“If you can’t get out of it you’d better get into it.”
Unknown quote from Outward Bound
Good morning, friends. I hope you are well today wherever you are. The first month of the new year is about to be over and I struggle to believe that fact. Time flies so let’s waste no more.
During a drive this weekend I listened to a podcast by Dr. Tim Pychyl, a foremost expert on procrastination. Having read and listened to a fair bit of Dr. Pychyl’s work I can say there’s a lot more to procrastination than I ever, ever imagined. More on that another day. Today I want to reflect on the quote he shared.
In so many situations in our lives the challenge does not become real or clearly aware to us until we are fully invested in the experience. Compare the idea to climbing a rock wall without a belay (a rope system to prevent falling and harm). At the bottom of the rock wall the challenge seems nil; what harm is a step or two? As confidence builds in the early stages one might find oneself up a fair number of feet but still far from the top. At some point the challenge becomes real: going up will take a lot, maybe more or less than you have; going down has risk, too. At this moment the body fills with emotions of fear, anxiety, frustration, etc. What does one do in the middle of the rock? The wise Outward Bound instructor says, “If you can’t get out of it you’d better get into it.”
Most of us will never climb a rock wall but we will take crazy brave steps into challenging life situations. A relationship. A job. A responsibility. A possession. Many challenges confront us in life and sometimes we find ourselves halfway up the rock before we understand the real challenge. What do we do? Well, we do have options, yes? We can flounder in fear. We can delay in failure by procrastinating. We can flee, creating harms for self and the situation. But the wisdom of the Outward Bound instructor still stands, “If you can’t get out of it you’d better get into it.” What does that tell us? Stop looking at the challenge and start looking at the next step. Don’t worry about the end; be confident in the moment. Quit thinking about what you want to get out of and focus on the steps you can get in to.
Whatever challenge you are in at the moment I encourage you to heed the words of the instructor. If you’ve made a commitment the path forward is up to you and your best play. Get into it. If you have any energy at all don’t waste it on the negative; instead invest it in the positive and helpful. And whatever you do, take the next step clearly, confidently, and correctly. I don’t have your belay, but I do have your back! Have a great week!