, Amy. Wonderful observations.

I take advice from people younger than me all the time (doctors, financial planners, computer techs/geeks, etc.) but I would NOT defer to my younger self to choose my career (or my attire). 😉

Here’s to turning the corner with style and panache!

12. JannatWrites - August 4, 2011

It drives me nuts when people complain about their life but do nothing to change the situation. Change is going to happen in life, but it doesn’t always have to be drastic. In fact, it can be so gradual that we recognize we’re on a different horse only after the fact.

nrhatch - August 4, 2011

Same here.

I had a friend who constantly complained that she didn’t have time to exercise. I told her that if exercising was truly a priority, she would find the time. She got angry and told me I didn’t understand because . . . blah, blah, blah.

A few weeks later, she’d figured out a way to incorporate exercise into her busy life ~ sit ups in the morning, getting off the train a few blocks before her stop, parking farther from the store and walking, etc.

Perhaps my decision not to “let her off the hook” when she played the “busy card” caused her to get creative?

When we tell people what they WANT to hear, we may think we are being nice, but commiserating with them may not be in their best interest. It’s kinder to tell them what they NEED to hear.

If you tell them to “stop moaning and get off the nail” . . . be prepared for anger.

Ego wants what it wants when it wants it. 😉

13. hugmamma - August 4, 2011

Change is never easy…but it can’t be stopped. So why not hang on for the ride of my life…bumps and all. I can control how high I fly…and how low I slump. At least there’s that. 🙂

nrhatch - August 4, 2011

Thanks, HM! Life is a roller coaster twists and turns and delightful surprises . . . as long as we keep moving. 😀

14. andalibmarks - August 4, 2011

Changing horses midstream isn’t easy. I can tell you out of my own personal experience. But, it’s for the better and that is always a good sign.
Thanks Nancy. This is a great post. One to look back on and say, ‘Yeah, got to remember that.’

nrhatch - August 4, 2011

Thanks, Andi. You have direct personal experience with the truth of Gasset’s quote:

We cannot put off living until we are ready. The most salient characteristic of life is its urgency, “here and now” without any possible postponement. Life is fired at us point-blank. ~ Jose Ortega y Gasset

Remain curious about what waits around the bend.

15. Tilly Bud - August 4, 2011

I love your point that we wouldn’t let our former selves make our decisions now.

For me, this is your best post ever.

nrhatch - August 4, 2011

Thanks, TillyB!

When I stopped practicing law, people tried to convince me that I couldn’t/shouldn’t switch careers because of the “investment” I’d made in obtaining a legal education.

Even after I pointed out that I’d had a good return on that investment for 13 years, they felt I should “stay put” because a younger version of myself had thought that practicing law would be a good use of my time and talents.

If we wouldn’t defer to our 20 year olds selves when choosing our clothes . . . why defer to them on the choice of career? 😉

Education and experience is rarely wasted . . . we’re like those balls of rubber bands growing larger with each added band of experience.

I guess that means we’re Super Balls! 😉

16. kateshrewsday - August 4, 2011

What a wonderful post! Changing horses needs conviction: some days I have lots of that commodity, some days less. Hopefully I have enough to get me through…

nrhatch - August 4, 2011

Thanks, Kate.

If we’re firmly seated in our life saddle, and aren’t developing saddle sores, we may already be exactly where we need to be.

It’s when something “rubs us the wrong way” that we need to take a closer look at what (if anything) can be done about it.

Practicing law gave me “saddle sores” ~ it became a real pain in the ass. 😉

17. eof737 - August 4, 2011

The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are. ~ J. Pierpoint Morgan
I concur. That is why I love this JP Morgan quote… How timely with ll the financial crises of late. 🙂

nrhatch - August 4, 2011

Thanks, E! When we assess the “net worth” of our current lifestyle, honestly appraising its assets and liabiities, we see whether our choices are in line with our priorities.

Often they are not.

When we know WHO we are, we know HOW to live. And we more easily see how to get from Point A to Point B.

18. Naomi - August 5, 2011

Thanks for a brilliant & inspiring post, Nancy! Now to take a deep breath and leap into today 😀

nrhatch - August 5, 2011

I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning. ~ J.B. Priestley

Here’s to finding that bit of magic around the corner! 😀

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