WHICH CARDS ARE YOU SHUFFLING?

September 2021

Over the past 18 months, a number of my friends have come to realize that jobs, social circles, activities, residences and other life-defining variables hold far more wiggle room than they had once thought.

They’re now shuffling their cards to get more of what they’ve been missing and to get rid of some of the baggage that was holding them back.

Their revelations? A career that sucks the life out of you might not be worth the sacrifice anymore. The city you’ve been living in might have changed… or you have. The activities you do for fun seem less fun these days.

It’s possible to get a huge refresh by changing just one thing. It can be a big thing – like shifting where you live or what you do – or a smaller adjustment like switching up whom you spend your time with or learning something new.

For me, it was the opposite. The last eighteen months have been a not-so-gentle wake-up call that the nomadic life I’ve been living might have met my aspirations, but the reality of being constantly on the move has pushed me beyond my comfort zone to a place of instability. I’ve been too far beyond the familiar, too far away from routine, and most importantly, too far from many of the people I connect with most.

My “wake up moment” opened my eyes to the fact that I need to dial back to more of the familiar routines that ground me. To be crass, it’s reassuring to know where the bathroom is in the middle of the night.

Dialing back and “saying no” is giving me a greater sense of control. My friends playing new hands say they are taking control too: of where they live, what they know how to do and what they see as their new life balance.

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How do you shuffle your own deck?

Sometimes it’s clear. You’ve always wanted to (fill in the blank) and now you can. Or luck came your way with an opportunity, and for the first time you took the risk and jumped because there was less to lose.

But that’s not always the way it works. In fact, it’s really hard to make a move if you’ve been following the same strategy for so long.

Most of us who are tired of what we’ve been doing don’t have clarity about what we want to do next.

That’s especially true for high performers who get so used to being good at that thing they’ve always done that they fear any next step will take them backwards — out of that leadership role, away from the limelight and maybe even back into the minor leagues. The fear of taking steps backwards or being “not good” at something is daunting when we define ourselves by what we do.

It’s also true for those of us who are comforted by familiarity — in a city, a routine or a circle of friends. Being too far from that comfort zone (like I’ve been) can be disorienting or worse.

For those who are living paycheck-to-paycheck, shifting to something big might be impossible. But shifting to something better might be a start. Better hours. Better location. With shortages in staff, there may even be an opportunity to negotiate a raise.

* * *

Are you bored, bummed or burned out?

No matter how badly you want to find your next chapter, letting go of a situation where everything is “comfortable” is hard.

So how about starting with one small move.

Instead of defining yourself by what you “do”, add some additional measures, like what you are naturally good at. Instead of defining yourself by where you live, think about what you value as well as what you are missing in your current environment. Rather than sticking to your usual genre, pay attention to articles, entertainment or other people whose stories interest you but are not your automatic choice.

Then play a couple of hands to get a bit deeper into the areas that might add breadth and depth to your game.

My 85-year-old mom is taking weekly drawing and painting classes.
My friend Crystal rented an apartment in a new city to see if she liked it.
Parlay House member Jenna left her big city life to get her yoga certification.
By trying these new things, they’re building new pathways. Neuropathways, behavioral pathways and emotional pathways.

It turns out that my mom’s a damned good artist and Jenna is an amazing yoga teacher. Crystal learned that life in the new city wasn’t for her and she moved back home, which is as important a realization as finding her “yes.”

For each of them, there are additional experiences and skills that are more familiar as they reshuffle their decks. And the next move they make will be slightly easier for having tried the last variation.

Whether you feel like you’ve hit a dead end, or are staring at the intersection of your old path and have too many new directions to choose from, shuffle your deck and play a few small cards to see what you learn.

It’ll certainly help make you a bit more capable in unexpected areas and could even lead to some more major plays that take you into a whole new game.

* * *

Feeling stuck or lost? It’s easier to make a move when you have some support!

Share it Small: Want to dip your toe into something new? Ask a friend to do it with you? It’ll give you something to talk about, laugh about, or to support each other when it leads to bigger jumps and opportunities.

Share it Big: If you’re thinking of a bigger move, tell people about it. Putting your experiments out there will help other people in your life know what you’re looking for! In fact, sharing your aspirations and interests can often unlock job leads, invitations or even new groups of friends. You may not go in as the expert, but you won’t be lonely as you build your comfort in a new direction.

Share it with Me: We all learn from each other. If you have had a revelation, a breakthrough, an insight, or a triumph, we can learn from you so please tell me about it here! I’m collecting stories of these cascades of good for ongoing community building and to track The Parlay Effect in action. I would love nothing better than to hear how you lifted, were lifted, or observed something in others that made you feel good and recognize your own power.