It's a New Year...But Are You Feeling Stuck?

January 14th, 2022

“We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars, now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt.”

You may recognize this quote from the movie “Interstellar.” Though it's been years since I've watched the film, this quote has stuck with me since. It’s a heavy thought that can apply to almost anything in life. To some who interpret this literally, this quote is about space exploration. To others, it may be about idealistic childhood dreams we had for ourselves as children and the present reality of short-sighted goals and an abyss of normalcy.
Personally, this quote is especially resonant in terms of a career. It sums up the doldrums many encounters in a position we've unconsciously settled into. We are enthusiastic about this new chapter when we start a new job. We gush to our family and friends. Like a kid on the first day of school, we’re excited about who we’ll meet, what we’ll learn, and growing up to a new level of responsibility and standing. We have an audacious vision of success at this company and endless creativity spawning a constellation of a million ideas.
But what happens after a year? After two years? This new opportunity’s lustre of promise has dulled into the routine of a job. The visions of creating something groundbreaking, once our guiding light, are now dim on our daily horizons, barely noticeable and easily ignored.
Why? What happened to the exciting promise of building something great, a personal monument?
Instead of looking up at the stars and thinking of grand concepts of our future accomplishments, we are looking below at the dirt, trying not to fail. Perhaps it’s because we’re inundated with too much work. Or stifled by the anxiety and unknown of this never-ending pandemic. Maybe it’s because pursuing a particular project is too complicated; perhaps we don’t know where to start. The main reason is simple: shifting our focus from long-term dreams and goals to the short-term checklist. Our goals are to deliver on a current project, finish that weekly report, or make it to that vacation in the Bahamas scheduled in just 43 days (but who’s counting?).
Whatever the reason, settling on a safer near-term outlook robs us of our passion and vision. Constant fixation on what needs to be done today, tomorrow, or this week, doesn't allow us to pause and reflect, learning new ways of problem-solving. Focusing our vision on the near term at the dirt in front of our feet doesn't let us to see the big picture above us.
Our fire for doing something great becomes placated just as we are when taking off our shoes upon the daily post-work collapse on the couch. What is something we can do that will make a significant impact? What’s something that we can create that will be our legacy?
If you’re like me, you might think, “I’m beyond busy; what can I possibly do that will help?”
Some say you need to create an action plan or take 30 minutes every day to visualize success. But those don’t work for me. I’m a skeptic without available time. Instead, I ask myself a series of questions.
  • Remember how you felt the night before you started your current job? What would that person think of the legacy you've built so far?
  • What would that version of you do if they were to go into work for you tomorrow?
  • What’s one thing you do regularly, which you know deep down isn't really making an impact?
  • What can you do instead that would actually make a difference?
  • What’s the proudest moment you've had in your current position? How do you replicate that?
  • You get a glimpse in the future - 10 years to be precise. You’re now C-level at your current company.. What did you do to get there?
The bottom line is not to get caught up worrying about your place in the dirt. Life’s too short not to do something great. As we enter another new year, keep your eyes on the stars.
Take a chance. Go big. Make your legacy.
Don’t let another year pass without creating something meaningful. questions.


Ryan Pirkle

Ryan Pirkle

Sr. Director Marketing & Communications Americas