Persevere. Keep going. Don’t give up.
This is what I’d read in every personal development book I could get my hands on.
So, I did exactly that. I persevered. I kept going. I didn’t give up.
And I endured repeated, crushing, punishing, and embarrassing failures. Until, finally, I worked myself to exhaustion.
I had to admit that what I was doing wasn’t working anymore. Something had to change.
This is Life Transitions. Welcome to day six.
Life Transitions Progression
If you’d like to get caught up with this series, here are the quick links to access past stories:
Life Transitions, Day 1 (Introduction)
Life Transitions, Day 2: Resistance
Life Transitions, Day 3: Jobs & Careers
Life Transitions, Day 4: Location
Life Transitions, Day 5: Relationships
When the Sandcastle Crumbles
We all have some preconceived notions about how life is supposed to look and how success is supposed to work.
For example, many people live on a timeline (which is usually based on someone else’s idea of success). Graduate at 21. Get married at 25. Buy a house at 28. Have kids at 30. Work at a job for 40 to 50 years. Retire at 65.
Whatever that story is, though some end up living it, many will find their perfectly planned lives unfolding differently than they thought it would.
So much for the white picket fence, a golden retriever named Charlie, and 1.93 kids (per Statista).
Further, hardship and challenges are practically a given. Should you choose a path of growth, you may even come up against some of your greatest fears.
But to say that this is all “negative” is to paint every experience with the same brush. Life is a gift, and we live in a world of contrast. If there’s pain, there’s also pleasure. If there’s tall, there’s also short. And so on.
What we fail to understand is that once we set an intention to achieve something, the universe always takes us on the fastest, most direct path to getting it. The catch? We’ll encounter some bumpy roads on that path.
And should we resist those bumpy roads, we’ll find ourselves losing faith and starting all over. Set a new intention. Get back on the roller-coaster ride. Hit the “abort” button as fast as hard as we can the moment things don’t look the way we think they should.
That’s the cycle you don’t want to get stuck in.
Sandcastles will crumble, because they are not made of sturdy material, nor do they have a solid foundation.
But when a sandcastle crumbles, it often creates space for fresh opportunities and blessings in our lives.
“It Doesn’t Look How I Thought it Would”
If you find yourself saying this sentence, there’s a good chance a sandcastle has recently crumbled in your life, making way for something better.
A friend of mine, who’s in skincare, recently had to give up her spa space because of the pandemic.
She admitted that trying to make rent was constantly on her mind, and she was always worried that she wouldn’t be able to pay her business expenses.
So, worrying about what she didn’t want brought about what she didn’t want faster.
What’s interesting is that once she surrendered and let it go, she realized it didn’t mean the end of her business at all. Suddenly, new ideas started coming to her. And she realized that she could now go about business in a less stressful way, with fewer expenses to worry about.
What fascinates me even more is how this mirrors my experience with selling my house in 2012. It was fast becoming a burden rather than a blessing, and because I fell so far behind with mortgage payments, I was constantly worried about trying to make enough money to save the house. There was no room in my mind for anything else.
But as soon as I sold my house, I had a sense of freedom and mental clarity I’d never had before. And that got me to the point of beginning work on my first book.
Sometimes, sandcastles must fall to make way for better things in our lives.
“What Happens Next?”
This is a common question to ask after the sandcastle has crumbled.
What’s important to know is we don’t need to ask this question at all.
When you stop and think about it, you realize it was your own thinking that got you to where you are in the first place. So, seeking for what’s next from the same brain that got you into this mess is unlikely to yield progressive results.
It’s time to listen to your heart. Because, as I’ve said before, your heart has all the answers.
And while this will certainly sound like trite and maybe even confusing advice, it goes deeper than you might think.
To uncover your heart’s answers, you will likely need to engage in meditation and move into a space of letting go, surrender, and allowing (instead of your default mode – thinking, planning, goal-setting, “figuring it out”, etc.).
You don’t need to figure out anything. And that’s the magic of crumbling sandcastles. If you sit with it, allow it, and let it be, you will see something new come into your space. And you can respond to that, instead of worrying about what’s next.
This isn’t to suggest there won’t ever be anymore crumbling. But think of it this way – there are things that serve us for a season. And, if they’re no longer serving us, they will crumble.
How to Handle Crumbling Sandcastles
You don’t need to do much of anything!
If you wish, you can spend some time in contemplation, journaling, and meditation.
Humans are meaning-making machines. That doesn’t mean we’ve got to make meanings out of our failures, because there’s nothing more common (and generally harmful) than that!
A sandcastle was never designed to stand the test of time. It was never made of sturdy materials, and it wasn’t built on a solid foundation besides.
We can thank the sandcastle for what it did in our lives. Because whether we see it or not, it was in our lives for a season, and it served us for that time.
Everything is temporary. But some things have a much shorter shelf life than others. These are the sandcastles in our lives.
They may look impressive. They may make you feel good. And they always serve a purpose.
But they generally crumble to make way for something new. And the best thing we can do is give thanks for the role the sandcastles played in our lives.
What sandcastles have you witnessed crumble in your own life? How did you handle it?
I look forward to sharing more on life transitions, and if you have any questions, I look forward to answering them too.
Let me know in the comments below.
Shh… Don’t tell anyone. Only the cool kids are talking about it.
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