I coached someone this week and was struck by fact that they had a whole extra room in their house that wasn’t really used for anything in particular. It just stood out to me as a stark contrast in relation to where I live at the moment, on the outskirts of London. As I was walking down the street today I noticed how every single inch of space here is used. Every room in every house has a use. Every cupboard in every house is valuable. Storage is at a premium. Apartments are built in the smallest spaces, cafes pack in as many tables as possible. Then I thought some more about London City life and the culture here and how not just our physical space but also every moment of time is utilized. People are busy, very busy. Sometimes I have to forward book an appointment with a friend six or more weeks in advance. People tend to work hard and play hard. With a plethora of choices; choices of where to go, what to do, friends, churches, jobs, its normal for most people here to have lives that are full and in many cases overflowing with activities.
So, just how does our environment affect our perspective? What could being in an environment alongside the tight efficient use of space and time that London offers bring?
As much as I long for space, London’s fast ebb and flow gives me a sense of momentum; a sense of endless opportunities. It puts me in a situation where I have to make choices and fully own what I want as there is so much to choose from and so many different directions to go in. You could say it forces me to know who I am so I don’t get lost and drawn along with the crowds and busyness. It also gives me a broad diverse variety of inputs to constantly stimulate my creativity in driving my business forward. It’s like being the midst of hundreds of different worlds colliding together all at the same time.
The challenges are a constant need to set boundaries, boundaries around my time, boundaries around when I take forward ideas, plans and dreams I have, as all of them present themselves as possibilities around me. I need to constantly come back to focus, remember what season I am in, and say ‘no’ to things that are sometimes good and amazing…. but out of season and can distract me from achieving my goals for now.
Without a clear direction, without the ability to be decisive, to say ‘no’, to stay focused, I could be swallowed up into the chaos. I could end up following circumstances, someone else’s vision, a latest trend or worse still my very temporal feelings wherever they happen to draw me in the midst of so much variety. Is it possible that cities like this in fact draw people who are searching for direction? It’s such an ideal place to explore and try out many things and discover which one fits.
I’ve learnt that my favourite most interesting way of developing myself and my calling is to experience the contrast of both the ‘every inch of space counts’ and the ‘oodles of space’ places.
How do we think differently in a more spacious environment? What does it give us when we have oodles of extra room around? When we have time, space and unfilled days? As time goes on I’ve realized how retreat and spending time where there is space, whatever that may look like, actually adds richness to my life and my perspective. This richness of contrast tends to propel me forward in life faster. Being in the fast paced place then retreating and refocusing, then going back to the fast pace gives me great perspective. Retreating may look like taking a few hours out in a coffee shop to journal, or having a formal day’s retreat, or simply taking 20 minutes first or last thing to take stock.
My point in all of this is, how important experiencing the contrast of both of these cultures is in our lives. Without experiencing the contrast I feel I get a bit lop sided. Always having space or never having it can narrow my thinking. Having coached people who want to make big life and business changes, I’ve observed that not much change happens until space is created for it. Of course deciding to take time to get coached is the first step, but then more changes and more space generally need to be created to substantiate the change.
On the other side of the coin, when moving into new things, I’ve noticed that too much space, doesn’t really work either. Deciding on just waiting and praying can be exactly the wrong thing to do sometimes, as opposed to surrounding oneself with options, exploring opportunities, stepping into the right community and taking actions.
Every single day of our lives counts. Every single day is a precious opportunity to spend intentionally towards what God has called us to. What do you need right now to take you further into your destiny; less space or more?