Jumping Ship: What To Watch For When You Need A Change Of Course
There was a small interval of time in which the Titanic’s crew knew it was going to hit that iceberg, but it was too late. The ship was far too large and not nearly maneuverable enough to make such a hard turn before striking the mighty mass of snow and slowly sinking to the bottom of the ocean. How sad it must have been to see what lay ahead and have absolutely no control over the ensuing event — they could only brace for impact.
That story is rather symbolic. So many of us are on a course in life and at some point decide that we simply want to get off the ride. We want to make a hard left turn and avoid the inevitable iceberg ahead, whatever that proverbial iceberg may be. But rather than move aside, we stay the course, bracing for impact when in reality we have far more control than an 883 foot ship.
Why is this so? Why do we find ourselves on unpleasant paths in life but stay on them when we clearly have a desire to get off? The reasons always vary. At times we’re far too invested in the work to abandon ship, other times factors such as money or benefits keep us on the straight and narrow. Sometimes we feel the pressure from family and friends to keep pushing on, insecurity and self-doubt bubbling to the surface. To say that jumping ship is easy would be a laughable statement.
But there are steps we can take to decide when it is time to jump ship. Rarely do we have to hit the iceberg full speed ahead. Let’s expand upon these steps below.
Asking Yourself The Right Questions
The key to jumping ship at the right time is to spot the iceberg from miles away, rather than look up just before we approach it. Often times we find ourselves so caught up in the hustle of life that we fail to stop and ‘check’ ourselves until it’s too late. We fail to ask ourselves the ever important questions we deserve to be asking ourselves consistently, such as:
Am I happy?
Do I feel fulfilled doing this?
Is there a future in this for me?
Can I see myself staying this course?
Are there any potential icebergs ahead?
Taking time to reflect upon our current mental environment is far more important than we care to admit. By asking ourselves these questions and more, we are taking moments to assess what we need and where we stand. Checking in once every week or month to assess our life is a crucial means by which we can avoid icebergs.
Seeing The Signs
Along with asking ourselves questions comes the need to look for signs. Just as questioning our current status is important, so too is identifying signs that one might experience as they approach the iceberg.
These signs may include anxiety, depression, lack of sleep, loss of appetite, unhappiness in relationships, discontent with everyday life, boredom, anger, and countless other emotions that we often mistake for passing feelings. Be sure to reflect upon the emotions that feel abnormal, and ensure they don’t come from the path you find yourself on. An individual that grows nervous and sickly each morning as they head to work is likely displaying signs of an impending iceberg, but may ignore the rumble in the back of their mind until it is too late. The boyfriend in a relationship may feel stressed around his partner but assume such feelings are normal, everyday struggles of a relationship. Not only is it important to notice the signs, but also to know when the signs are abnormal.
When To Abandon Ship
There are two distinct methods by which we can abandon ship. The first being the far more comfortable approach of noticing the iceberg from a distance and taking the steps to prepare a lifeboat, grab a life vest, and depart the ship in a relatively calm fashion. While most of us would like to follow this route, all too often we instead find ourselves defaulting to the alternative option of jumping overboard just as a collision is about to occur. It’s during this action that we’ve failed to notice the signs within ourselves, nor have we taken time to question our process. Instead we’re making a last-ditch effort to flee before it’s too late.
The decision to jump ship at any stage in life is far from unusual. Most of us will head down a path and at some point find that the path is not the one we thought it would be. These paths come in the form of relationships, jobs, habits, hobbies, and everyday actions. The most important thing we can do for ourselves is ensure the path we are on is the same one we originally thought it was. To do this we can ask ourselves questions and look for the signs that illustrate when we’re on the wrong path.
If we come to find that we are in fact on the wrong path, we need to plan a calm escape. At times this exit may feel rushed or unnerving as we jump overboard at the very last minute. And other times it will be a smooth transition with a lifeboat and flotation device in hand. Chances are we’ll experience the latter and learn from such an experience to mature our escapes into the former.
No matter which path you choose, be sure it is yours and yours alone. The moment it is not your own, take time to find a new path, and continue on your own adventure.