The danger of ignoring expiration dates

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There are seasons in each of our lives when life settles into a manageable routine. This doesn’t mean that there are no problems (there are always problems to be dealt with!) or that we’ve reached our ideal life or that nothing changes in these seasons. They are just spaces in which things are mostly working and we’ve settled into a comfortable routine that we’ve gotten used to.

These seasons are valuable respites in our lives, but they come with expiration dates. Change is an inevitable part of life, and there comes a time when we need to move from comfortable coasting back into the challenges of navigating change to create the lives we desire.

Sometimes those changes mean letting something end (at least in the form in which we have known it). It may be an old dream that we’ve clung to for ages, but the time has come to let it go and pour our energy into a new dream that is truer to who we are now. Or maybe a relationship that was once nurturing has descended in toxicity, and it’s time to create some distance for our own well-being. Or perhaps a job that once fit us well has begun to pinch, and the time has come to move to something that challenges and excites us once again.

Other times those changes may mean adding something new to our lives. Perhaps it’s time to go back to school to expand our skills. Or maybe we need to create a new habit, like physical exercise or a meditation practice, to better care for ourselves and avoid future health issues. Or perhaps it’s time to stretch toward that promotion we’ve been eyeing. Or maybe we feel pulled to add a creative outlet to give us a way to express our creativity.

There are hundreds of shapes these changes might take, but there comes a time when the need to make them settles deep in our bones and calls to us to step out of our comfortable routines and head in a new direction.

I don’t know about you, but when I find that need to make a big change that will pull me out of my comfort zone comes tugging at my soul, I have a strong tendency to resist with everything I’ve got.

After all, change is scary and uncertain, and I’d much rather stay here in this comfortable rut I’ve created where I know what to expect and life is reasonably predictable (even when it’s predictably miserable).

I’ve even been known to make big changes to head in the opposite direction to avoid the risk of what’s calling to me by choosing smaller, less risky changes (or at least seemingly so) instead. For example, instead of following a knowing deep in my gut that it was time to pursue self-employment as a primary goal, I’ve switched departments within companies to take on entirely new jobs or even switched companies altogether.

And you know what I’ve discovered? Many of my biggest experiences of brokenness stem directly from my refusal to pay attention to the expiration date that I knew I was there but refused to act on.

Again and again, I wound up forced out of my comfortable life when it crashed down around my ears because I did not heed that quiet inner voice that told me it was time to make some changes, and the resulting disasters have cost me much more than it would have if I had dealt with the issues as soon as that inner nudge appeared.

I still find it challenging to listen to that inner voice telling me of an upcoming expiration date to some currently comfortable rut I am in, but I’m learning to pay much closer attention to those nudges when they do appear.

I’ve learned that while they don’t always seem to rational or logical or explainable, there is some part of me that knows what’s needed even better than my conscious mind does, and it is in my best interest to listen when it speaks up.

That has meant learning to better listen to that intuitive voice inside me. It’s meant learning to take risks to follow the inner guidance that appears, which means learning to trust that bone-deep knowing inside me, even when it doesn’t seem entirely rational.

It’s still a something I struggle with, but a quick review of the history of disasters I’ve created for myself by refusing to pay attention in the past is usually enough to help me find the courage to listen and respond better in the moment.

Can you think of times when you avoided making a change you knew deep down needed to happen? What was the result of that avoidance for you?

Are there any places in your life that you are currently feeling that inner nudge that says your comfort zone is about to expire and it’s time for change? How are you responding to that intuitive knowledge? How might you begin working toward honoring that expiration date to create positive change (and avoid disaster)?


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3 thoughts on “The danger of ignoring expiration dates

  • July 25, 2018 at 9:55 am
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    Can you think of times when you avoided making a change you knew deep down needed to happen? What was the result of that avoidance for you?
    Thanks for this probing question and the answer is “yes”. I hear the voice but ignore it and have struggles with letting go. For me, most recently I believe it has created health issues. The expiration date for this particular situation has long since passed and I’m still hanging on. The issue behind not letting go is fear. I know it but it doesn’t make me any more willing to change it but perhaps I am getting closer.

    • July 25, 2018 at 12:01 pm
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      Fear is what holds me back too. Change is so scary, especially when it starts with letting something go that I’ve gotten comfortable with since what might take its place is so unknown. Best of luck as you face your own struggles with this expiration date. I’ve got my own that I’m still working on, too. Thanks for sharing and letting me know I’m not alone in this!

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