So let me share with you the 4 Reasons Life is Like a Maze – Plus 3 Simple Ways to Hack It.
#1 – Starting is Easy
Starting a maze is really quite simple – just walk into it. Done. Getting out? Now that takes a bit of work.
Life is similar – we enter into new things quite easily. Relationships, projects, marriages, having kids, buying a house, etc. We start these new “adventures” as we like to call them often with very little thought, planning or wisdom.
It’s only once we’ve started that we realize the second similarity mazes have with life…
#2 – Finishing is Difficult
Woody Allen is one of the most successful (if not a little nutty) filmmakers in recent times. He once said this:
80% of success is showing up.
Most people quit when things get difficult. They often quit right before they break through to the next level. Think of it this way: it’s easier to back track in a maze and walk back out of the entrance than it is to push forward and find the prize or the finishing point. And that’s the choice that so many make – they stop showing up.
“A soul that is close to despair doesn’t know that it’s already standing on the brink, beyond which there lies a new path” -St. Barsanuphius
Don’t quit. Don’t settle.
#3 – There Is No Straight Line
You know the old saying “The shortest distance between two points is a straight line?” You can pretty much throw that out with both mazes and life. They don’t exist. If there was a straight line that got everyone to where they want to be, a lot more people would find success.
Instead, you’re going to make wrong turns. You’re going to hit dead ends. You’re going to backtrack. The sooner you realize and accept this, the sooner you’ll be able to mentally prepare for the game. You’ll start to learn from your mistakes instead of wallow in them. You’ll also look for ways of minimizing the mistakes instead of just wandering around “hoping” you find the goal.
#4 – The More Frustrated You Become, The Less Progress You Make
Have you ever watched a child working on a complicated puzzle or maze? What happens when they hit a few dead ends? They get frustrated. What happens when they get frustrated? They make more mistakes. Some even head down the same path that got them into the dead end in the first place.
This is an area that I sometimes struggle with. When things don’t go according to my plan, I sometimes become frustrated and disappointed. These emotions cloud my judgement and block my progress. Instead of getting frustrated, I need to take time to pause and reflect about what happened and how I’m going to adjust my plans accordingly. It’s a conscious decision I have to make and it’s part of the reason I have people to hold me accountable.
Hacking The Maze
As with all games, there are ways to “hack” the maze of life or make it easier on yourself. These are methods that are employed by people who are successful in life – and not just in the area of finances.
Hack #1 – Begin With The End In Mind
I’ve written a lot about this principle on DON’T SETTLE. We’ve walked through How to Create a Vision For Your Life which is simply beginning with the end in mind.
You see, a maze is much easier to complete when you work back from the end goal. We learned this principle as kids. Instead of starting at the beginning and trying to figure out how to get to the goal, we learned to do the maze in reverse. Unfortunately, we don’t often apply this principle to life. Instead, we strike off into our lives assuming we’ll “figure it out as we go along.”
This is short-sighted and creates unnecessary problems because we have no definite aim or direction for our lives. Those who begin with the end in mind are far more likely to reach a goal or a destination than those who don’t.
Hack #2 – Look Up Regularly
In other words, check your progress. In a “real” maze, you have no idea where the exit is since you’re likely to be walled in. You won’t be able to see beyond the section of the maze you’re currently standing in.
In life, the walls are generally low enough to peer over. Unfortunately, most people go through life looking down at where they currently are and forget to look up to see if they’re making progress. In the maze of life, you get to keep the goal in sight and even look around the maze to try to find the quickest route.
You can measure your progress against your goals and determine if you’re moving in the right direction. Sure, there will times where you’ll make some mistakes and take the wrong paths, but you’ll also drastically reduce your wrong turns and course corrections.
Hack #3 – Ask For Help From Others In The Maze
“Nobody knows what I’m going through.” Yeah, right.
The interesting thing about the maze of life is that others are in the maze with you. Some are where you want to be. Others want to be where you are. And still others are right beside you. Yet people often don’t ask for help. We don’t seek to partner with people, help other people, and find guidance from those further along the path that we’re on.
This is a mistake. There is someone further along the journey who is more than willing to tell you which turns to take and which to avoid. All you have to do is ask.
Failing to ask for help is like being lost on a road trip and refusing to pull over to ask for directions. As a guy, I don’t like to admit when I’m lost. But if I want to get where I’m going, I will need the help of others.
If you need some ideas of where to start, check out the post on 5 Groups of People Who Can Help You Succeed.
Are You Lost in the Maze of Life?
How’s your progress through the maze going? Are you moving along quickly? Are you hitting a lot of dead ends? Share your experiences, ideas, and tips in the comment section below so we can all learn together.
Image courtesy of kelp1966