Connect the dots looking backward—6 things we realize about change.

October 7, 2022

Connect the dots looking backward—6 things we realize about change.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.”—Steve Jobs

Often, when we look back on our lives, that is the only time things seem to fall into alignment. But during the journey to get to where we are right now, it didn’t feel that way. So, if you feel apprehensive about where you are going moving forward, keep that in mind. The greatest leaders have told us the same thing: the dots only connect looking backward.

No matter what changes the present or future might hold for us, remember to hold on to your “why.” That purpose and mission, along with the values and beliefs you hold dear and the right habits, will lead you in the right direction—even if the paths change, or even disappear, from time to time.

As you and your business grow, change is inevitable. Here are some ways you can deal with change better.

  1. Everything starts with mindset

Having the right mindset is key to achieving our purpose and mission. The way we think dictates how we act, and when our mind is in the right direction, no matter what changes come, we can act properly based on our situation.

Remember why you started out in the first place. Who are you doing this for? Why do you want to achieve this? When your mindset aligns with what you want to achieve, who you want to become, and what things are important to you, your actions will be within the ballpark of what’s needed to keep going.

  1. We all need to plan ahead but remain flexible

When we set goals, we need an action plan. Otherwise, those aren’t goals, but just dreams. However, we need to keep in mind that not everything will go the way we want. Things happen that disrupt even the best-laid plans. There are things within and outside of our control that we have to consider.

This discourages some people from planning ahead—why make plans when we can just act as we go and as we see fit? But plans help you have structure. In a way, it is about you budgeting your limited resources (in this case, your time and energy) and distributing them across the things that demand those resources (your tasks, appointments, etc.).

Since time and energy are limited, there is a need to prioritize which tasks and responsibilities demand the most urgent need for those resources. Planning allows you to allocate yourself properly, set boundaries, and protect yourself from burning out.

The biggest mistake most of us make in planning is not leaving room in our schedules for possible disruptions. When you plan ahead, and you want to be flexible no matter what happens, having those buffers in your schedule allows you more room to pivot and re-center yourself as needed.

  1. Reflection is important

This is a part we skip. Most of us are so tired throughout the day that we feel like we have no time or energy left to reflect. But the foregoing reflection sets us up for failure.

When we reflect, we are able to organize our thoughts, revisit what we learned, realize things that we did wrong or need improvement, and appreciate our progress. It helps us dig deeper into knowing ourselves and gives us insights into whether we are going in the right direction. Most importantly, the lessons we learn are only enhanced and solidified as part of our being when we give ourselves time to reflect.

That is how we continue to grow, and helps us refill our cups so we can keep moving forward without going on empty.

  1. Structures through routine keep us grounded

Our brains are working tirelessly 24/7. Every decision we make for every action we have to take is processed there. It is even in charge of regulating body processes that we don’t have to consciously think about.

When we have to decide on too many things, our brains get tired fast. Everyday movements like walking are stored in our “muscle memory”—these routine motions are “automatic” and ease some of the load off our brains.

In the same way, building habits and routines helps our minds be more relaxed. It has more bandwidth to work on the higher leverage decision-making tasks when we have routines and habits in place.

And in turbulent times, these habits act as our anchors, a “sense of normalcy” in the middle of all the changes you have to navigate. Just make sure that you build habits and routines that are aligned with your goals and will take you closer to your purpose.

  1. Remember to be grateful and have fun

We experience a lot of anxiety during change. Gratitude and self-care are some ways we can make sure we are functional and stable in a sustainable way. Think of your car's maintenance–hopefully, you do it regularly instead of waiting for your car to break down.

Humans need the same amount of care and maintenance as pets. Don’t wait for burnout before taking care of yourself. Do it regularly so you can prevent burnout from happening to you. Rest and restoration are productive actions. When you are facing high-anxiety situations, the more “well-maintained” you are, holistically, the better you can weather the journey and come out of it whole.

  1. Find trustworthy people

Surround yourself with people you can trust. Ask them for help when you need it. Let them be your accountability partner when weathering change. We all need someone who will hold the rope for us. Find your people, and be that person to others.

Change is inevitable. As leaders, we need to be centered in order to be agile. Learn to trust in yourself and have the confidence to face change and challenges that life may throw at you. 

Thanks for reading A Brilliant Tribe.