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What A Foggy Beach Run Taught Me About Managing Uncertainty

I learned a lesson years ago that I’ll never forget, and it’s so relevant to the uncertainty we’re all facing today.

When I lived in LA, I loved running at the beach. I lived just outside Santa Monica, and it could be completely sunny there while completely cloudy at the beach, so I always checked the weather before I drove down to run—except for this one time.

I headed to the beach after work, and when I got there, it was socked in and pretty chilly. But I had a lot to process and felt like I needed to run, so I parked my car, walked through the sand down to the water, and started running.

Why We Only Need to See Five Feet Ahead

I’d never even driven through fog this thick. It was so dense that I could only see about five feet ahead of me, and other runners would appear so suddenly we’d both laugh from being startled and a little amused.

I was going through a divorce at the time, recreating my life and figuring out what I wanted that to look like for the first time in 10 years, and it hit me—I only needed to see five feet ahead in my life as well.

I’d been wanting to see the entire path, to know how my life was going to play out after such a drastic change, but that’s not what I needed. I only needed to see far enough to take the right first step, and that’s all we need during this pandemic as well.

What We Focus on We Feel

I start getting anxiety whenever I let my mind wander too far into the future, wondering what our world will look like when this is over and thinking about the businesses, events, and activities that may never come back from it.

I feel the tragedy whenever I think about the time we’ve lost with our families and friends during the past few months, and the family members and friends that so many have lost.

But what we focus on we feel, and focusing on the things that are causing anxiety, stress, and overwhelm isn’t productive. It can’t change anything, and the most likely outcome is to keep us all mentally stuck, preventing us from seeing and taking the next right step.

It holds us back from innovating and creating something new during this strange season of our lives.

A Lesson We Can All Learn From

So, I wanted to share the lesson that I was reminded of today, from my foggy run on the beach: we only need to see five feet ahead of us, especially right now.

This pandemic feels a bit like being socked in. The fog of uncertainty is so thick in every area of our lives, and it’s normal to want to see through it to the other side.

But here’s something else I learned during that run: we’re highly adaptable human beings, and when we begin to adjust our mentality and accept the five feet of visibility we do have, we stop living in the future and start living in the present, which is the only thing we can control anyway.

The Magic of Focusing on the Present Moment

This shift in our focus can help us become fully present more often. It can give us the control that we’re striving for when we’re living in the uncertain, uncontrollable future, instead of the present moment.

During that run, the ability to see—the ocean, the waves, other people on the beach—was mostly taken away, along with all the distractions that come along with that complete visibility. As a result, I was able to be more present than I’d ever been before, and it was magical.

I had an extremely intimate conversation with God during that run. I felt Him and heard His voice in a very tangible way, and I’ll never forget the things He revealed to me that day.

And then, something even more unexpected happened. When I got to the rocky break wall that marked the end of my run and turned around, I saw that the fog was starting to lift.

I could see the end of that thick marine layer, with the beautiful blue sky just beyond it—and I realized that I didn’t want to run through it to the other side. I knew that as soon as I did, the magic of this experience would dissipate, along with the ease of being present as all the other distractions began to creep in again.

The Rare Gift of Reflection

So, I encourage you to use the time you have left, before the world completely opens up again, to practice being fully present. Many of us may never have this much time to reflect again, and time is always a gift. Don’t waste it.

This practice can also help reduce our anxiety and overwhelm in the midst of so much uncertainty, and show us how to focus on what we can control.

And these are new habits that we can incorporate into our new “normal.”

The lessons you’re learning and the choices you’re making right now will shape the second half of this year and also shape who you will become.

What have you learned during this quarantine—about yourself, about how you work best, and about what you need to be the best version of yourself? How can you use these lessons to define what you want the rest of this year to look like?

It’s Time to Decide What Happens Next

It’s too easy for us introverts to go right back into the busyness, stress, and overwhelm of pre-pandemic life.

What if you did something different and started intentionally creating your new “normal,” getting clear on how you want to experience the second half of 2020?

Join my upcoming virtual workshop to learn how to do this with my proven process, set goals that are aligned with your values, and develop an achievable action plan that you can implement right away.


 

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2 Comments

  1. John Arnold says

    I love this! ♥

  2. Regina says

    This is really amazing. Thank you

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