This post was originally published on Unsettle.org
Bob and Bubbles were our turtles.
I was 7 and thought they were awesome pets. My brother loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles, and I'm not sure if our ownership of these amphibians was related but I suspect it was.
I remember taking them out to the deck in a little kiddie pool while my mother cleaned their tank. I was only allowed to touch them then, and only if I washed my hands right after. They didn't move around much.
Bob stayed small. He was this cute little dude, about the size of a sand dollar and grew to maybe the size of a Subway cookie.
Bubbles, though. Bubbles had aspirations. He grew from being a little pipsqueak, about the size of Bob, to the size of a side plate, and then bigger.
We couldn't keep them. We didn't have the aquatic means. Not even Bob - Bob and Bubbles were quite attached (like brothers), so when Bubbles outgrew his container, Bob went with him.
How to Know When You Outgrow Your Container
I was three when we moved to my hometown. It was a small town. It's grown substantially since, but when we moved there, it didn't have much. A library, an Overwaitea, a couple of gas stations. Not exactly a thriving urban metropolis.
I was nineteen when I left, about to turn twenty. For years before - five, six, who knows - I'd begged my mother to let us move. We did, shortly (though certainly not because of my pleas), but we boomeranged back to this tiny little town that I had come to resent.
I resented the heat in the summer and snow in the winter. I resented the customers at my retail job who were just people I'd known my entire life and Albertan tourists. I resented the lack of opportunity small-town Canada provided.
I felt suffocated by my surroundings.
Like Bubbles, I'd outgrown my container.
How Big is Your Container?
A funny thing happened the year I moved.
As my container got bigger, so did my life. Previously demotivated, disconnected, and unhealthy, I suddenly felt unstoppable.
I got fit, started a blog, reconnected with long-lost family members. I explored, made new friends, and enrolled in a degree program. I hauled lumber for the better part of a year to pay for it, which was the best-paying job I'd had in my life. I became interested in finance and savings. I went on a vacation.
I began to fill my new container with bigger and better things.
Perhaps you haven't thought of it, but you're in a container, too. We all are. Sometimes, the container is the one that society puts us in. The expectations that we're supposed to fulfill.
The expectation that we need to go to college, get that diploma, get a job with a pension and benefits, and retire at 65 or 55 if we're lucky. That's a container.
The idea that we need to have 1.6 children, live in a big suburban house and new cars parked in the driveway. That's a container.
Sometimes, we put ourselves in containers - containers around the beliefs we have about ourselves, our abilities, and our destinies. My container was very much self-imposed.
And sometimes, containers are good. They help us know our limitations, our boundaries. They prevent us from growing too big, too soon. They lessen the growing pains.
But you choose the container you're in. Unlike Bubbles, you have control over your container.
You'll Outgrow Some Containers
Have you ever heard that fish grow to the size of their tanks? That's what Bubbles did.
You're a lot like Bubbles.
You'll fill the space of your container.
If you expand your container, you'll rise to the occasion. You won't have to try - you'll just continue to expand and broaden. If you stay put in a small container, you'll quickly run out of room to grow.
So give yourself a big container. And don't be afraid to upgrade your container once you've filled it.
How to Increase the Size of Your Container
Maybe you've had a hunch that your container is too small for awhile, but you find yourself swimming circles around it trying to find a way to knock down a wall without much luck.
How can you increase the size of your container?
- Start something. Anything. Prove to yourself that you're an action taker. Start a blog, a fitness program, or a business, start something on the side.
- Travel. When you travel, you make the entire world your container. You begin to see what's possible.
- Shake things up. Find a new job. Move to a new city. Take on a new hobby.
- Face a fear. Do something you are scared to do. Start putting words out there. Start a blog. Approach somebody you admire for coffee. Book a one-way ticket to Europe.
- Achieve something. Anything. It doesn't matter if it's something small, something huge, or a quick win for the day.
- Surround yourself with big people. They'll pull you out of your small container. A rising tide lifts all boats. Bubbles outgrowing his container benefited Bob, too.
The idea is to stretch yourself out of your comfort zone to expand your container. The more you do this, the bigger your container will become, and the bigger you will grow to fill it.
Try to do one thing each day to expand your container. You'll find yourself swapping out for larger containers constantly. Imagine how big your life could become.
So start with today. What will you do today to expand your container?
About Sarah: I used to have to ask for time off. Now I can travel whenever I want and work from anywhere with Wifi. I write and podcast at Unsettle.org where I encourage people to never settle for careers they don't love. Find your perfect lifestyle business idea with her free course so you can stop settling and start building your dream.