How long will it take to see changes in my life? This is the question people ask me about coaching the most. While there is no definitive answer, I think it’s useful to draw an analogy to another of life’s biggest puzzles.
Imagine your life as a Rubik’s cube. Each of the surfaces represents one important aspect of your life. When the colors are mixed up, it means your life is not in a balance, not quite as you want it to be. If you solve the Rubik’s cube, then your life is in balance, harmonious, and you are satisfied with it. The question now is, how long will it take you to solve the Rubik’s cube?
If you just randomly start turning the pieces, you have over 43 quintillion possible configurations. But, according to researchers from Paolo Alto, it takes no more than 20 moves to solve any Rubik’s cube! This means you’ll find a solution with between 20 and 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 moves.
The good news is that getting to 20 isn’t magic. I’ll share some insights that will help you solve the Rubik’s cube, and transform your life, much faster.
1. Fixed Center Pieces:
“Notice that no matter what kind of face rotation you do, the center pieces always stay in the same position. They determine the color of each face.” *
There are some anchors in your life like personal values, life purpose, and your true self. Those things represents who you are, and they are integrated part of you and your life. They stay the same, even if everything around you, changes. They are the core of who you are and, without honoring them and living according to them, you would just walk around in circles. How familiar are you with these integral parts of you? What are your values and what moves you from inside where times are tough, or good? Being aware of what creates your center and moving from there can be transformational. Ignoring them is like treating symptoms and ignoring a cause. How often do you start from that place when making decisions?
2. Edges and Corners
“Beside the fixed center pieces the cube is composed of 8 corner pieces with 3 stickers and 12 edge pieces with two stickers.” *
All surfaces are connected to each other. As with your life, there is no single, isolated part. Everything is connected and influences each other, including your behavior, intentions, values, acts or way of being. Some areas have a greater impact on your life, either because you give them bigger meaning or because they are interconnected with many others. How aware are you of connections between the important areas in your life? What are the underling values for it? Have you ever overlooked any connections and despite doing “the right thing” had to deal with consequences of that?
3. Too Many Cases
“There are so many possible configurations (over 43 quintillion) that it would be impossible to solve it by randomly turning the faces until it's all done.” *
How often do you stop and reflect on your life and present patterns and beliefs which determine your life? Have you ever gone to a school to get a degree just because your parents, friends or some else told you it would be good for you? After some time, you noticed that your job is not really fulfilling and you started a master’s degree or MBA just because you didn’t know what else to do. It did not help much despite a new title, bigger money or a promotion. How much time, energy and other resources does it cost to cover for the lack of satisfaction and purpose? How fast are you ready to rotate the cube to do something just because you think that, this is expected from you, or that everyone else around is doing it, so you do not want to be left behind?
4. The Strategy
“It's hard not to break the solved pieces while fixing new ones.” *
Have you ever had a feeling like almost everything is in place, only this one little thing left: lose some weight, change your job, have a kid, move to a new country that you’ve always dreamt of … whatever that is, it is always connected to the other parts of your life. You know this. While playing with a Rubik’s cube, have you noticed that, when you solve one of the surfaces, you get almost paralyzed and you do not want to move any further not to break the solved pieces? Have you ever experienced that in your life? You felt like you have settled with your friends and in a relationship and it is time now to move with your career. You can get this new job, you just need to move countries. This requires being in a new unknown place for a while and changing dynamics in your relationships, with your partner and friends. Would you leave your comfort zone to honor your values or would you rather stay comfortable, whatever it means for you in this situation? How many times in your life did you let that kind of opportunity slip, just in order not to break something working at the moment?
It might sound like an easy task now, but it’s not: get familiar with your center and act from there. Understand all the interconnections between important parts of your life, make a strategy how to use your strength and work on your weaknesses. Just that. Well, it might be if you were a standalone cube or an isolated island.
There are few more things, however, which you may notice:
We are all connected and next to your cube is another one, which is also constantly in flux. Even if you put your pieces together, there will be something from outside which is going to move your cube too. It might have a small or a big impact on you and, depending on how well you are familiar with your own cube, you’re going to go back to balance or not.
The moment you start to get to know your cube, you might notice that some of the surfaces from other cubes, although seemingly similar, do not match any of yours anymore and all the moves are just destructive. Even if most of the surface is in the same color but the center is not, you are going to spend all your time and energy and get nowhere. On the other hand, other cubes with the same center’s color as yours, with their own moves, will also contribute to yours, so it would take you less effort to put it together.
The cubes which are close to ours have a great impact on our lives. If you are surrounded with the right ones, everything will be easier and smooth, and this will impact all other surfaces. If you are surrounded with the wrong ones, you will have to constantly work harder and have worst results.
Being in balance means to keep moving.
Since we are all connected and moves from outside impact also us, we need to keep moving to go back to the equilibrium. It is exactly like sanding on one leg and keep balance. You either don’t use your core, and the moves are usually big, uncoordinated, you need to engage your arms, torso, a leg which is up and maybe even lean on something and it cost you a lot of movement and energy. If the strength comes out from your core, the movements are minimal, almost invisible and you can stay still. You might look like nothing is moving but the move comes from the inside and is very small, yet very strong and powerful. The first case remains me of people who say that they are too busy in their life to take care of their life (to stop, reflect and respond). Which means they are just blindly turning the Rubik’s cube and getting closer and closer to 43 quintillion of moves.
Your life is more complex than the Rubik’s cube.
Yes, it is more than a linear process. It is filled with emotions, feelings, dreams, intentions, values, purposes, needs and many more. In order to get to know yourself well, you need to be patient (play-observe-repeat), as well as open and courageous to accept what just unfold for you.
Solving the Rubik’s cube is a life long journey, which, repeating after Hellen Keller, “is a daring adventure or nothing.”