Thanksgiving. A glorious time complete with family, food, football and fun. And, if you are like me, it’s also the perfect time to rake those leaves and prepare for the impending winter.
Over the long break, the whole family attacked our yard with conviction. After a lot of hard work, we finally corralled the leaves and arranged them into a compact, neat pile. Mission accomplished and a job well done! We went to bed that night with a peaceful feeling of closure.
But the winds kicked up as we slept. And in the morning, there were leaves all over the neighborhood. Sorry, Quinns!
We raked again in the afternoon. This time, we put all the leaves into bags and lined them up in three perfect lines. But the next morning leaves from other neighbors and other trees littered our lawn. It seemed as though we were doing all the work and getting nowhere!
The Sisyphean task of raking the leaves did not seem fair. Where was the leaf justice? When would it end? After a few days, we finally finished the job. But it was a lot harder and more complex than we had originally anticipated.
And isn’t that the way it goes at certain times in our work and personal lives?
The Finish Line Moves on Us
In our work lives, we start out tackling certain projects with determination. We think we understand the scope and the effort required to achieve success. But oftentimes, the finish line is much further in the distance.
The sale is nearly complete. And then an unforeseen factor is introduced late in the deal and we are back at square one. Our business has finally turned the corner. Profitability is at hand! But then a new competitor enters the landscape and we have to re-configure our business plan. It seems we have finally figured out the market. But we wake up the next morning and the entire system is in chaos.
Any worthy pursuit is never going to fit into a neat pile. Any worthy dream requires more work than we originally anticipate. There are swirling leaves all over the lawn of our work lives. We must summon the resilience and work ethic to keep raking until we reach our goals!
Work Through the Frustration
The same is true in our personal lives.
Our partnership is designed to split the work right down the middle. But slowly we end up shouldering more of the burden. It seems our marriage has settled into a comfortable pattern. But life introduces change and the roles become more complex. It seems we have enough money to last through retirement. But those neat piles of money can blow away if we are not careful.
Partnerships rarely feel equitable. But it requires each partner to do more than 50% of the work to get the job done. Marriages are supposed to change over time. Adjusting to a new dynamic is better than remaining stagnant. Everyone thinks they have figured out their financial future. But oftentimes the inputs to the model change and we need to dig deeper.
Shifting leaf piles in our personal lives can cause bitterness and frustration. But we must understand that our leaves may drift into our neighbor’s yard and other leaves can blow into our own yard. There is no “fair” on “unfair”. It’s just the way it is. And we are not the only ones stuck with a mess!
We can’t feel like a victim. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. If we stop raking and complain, the leaf piles will only grow. What good does that do anyone?
Keep on Raking
There will be times when everything in our lives is clicking. Our job is rewarding and exciting. Our relationships are fulfilling and meaningful. Our financial situation is rock solid and robust. Our partnerships are mutually beneficial and equitable. The leaves are corralled in bags and lined up neatly on the curb.
But no one is immune from strong gusts of wind and swirling leaves. Sometimes they come in all directions and it becomes overwhleming. We hit a wall in our career. Our relationships turn flat. Our financial footing slips. We take on more than our fair share of the work. How can we go on?
Rake the lawn. We may go to bed feeling as though everything is under control. Change happens. That is life. Get out of bed and do it again!
Ignoring the leaves won’t help your situation. Blaming others for the swirling leaves won’t make them go away. We need to keep raking!
Effort! Patience! Stamina! Persistence! These are the building blocks of resilience!
Eventually the piles will get smaller. And with enough hard work and faith, the leaves will be gone entirely. At least until next year.
Keep on raking.