I like to compare this to a driver. When the tires on a vehicle are worn out and ready to burst, some people recognize that change is important in life, and go out and buy a fresh set to safely get them from place to place. Other people keep driving on those tires until they're down to the rims, and they still don't want to give up on them -- they believe that what is certain is better, even if what is certain, has become dangerous.
This sounds like a silly example when we're talking about tires and danger, but what ways does having a stagnant life endanger a person? High stress. Relationship problems. Confusion. Apathy. Depression. These are all side effects of not occasionally switching old worn out things in our lives for new fresh ones, when they are truly needed.
So why would anyone keep an old set of beat up, dangerous tires? Because they are used to them. We all recognize this feeling. It's like a child with a favorite -- but smelly -- toy they refuse to give up.
There are people who focus on all the good times they had on those tires and don't want to let go. They're content with keeping things the same. They don't realize the risk and danger of not changing the old tires for new ones, dangerously waiting for the day they explode. Content to drive on the rims, if necessary.
Sometimes not changing is truly more dangerous than taking what appears to be a "risk." Sure, the new tires may wobble a bit and may need to be adjusted. But old ones are guaranteed to soon fall apart. The same is true with trying new things in our lives -- welcoming new careers, new friends, new places, and freshness into our days.
But to most people, the urgency of continuing to grow, develop and adapt as a person is some "out there" concept. They don't see the danger and risk of their life becoming worn down and lacking something new.
Coach-able people are NOT driving on the rims. Instead, they are focused on changing the tires. Usually, they are facing big challenges and want coaching to help achieve their future goals faster -- celebrities dealing with constant criticism, CEOs working 15-hour days who have forgotten why they climbed the ladder in the first place , entrepreneurs with products that are about to change the marketplace who currently lack support for their vision.
When we change things, we need an anchor point to keep us steady, so we can live with clarity, support and focus.
But for people who are "driving on the rims" and afraid to make a new change, the very idea of Life Coaching is threatening. A coach helps a person examine every aspect of their life, looking for hidden dreams, talents and future potential. This all means on thing -- change for the better. But shedding those old worn out lives can be scary.
For most people in our society, clinging to the present is the goal -- even if that life is not what they want. Think of how many people you know who have not changed their lives in a major way in 10 years. Or 20 years. Or more! The same job, the same relationships, the same living situation, etc.
This is fine if a person is truly happy and evolving. But if they are living a strained life, in a job they hate, a mediocre or disappointing love relationship, unhappy family relations, friends that are more like aquaintances. A living situation that could be worse, but could also be much better! An entire life that could be worse -- but could also be much, much better. Why?
They don't think anything else is possible. But if they did, how would their lives change? Would they have the guts to finally change those uncomfortable tires and try something new?
All humans fear the unknown. But some members of the population are willing to stand up and give birth to a new life, and let go of the things that really don't matter in the scheme of things.
Recently, a professional at a cocktail party in Manhattan asked me about coaching. However, his questions were challenging. He grilled me about what coaching was and arrogantly made fun of the process. I had seen this before.
When I explained that "coaching helps you reach your future personal or professional goals faster, by clarifying what you really want and what is standing in your way," he responded by saying "I've got a mother for that." He repeated it twice and then looked off smugly.
Here is a perfect example of a person, who appears to be successful to others, continuing to drive on the rims instead of trying something new. Money, looks, power -- none of these things matter if you're living a stagnant life, you will not be happy. You will not make as much money as you otherwise could. And when your life is done, you will look back and wonder why you didn't do all of those things you had once dreamed of.
This is not what I want for my clients. I want each of my clients to lay on their death bed having lived every drop of life, and to die exhausted and happy -- with absolutely no regrets.
Looking back, it is usually the things we didn't do that we regret. Think of all of those moments you missed. You can learn from mistakes, but you can never get those lost moments of hesitation back.
We can all pretend for a very long time -- years, decades -- that everything is OK. But eventually, after the tires explode, and we've driven on the rims too long, even those rims will give out -- call it a mid-life crisis, a quarter-life-crisis, a teenage crisis -- and at this point a person has to either change and continue to evolve, or spiritually, die, and live life as a walking zombie.
You see these zombies everywhere. They blend into the background because they are not evolving, so they are not really living, but just existing like a person in a coma, who is still able to walk.
Change is the essence of life. What is new keeps us fresh. Otherwise, life is like a child who has given up on learning to walk, or decided to stop growing becase it's too much work and being 3 feet tall isn't so bad, right?
As adults, our growth is not so obvious. And our lack of growth is easily hidden behind shiny cars and impressive job titles. But when we stop growing, we stagnate. This is why we feel most alive when we do something that terrifies us. That fear is an indication that we are doing something new. This is an essential part of life, as much as rest, water and food. To not grow, is to die. Every day that we are not growing, we are essentially dying inside.
That is life. We need the opposites in combination -- stability and newness, pain and joy, day and night, etc. We need all parts of this equasion to be happy. If we remove the newness part, the equasion equals unhappiness.
Coach-able people get this. I don't need to even bring it up. But 99 percent of the population is not open to the idea. Look around your town at faces today. See how many are happy. Those happy ones are growing, changing, exploring, becoming something new -- whether they are teachers, factory workers or CEOS, they are all growing into themselves and standing with their weight under their feet, becoming all that they were meant to.
They are alive and you see it in the glint in their eye, the color on their cheeks, the excitement to just inhale each breath.
The unhappy ones? You don't notice those as easily, because they are half-alive. Their eyes glazed. Their thoughts stagnant. Their bodies are barely walking and their souls are half-dead. That is what stagnation does to a person. It is the long-term result of "making do." And each minute a person "makes-do" the harder it is to break away from. The more intense the cycle of stagnation becomes.
It is what I, as a life coach, want to fight against. The "living-dead." It is a sad way to exist, and something I don't want anyone to have to experience, because we're all meant for joy.
So I do hope that someday, that professional will realize there is more to him than his job title, shiny tie and blackberry -- that he too deserves to be happy! That there is more to him than labels. That to be alive, fully, and feel each moment strongly is as possible for him, as for anyone. To feel joy like a child running through the wilderness in search of life.
This is what I want to help people become. Alive.
Want to find the best life coach for you and your goals? Need a new life? Career or personal dreams? Find out more about Life Coaching. I'm Julie Melillo, a NYC Certified Life Coach serving professional, ambitious clients in-person in New York City and over the telephone and internet -- I coach financial traders, attorneys, entrepreneurs, artists and anyone creating a big, brand new life.