Living Life is Living Off Course
Last week I flew out to Texas with Dona for YTT Faculty Training. On the plane, I was reading an article about aviation that spoke to the evolution of flying and the highly sophisticated guidance systems planes use now. The most striking thing about this article was despite all the technological advances in aviation, a plane is still off course more than 90% of the time. Not exactly what you want to read while flying on a plane, but poignant nonetheless.
The article explained that weather conditions, turbulence and other unforeseen factors cause the plane to veer off course, so much so that at any given time the plane isn’t headed directly toward its destination. And yet, it often (if not always) arrives at its destination on time. Mind blowing, right?
Throughout the course of the “off course” flight, the pilot is constantly given feedback to make course corrections. These small, continuous adjustments based on external circumstances allow the pilot to bring the plane back on course over and over again.
What was so poignant for me mid-air was that we experience a similar phenomenon in our own lives. At the beginning of the year we’ll make New Year’s resolutions or we’ll finally get crystal clear about the change we desire in our business, relationships or career only to be faced with initial hurdles and resistance to move forward. The day you resolve to create healthier eating habits just happens to be the same day your coworker brings home baked goodies. The moment you finally get crystal clear on what you want in a relationship is when you discover that the person with whom you desire that relationship is no longer available or interested. It’s a bit like that Alanis Morissette song, Ironic.
Life turbulence comes at the onset of any journey and it will nudge you off your course. Sometimes, it will nudge you so far that you feel lost, unsure of your goals or where you should be in life.
Lost. Empty. Unsure. It’s exactly how I felt at the end of last year. And I couldn’t understand why I found myself there. I had the map. I knew my purpose: teaching teachers and developing content for programming. I even had the guidance system to get me there – the core values I live by: integrity, impact, innovation, vulnerability, rest & rejuvenation, connection, growth, freedom.
I’m very clear on what I want, what I’m willing to do to get there and what core values I live by, yet I was still “off course”.
Lesson 1: Recognize when you are off course
This was the first lesson for me and it wasn’t until I was at my breaking point that I even recognized that I was off course.
Pain is usually a wakeup call of sorts and when we fail to make the small autocorrections on a daily basis, we’ll find ourselves so far off course that the pain is that much greater.
Coming back onto our path, requires us to check in with ourselves:
What’s working for me in (area of life) and why?
What’s not working for me in (area of life) and why?
What changes do I need to make and what impact will it create?
What potential setbacks or challenges are present? How can I minimize or avoid them?
Who are 10 people who will support me?
What do I need to learn from these experiences?
What do I need to do more of and why?
What do I need to do less of and why?
These questions allow you to pause, check-in and realign where you are to where you want to be. It’s important to remember there’s no “right” or “wrong” answers. You are simply checking in for feedback so that you can course correct to what feels more aligned for you.
When I sat with these questions, questions I only found myself asking at my lowest point, I realized I was struggling with where I was because I was surrounded by so much that wasn’t in line with my values. Double standards, a complete disregard for integrity, zero focus on growth and recognition, freedom and vulnerability – no wonder I felt so off course!
Lesson 2: Stay on course even if you get resistance
Bear with me here for a moment. This lesson doesn’t negate the one prior because you need resistance. That initial sign of life turbulence is a sign to realign (too much, however, might indicate you need to alter your course – more on that in a moment).
Think of it this way – when you want to build your bicep muscle, or any muscle for that matter, you can’t simply think about getting stronger or examine a picture of how you want your muscle to look. You need resistance. The same principle holds true here.
I needed to be up against some big ass hurdles to grow my leadership, voice and vision. I needed to work with people who don’t walk their talk so that I could get back on my course.
When we confront resistance, it’s vital that we examine where we are misaligned: the places where our values don’t align with our goals or where our words don’t match our actions. It’s imperative we admit our mistakes and can be brutally honest with ourselves and how we’re showing up (or not showing up). It’s imperative we can be hyperaware of ourselves so that we can make the necessary course corrections. Without awareness, we’re flying blindly on hope and bullshit excuses.
Lesson 3: Resistance is a sign you are on the right path. Redirect. Redirect. Redirect.
You know how the plot line of a good book or movie thickens right before the hero/heroine comes out on the other side? That resistance, the mounting tension, is a sign we’re on the right path.
Resistance is a sign that whispers: redirect. redirect. redirect.
Detours and challenges – the turbulence of life – is a sign you are on the path to your destination. It’s an awakening call for the lessons you need to learn in order to move forward to the next leg of your journey.
The resistance I faced (and in some ways that I’m still up against), is exactly what I needed to fully show up with conviction and clarity. In order to break through my barrier of where I was and where I wanted to be, in order to not sell my values to the highest bidder just to “get ahead”, I needed to soften in the storm.
Lesson 4: Sometimes you need to re-route entirely
Sometimes the tropical islands seem like a great idea until you find yourself there during a very busy hurricane season. In those moments where the resistance is so strong, where we’ve done everything we could to stay the course but the pain is too much, we may find we need to readjust our flight pattern.
I had to plot new coordinates when I wasn’t supported in my role as Studio Manager and when I wasn’t surrounded by my values. I had to redirect my focus when I didn’t land the role of Master Trainer. In both of these situations I had to come back my vision, and more importantly, my values. I had to keep recalculating my path so that I could get where I was going. The vision hadn’t changed and in my heart I know I’m meant to lead people and teachers so that they can evolve their bodies, minds and spirits.
Just because we change direction slightly, doesn’t mean we won’t get where we’re going.
The reality is you can be off course more than 90% of the time, experience regular setbacks, and still accomplish your dreams and goals.
And that’s because the “problem” isn’t getting off course – that’s a necessary (and even welcome) part of the adventure. The problem is failing to correct when we’re misaligned.
Your path in life won’t be a straight shot. Ever. But just like a pilot must make small changes to keep the plane on its intended path, you have to make choices – big and small – throughout your day, week, month and year to make sure you are aligning your values with your goals.
Life will inevitable get “off course” but, in many ways, living life is living off course. Being on the adventure of living your life requires you to continually redirect, refocus, realign and it’s those tiny redirects where the magic happens and the next adventure unfolds.
This week check in with yourself: What slight adjustments can you make toward your goals? Where are you heading and is that where you want to be going?
Take Your Life to the Next Level
Self-exploration is the greatest tool we have to expand our life and all life has to offer. And, if you’re ready to take your life to the next level, our Yoga Teacher Training will do just that.
I learned more about myself in those 9 weeks than I did over the last 9 years of my life! Doing YTT has transformed how I think, move and live: I learned how to really love myself; I learned the power of breath and that sometimes breathing is the hardest thing to do; I learned how to really be vulnerable and not just skirt the surface of what I was feeling; and I learned to move beyond the physical and that sometimes yoga makes you feel like shit so that you can work through your shit. I could go on and on, but the best experience is to experience it firsthand.
Find out more about our LifePower Yoga Teacher Training Program, starting this Fall at LifeTime Fort Washington. Space is limited and early bird registration ends August 15th.