Friday, March 11, 2022

Shifting Gears (MY Eng #43)

This is part of a running series about English idioms - less about language, more about life itself. Previously, we covered 'missing the woods for the trees', 'the elephant in the room', 'practising what you preach', blowing hot and cold', 'no smoke without fire', 'one swallow does not make a summer', 'apples and oranges', 'cut to the chase', 'leave no stone unturned', 'that's the way the cookie crumbles', 'can't have your cake and eat it too', 'old is gold', 'putting the cart before the horse', 'mountain out of a molehill', 'pot calling the kettle black', 'bite the bullet', 'go the extra mile', 'silence is golden', 'the devil is in the details', 'sink or swim', 'once bitten twice shy', 'don't count your chickens before they hatch', 'don't put all your eggs into one basket', 'chicken and egg', 'walking on eggshells', 'flogging a dead horse', 'better late than never', 'storm in a teacup', 'between a rock and a hard place', 'darkest before dawn', 'empty vessels make the most noise', 'birds of a feather flock together', 'separate the wheat from the chaff', 'let sleeping dogs lies', 'open a can of worms', 'light at the end of the tunnel', 'trial and error', 'look before you leap', 'lightning in a bottle', 'on the same page', 'don't judge a book its cover' and 'reinvent the wheel'.

Don't we all wish for life to be smooth sailing? Just cruising down a freeway, straight like an arrow. No bumps, no other car in sight. Take a hand off the wheel. Go on the autopilot.

Job stability. Financial security. That's the dream.

But life is never easy. At least, not for long. There may be a honeymoon period before a big project really takes off. Or off-peak blissful moments of peace in between projects. And even when the harvest is plenty for seasons after seasons, all good things must come to an end...

* * *

Seasons turn. Change is the only constant. Nothing lasts forever. Like it or not, to keep on moving, there comes a time when we have to shift gears.

Yes, doing the same work over and over again breeds experience and excellence. Practice makes perfect. Yet, eventually, stagnancy sets in. Out of complacency. Inability to adapt. Or perhaps plain boredom.

There's always room for improvement. New challenges open up new opportunities. Exceeded your annual KPI and earned a hefty bonus? That's great, but the slate gets reset next year.

Yes, take a moment or two to celebrate, kick back, and relax. But tomorrow is a new day. Nver get to comfortable with your successes. Don't rest on your laurels (another idiom!).

* * *

Even when life is going smoothly, it's important to take stock of what you have and where you are at. Life could be better. Or life could be taking an unexpected turn. Either way, keep your eyes fully on the road and your hands on the wheel.

You can't cruise through life forever. Sooner or later, you need to slow down, or quicken the pace. A static life is a dull life. Life is all about shifting gears.

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