By Tobias van Schneider Published November 22, 2017
We’ve all come to the point where we’ve had enough. Enough of a specific relationship, job, habit, feeling. The “that’s it” moment, when it feels like something’s gotta change, or you won't be able to go on any longer. So you break the habit you’ve been trying to break. You escape a painful relationship you’ve suffered for too long. You quit your job to pursue a dream.
Unfortunately, it often takes an extreme event to trigger that moment. You get hurt, or your hurt someone else, or you lose something important, and suddenly everything is clear. You know undoubtedly that you need to change, and so you do. But what if it didn’t require something bad to spur something good in our lives? What if we could skip the “last straw” moment entirely and still reach the same positive results?
It’s a question Cesar Kuriyama, creator of the “1 Second Everyday” app, has always pondered. On the NTMY Show podcast, Cesar recalls when his friend’s uncle died of lung cancer. It was what finally made his friend decide to stop smoking. He put down his cigarette that day and never picked it up again.
“I’m obsessed with how you get someone to go through that transformation,” says Cesar. “To trigger that without actually hitting rock bottom first.”
The question is tough, because why would we change if we didn’t have a strong reason to? What’s motivating us? Perhaps if it’s not a specific event that triggers a transformation, then the change needs to be internally driven, instead of external.
"You see yourself approaching that line in the sand, and so you turn around."
Some people have strong personal standards. They know who they are, who they want to be and what they deserve. Others have less clearly defined boundaries. Without that internal guide, it’s easier to become complacent or resigned to a situation or habit. You draw your line in the sand only after you’ve already crossed it.
If you already know who you are and have clearly defined what you want for your life, those moments of change come easier. You see yourself approaching that line in the sand, the line you don’t want to cross, and so you turn around. You change by a calculated decision, rather than in sheer desperation.
Create a clear line of sight and you’ll always have a goal to measure against. That goal will propel you forward. It will keep pushing you, changing you, so you don’t find yourself stuck in a place you don’t want to be.
Years ago, I wrote down my Big List, which includes everything I want to do or learn or experience in my lifetime. I carry it with me everywhere and check it regularly. Is what I’m doing right now supporting any of the items on the list? If yes, keep going. If not, change something immediately. I update and cross items off the list regularly. Sometimes I remove items entirely, if I’m no longer interested in them. My Big List keeps me on track and reminds me who I want to be. It helps me change before I’ve gone too far down the wrong path. It helps me avoid the "that's enough" moment.
But still sometimes I'll pass my line in the sand before turning around, as so many of us do.
Perhaps this is who we are as humans. As children, we touch the hot stove and burn our fingers — even after our parents warn us a hundred times not to do it. We touch it anyway because we need to experience the pain to learn; watching or believing someone else isn't always enough.
As wasteful as it sounds, maybe sometimes we need to hit rock bottom first only to grow.
Have a fantastic week,
Hi, I'm Tobias, a German designer living in New York. I'm the author of this blog, nice to meet you!