Does change feel hard? It can be easy. Find your TrimTab!
“Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man can do. Think of the Queen Mary-the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there’s a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trim tab. It’s a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at all. So I said that the little individual can be a trim tab. Society thinks it’s going right by you, that it’s left you altogether. But if you’re doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to go. So I said call me Trim Tab.” – Buckminster Fuller
Buckminster Fuller talked about how an individual, the smallest piece of humanity, can be like a trim tab. One person can have an immense impact on the whole of society. Bucky and his students then applied this metaphor to all types of endeavors. No matter how big the task, look for the trim tab and let both leverage and inertia be your friends.
The same is true within your own life. Quite often changing the course of your whole life has more to do with making small precise adjustments than with massive upheaval. When you find just the right area of your life to tweak you tap into enormous leverage and the whole ship swings around. If you try to steer a ship by placing a rudder in the water in front of it nothing happens. You could invest immense amounts of energy in trying to steer a ship from the front and little or nothing will happen. Adjust a tiny flap on a rudder on the back of the ship and watch as the rudder moves and then the whole ship with it. You tap into immense power with just the smallest effort. Youmay have tried to make a change in your life that felt like this. Perhaps you tried to change your diet, exercise more or change what time you wake up and no matter how hard you tried it felt like it was costing you more energy than it was worth. It likely felt like all of the inertia you had built up was pulling your life in a direction opposite the way you were trying to shift it. This is just like trying to steer a ship from the front. You don’t need to work harder, but you may need to work smarter. You need to find your Trim Tab and use inertia to your advantage.
Some people change their diet and their whole life shifts. Their body changes. Their mood shifts. Their outlook broadens. They fall in love. They start a new job. Life has a new meaning. For other people everything changes when they quit an old job. They find the time for a hobby or to work out. They start cooking more. They reconnect with loved ones. They develop a spiritual practice. Life has a new meaning. For some their trim tab is their faith. When I developed a morning ritual of self care and connection to a higher power everything revolved around this. For some committing to getting enough sleep every night starts a personal revolution. Suddenly they have new energy. Often everything shifts when we end a limiting relationship or start a new one. Any aspect of your life can be a fulcrum, a pivot or a trim tab. One little change can play a central role in catalyzing a cascade of events that changes your life forever. Often times with surprisingly little effort.
Clients come to me looking to find their vocation, to hear their calling and live a life that is full of meaning. This will necessarily include finding work that you love. However, it is very likely that the shift will not start there. If you wait until you know the perfect work to make any change in your life than it is quite likely that nothing will ever change. You may be attempting to change the ships course by pushing on its side or sticking your foot in the water out front. Attempting to shift everything at once will seem undoable because it is.
I ask clients to be gentle with themselves and simply look a bit deeper at the patterns at work. All things are connected. All of your current lifestyle choices support one another. Completely changing one aspect of your life will, without fail, cause a chain reaction in the rest of your life. The key is to look for the lifestyle adjustments that require the least amount of effort, but will have the biggest impact on everything else. Let one small change be the first of many incremental steps along your path of growth and transformation.
Maybe you can’t change your job, your health or your relationships today. It is good to be honest about this. None the less, there is something that you can commit to changing right now. Take a look at your patterns and make a promise to yourself that you will improve one aspect of your life. Let it be as big or small as you can handle right now. Choose what feels sustainable and let momentum build from there. Let me know what you come up with.
Consider the following:
Eat a great breakfast
Cut out all alcohol for a month
Learn breathing exercises.
Learn to meditate
Wakeup and immediately go outside for a walk
Prioritize sleep above all else
No TV for a month
End a damaging relationship
Join a club or group
Take a class
Start your day with an incantation
Nurture a relationship that is struggling
Remove caffeine from your diet
Move to a 4 day work week
Volunteer once a week
Learn to cook something new