In a life where we’re judged on our ability to hustle and build a fast-paced career, forward is the way to go. And although sprinting from one goal to another – albeit considering our jobs, emotional goals or our family lives – can take us to great new heights, tunnel vision can bring us to new lows just as easily. Taking a step back is one of the best ways to put your worries back into perspective!
So, what’s tunnel vision?
Tunnel vision thanks her name to her literal meaning. Just imagine driving through a tunnel. Since there’s little to see to your left and right, you keep looking forward. You feel focused on reaching the light at the end, because that’s your travel destination. Taking the tunnel is smart, because it’s a lot faster and more practical than taking the pass over the mountains. Taking the tunnel gets you where you need to be with the least distractions on your path.
Sounds smart, doesn’t it? Unfortunately the expression ‘tunnel vision’ also has a figurative meaning, which is narrow-mindedness.
“Wait up, I’m not narrow-minded. I’m making a smart move here. I can’t help it that the tunnel-walls don’t have windows, I just need to get my behind to my destination, A.S.A.P!”
This is true in many cases. We haven’t been building tunnels without reason; they’re practical. Taking a tunnel helps you get things done. But we have to take into account that, the longer the tunnel gets, the more it takes it’s toll on our mood and concentration. Everyone will agree that driving miles and miles underground with little daylight and the stink of gasoline all around you*, isn’t beneficial to your state of mind. At some point you can get angry, unreasonable, stressed or even scared or depressed.
* Everyone who has driven through the Gotthard tunnel in Switzerland will know what I mean!
Luckily the tunnels we create for ourselves to get things done have exits. You just have to put your turn signal on the minute you feel the dark is getting to you.
Taking a step back
So at some point you have to ask yourself whether the amount of effort and concentration you have been putting in your task, allows you to keep a clear head for the other things that come on your path. If the answer is negative, it’s time to take a step back and pull yourself out of your pattern. Only then you can curate what kind of work you have established, and how you can continue reaching your goal.
Taking a step back in a short period of time
- Go for a walk. I put this tip on top of the list because I feel this always helps me best when I’m stuck at a problem. I think a walk through nature is most beneficial; I love going back-to-basic and being completely alone to allow myself to rearrange my priorities.
- Get out of the office / out of the house. Go grocery shopping, take a walk through the park or go to the zoo. While you’re at it, try getting into some social occasions. Meeting new people puts a new perspective on your own situation, whether it is work or family-related.
- Broaden your mind. Force your brain into a different pattern by challenging it. Do some crossword puzzles (especially if you usually never do those), start sketching or drawing, or visit a museum. Pick something that takes you out of your comfort zone to allow yourself some new perspectives.
Taking a step back for long-term results
- Undertake something new. Start a new hobby which will challenge you mentally and/or physically. Learn to play a musical instrument, take a course of horseback riding or offer yourself as a volunteer in a home for the elderly or to help out the homeless. You won’t only feel accomplished and rewarded; doing something new on a grander scale also offers you a new perspective on your regular endeavors.
- Try a new point of view. Look for a self-help book that addresses the issues you’re dealing with, or which tickles our interests. Numerous people have written about not only their inspirations, but also their ordeals. By opening your mind to other people’s perspectives you might learn to take a completely new and more satisfying approach*.
* Bobbi Emel from The Bounce Blog writes how she and her late partner managed to take a different approach on cancer, which gave their views a drastically more positive switch.
When do you feel you suffer from tunnel vision the most?