The HR Juggler

Day 8: Loosen Your Stakes

Posted on: December 8, 2013

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Today’s post is written by Kandy Woodfield, better known to many of us as her Twitter handle of @Jess1ecat.

Artwork for today (and every day!) is by the brilliant Simon Heath.

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I’m ambivalent about stakes. They’re good (I’m told) for slaying vampires, or the walking dead

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They’re important to stick in the ground when you need to stand up for something you believe in and hold true to that.

But they’re also used to mark boundaries, they anchor you to opinions and perspectives, they can end up being pretty rigid things that control your freedom and creativity.

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For much of my life I was quite proud of being the type of person who knew exactly what was happening and when – yesterday, today and ten years into the future. I liked lists and things happening as they were scheduled to and I thought those stakes were serving me well.

Then a few years ago a personal crisis forced me to reappraise the negative side of that boundary setting. All of a sudden my life wasn’t going the way I’d planned at all. Stakes I’d carefully, heavily hammered into the ground to keep me anchored were upended at an alarming rate, I felt set adrift.

Coming out of that period I learnt to stop limiting myself to the boundaries my plans and set ideas gave me. I started to look around at the here and now. New options and possibilities opened up. It took a lot of personal reflection (and a fair bit of therapy but that frankly is a whole other story!) but I started to live in the present and it’s a scary but exhilarating place to be.

So what do I try to do differently now?

  •   I try to think ‘why not’ rather than ‘what now’ when unexpected opportunities/issues crop up
  •   I take risks and force myself to do things that scare me
  •   I try to be in the now, not to dwell on the past or live in the future
  •   I’ve accepted change happens, sometimes it happens because I’ve had a hand in planning it but mostly it just happens, and it’s scary but it can also be liberating
  •   I’m less dogmatic or prone to sticking my stake in the ground and not wavering, as a result I listen to others more attentively

In upending my stakes what I’ve actually raised the stakes I have in my life. This year that’s led me to meeting a whole new set of friends in my Twitter network in real life, running an international network of researchers and taking part in a judging panel for an awards ceremony.  Unconstrained by ideas about what my life ‘should’ look like, I’ve met more people, done more interesting things than my carefully crafted planning would ever have allowed me.

I confess I still like a good ‘to do’ list so planning isn’t out altogether but nowadays I pick and plant my stakes more sparingly!

So my question for you all is what stakes are tying you down? What will you do to loosen the guy ropes this coming year to see where it takes you?

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3 Responses to "Day 8: Loosen Your Stakes"

Thanks again to Alison and Simon to bring this brilliant post and of course a big Thank You to you Kandy for sharing this with us. Your story has been repeated a million times in the last few years for so many of us and yet it is unique just like each of us.
It resonated with me in so many ways, you could have written it for me about how a structured world changed for me overnight and a few years down the road, the unstructured world has brought me so many joys which I would have never experienced before.

All the best for going onwards and upwards! X

Thank you Bina the response I’ve had today has been overwhelming, so many people felt it resonated with periods in their lives. It’s all about continually learning more not just about things but about ourselves isn’t it.

[…] Woodfield came untethered for post number eight with some sound advice about not limiting your […]

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