A few weeks ago I took a mini-vacation down to my favorite area of Florida, Seagrove Beach on beautiful 30A. I was anxious to get my paddle board out on the beautiful emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico, but the beach’s warning flags told me I should re-think my plans. There was a purple flag indicating dangerous marine life, and a red flag indicating high hazards and strong currents.
So, I improvised and took my board out on Eastern Lake, a rare coastal dune lake that runs under scenic highway 30A and eventually feeds into the ocean after a heavy rain or other inflow. Because it is a coastal dune lake, Eastern Lake is rather small. And since there hadn’t been a previous heavy rainfall to create an opening to the ocean, the sandy beach served as a barrier between the lake and the ocean.
I paddled from the beach end (the south end) where the salt water mixes with the fresh, to the marshy north end where I’m sure some alligators make their home. It was only about a mile and a half from the beach barrier to the marsh end of the lake. Needless to say, for someone who is used to paddling on rivers with an unlimited amount of distance available, I felt a bit trapped.
Unlike the ocean, I didn’t have a wide open space to explore, so all I could do was just keep paddling in one big circle around the perimeter of the lake. Despite all the beauty surrounding me and the change of scenery from my regular paddle route, the feeling of going around in circles made me frustrated.
7 Possible Ways to Cope
I’ve thought about that day a lot since returning from my trip, feeling like there is some kind of lesson in it (and there probably is because there have been so many from my various paddling excursions). But what? As soon as I started writing this story, several possibilities came to mind:
- Sometimes we don’t always get what we want when we want it, so be patient.
- Make the best of your current situation.
- Just enjoy and be content with and grateful for the beauty of your current place/situation. Things will soon change for the better.
- Wait to make your move until conditions are more favorable.
- Pay attention to the warning flags.
- You’ll keep going in circles if you don’t step out of your comfort zone.
- Don’t wait for an opportunity to come open. Make your own opportunity.
Can You Relate?
I’m still not sure which of the above lessons I was supposed to learn that day. But the experience of feeling blocked in or trapped is one I’ve felt more than once in my career, whether it was when I was trapped in a toxic office environment, or when I was restless because I was not working in my purpose.
In two instances, I waited patiently for the conditions to be right to make my exit, and spent my time wisely planning my course of action for when the appropriate time arrived. In one instance, I stopped focusing on the warning flags and took a leap of faith.
I know which approach has worked best for me, but in general I can’t say for sure that either of those approaches is better than the other. And I can’t say that there’s one approach that fits everyone experiencing the same frustrations because everyone’s journey is different. What I can do is coach my clients on the approach that works best for them, their personal situation, and their unique goals and strengths. Which lesson from the list above speaks most to your current situation?