Life is like a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle
Inspiration can come from the strangest of places. Even the “White Elephant” stall at a fundraiser last weekend. A wintry scene in Victorian London caught my eye. It's years since I've done one so thought it'd be a nice seasonal tradition to rekindle. As it turns out, the tatty-cornered box contained some unexpected insights as a bonus. Forest Gump can keep his chocolates. For me, life is like a 1,000-piece puzzle.
It starts with the big picture. Isn't it helpful to have that to work towards? Keeping our ultimate goals in mind allows us to build up the different areas that comprise them.
Then begin with the edges. Just picking a random piece and expanding it without some forethought can leave us spilling over the table-edge because we didn't see it coming. However, when we've established the boundaries, we know everything else has to fit within them.
It's like when we set healthy boundaries for our time, energy, focus etc (and actually stick to them) we can then fill them wholeheartedly without threat of burnout. A friend recently shared her important distinction between being caught up in a “busy” life and enjoying “a full life”. Creating strong boundaries first allows us to live fully.
I've also noticed, in jigsaws as in life, that I can look and look for a particular piece, convinced I've sifted through every single option (of the thousand!). And just as I'm beginning to worry the piece is missing, ready to cast blame at whoever donated an incomplete puzzle just to torment me, I stop looking … and as if by magic, when I next scan the pile, there on top is that special piece, staring back at me like it'd been there the whole time.
We can't force it though. You know when puzzle pieces go together: they slot into place. There have been occasions in life where I've forced things to fit out of desire to demonstrate some idea of progress. But when we don't fully align, everything can get thrown off. Pieces can get damaged trying to force them where they're not meant to be. When it's right, it usually feels easy.
And we can't always avoid disaster. Some unexpected event can send everything we've been working on crashing to the ground. That's when we have to pick up the pieces and start again as the saying goes. One reassurance is that it's easier the next time round: we're more familiar with the pieces and practised at the work.
Sometimes there are pieces you just have to try all different ways to find out how they belong.
It takes determination and flexible thinking to keeping on trying. Occasionally we also have to realise that what we were convinced was say a “bonnet” is actually part of a street lamp and be willing to look in a new direction to find the perfect fit.
It can also be very comforting to remind ourselves that even though we might come across a difficult or odd-shaped piece that we can't place just yet, it will all make sense in the long run. Every seemingly random piece contributes to the beautiful whole.
We don't need Christmas or a special occasion as an excuse to get working on this wonderful puzzle of life, but as it's here, why not lift the lid and get started?
•Julia Pitt is a trained Success Coach and certified NLP practitioner on the team at Benedict Associates. For further information contact Julia on (441) 705-7488, www.juliapittcoaching.com.