Pit Stop: Why Pulling Back Can Help You Go Forward

Have you ever had to regroup?

You’ve got momentum going in life but then you have to hit the brakes in order to take care of something really important?

It could be family, finances, health, or a number of other things, but ultimately it causes you to have to take a step backward temporarily in order to be able to keep moving forward. 

It can be easy to feel like you’ve lost something, or afraid others will think that you couldn’t make it, or that you don’t have what it takes; but we need to realize that this is a reality of life:

You can’t win them all, but you CAN win the ones that count.

 

Regrouping from a vision in order to take care of an essential is important. It’s necessary.

Recently, Shannon and I had to make the very difficult decision to move out of our apartment and into my folks' house. We had thought about this as an option in the past, because of both financial and health challenges that needed to be taken care of but kept getting put on the back burner because we didn’t have enough margin in our budgets, but hadn't had to make  concrete decision until that point.

Things came to a head about a month ago when we realized we had reached the point of no return: either we do the thing we were dreading and break our lease in order to take care of these things, or we try to scrape by for another month, putting off the problems yet again, in hopes that things would change.

The reality was, however, that we didn’t really have a choice. We KNEW that we had to do something if things were going to change. We knew the Shannon needed to get healthy again, and we knew that where we were living currently wasn’t allowing us to get the financial traction we needed to move forward.

One of my good friends and mentors, Mike Baker, once told me this:

“Massive action solves all problems”

So we decided to take some massive action.

We had two really big challenges to overcome:

  1. We didn’t have enough money to break our lease,
  2. We didn’t have a new place to move into.

With these two goals in mind, in the span of a week, we took the jump:

  • We made the announcement to our family and friends that we needed to break our lease but didn’t have a place to land yet and asked if they could let us know of openings,
  • We started putting up nearly all the furniture we owned for sale,
  • I took on odd jobs and any opportunity for additional payment I could get,
  • Shannon organized people to help us move as well as hustled selling all our stuff,
  • We made phone calls to handle administrative things with the move,
  • We even tried to strategize somebody taking over our lease.

Life went from 0 to 100 really fast.

 

Ironically, it’s almost as if taking the scarier path unlocked everything we needed and more.

Following our decision to move out, things just started clicking in place. We received so much love and support from friends an family: 

  • Encouragement, prayers, people reaching out on our behalf, volunteers to help move and clean, and even one friend who sent us an unexpected check that went toward almost half of our lease-break cost! They were someone who we had helped out in the past and they let us know they had our backs in return.
  • We started selling all our furniture for really good prices really quickly.
  • I got an opportunity to do some work helping a friend clean out his giant garage, and he told me that anything they were getting rid of that I wanted to take and sell I could. Selling those donated items significantly added to our resources for the move.
  • I mustered the courage to call several clients and ask if they were able to pay me an advance on work we completed and they said Yes.
  • Shannon’s dad took the whole day off from his business to help us move all our furniture so we could save money on a rental.
  • We had a few different friends offer to put a roof over our heads, even though they were in a tight situation themselves. And we also had some friends offer us space with no rent charge until we could get on our feet!
  • We even had someone randomly reach out to us through the grapevine who was going to try to take over our lease for us. That didn’t work out, but it still was very generous and we got to make a new friend in the process.
  • We had friends reach out to us and invite us over for dinner, spend quality time with us, and gave us empathy and encouragement.
  • Ultimately we talked to my parents, who told us, “We were just recently talking about you guys, that if you ever needed a place to stay you could come here!” They also offered us a space with no rent so that we could get back on our feet, which ended up being the most natural option for us. The timing was perfect.

All in all, this situation that started out stressful and sad, ended up being an experience that showed us how loved we are, that prayer works, and that when you invest into others they will invest into you.

My mom likened it to It’s A Wonderful Life where George Bailey has reached his breaking point after losing all the money needed to keep his business and home afloat; and just when it seemed all hope was lost, all the people in the town who he had helped over the years come to his aid and help him.

There’s a quote from this scene that really exemplifies how I felt that week: 

Remember no man is a failure who has friends.
— Clarence the Angel

The moral of the story is that as hard as we try to push forward, sometimes the best thing we can do is to take a step back and regroup.

You don’t have to win every battle to win the war. The true measure of your success are the quality of the relationships you have with the people in your life. And if you have your priorities straight, making hard decisions becomes simple.

We lived in a beautiful apartment in a beautiful area that was close to parks and Shannon’s school and our church. We had planned on staying there for a while, and there was a lot to love about it. But compared to getting Shannon healthy and being able to accomplish the financial goals we needed to, staying there was a lower priority, which made the decision easier. What good would staying there have been without health and peace of mind? That would have been too high a cost to pay.

The things that are important enough to regroup for are the things that form your foundation. 

Family, friends, relationships, health, financial stability, heath stability, a stable living situation... If we didn't care for these things we wouldn’t be able to build our dream without it collapsing.

 

We have to have our foundational pillars in place in order to build something that will last.

Following the move, we’ve felt vastly more peace of mind compared to before.

We’ve been able to get Shannon the medical help she needed and she’s doing 10x better now and making fast progress to full recovery. We get to spend quality time with my family in this next season. And we now have the ability to chart the course for our future with more certainty.

Sometimes it’s the unexpected things that end up creating the route that leads to where you want to go.

You just have to be willing to keep your eye on the end goal, and sacrifice your expectation of what you think the path will look like to get there. If you do that, then you can have grace with the process, not carry shame if things go unexpectedly, and you will be able to flex and bend instead of break when the winds of life blow hard.

So when the opportunity comes to keep pushing forward or to handle something that’s essential, have the discernment to know which is a higher priority: chasing your dream now, or building the foundation that will support your dream.

Think long-term. 

As important as momentum is, there are other facets of momentum, such as your condition once you cross the finish line. If you blow a cylinder in your car, don’t try to keep driving it or the damage will get worse and you’ll get stuck. 

Remember that it’s ok to take the time to pull over and do some maintenance in order to go the distance, because the people who care enough to do so are the ones who actually make it.