What’s Your Flat Tire?

Boom. Pop. Shaking. Loss of Control. That awful feeling you get when you hear or know when your tire is going flat. A few months ago I was taking a short ride out to get a few groceries. I was biking along the road and somehow managed to ride over some pieces of a broken taillight hanging out in the bike lane. My tire was slightly punctured and was leaking slowly. I wasn’t too far from home so I kept going for a little bit. My once easy bike ride suddenly felt like I was peddling down the road with a four hundred pound gorilla on my back. Even the small hill seemed terrible, like trying to run in deep sand. Eventually I did make it home. I gave the tire a nice little inspection confirming my disbelief that the tinniest shard of plastic had slowed down my life that much.2553583162_c700880aa8

The ironic part about a tire on a bike, car or plane, is that it is one of the least expensive, yet most vital parts of the vehicle. Of the thousands of parts that make up a car, a tire is often one of the simplest- yet, most crucial to its functioning. When it is not working- even though it is just a tiny part, it makes the entire vehicle almost inoperable. It doesn’t matter how nice the leather is or how big the engine, a car won’t go very fast or far on a flat tire. How about a multimillion dollar plane that can’t operate because it ran over some debris in the runway and punctured one of the tires? Or what about that bike in your garage with a flat tire waiting to not be ridden?

Often in our lives most things are working well, but there is some little, seemingly insignificant piece of our life that is slowing us down. Sometimes, it might be as serious as an epic blow-out, but most of the time it is just a slow leak that makes our life that much more difficult. So, is there something small that is weighing you down? Something simple that, if you fixed it, would make the rest of your life run much more smoothly?

What is the one thing that is holding you back?
At different points in my life I’ve had plenty of things that kept me from becoming the person that I wanted to be. Sometimes they were very obvious and I could see them in the mirror (or the list of unchecked new year’s resolutions). But if I couldn’t figure it out, I’m sure my family, Ms. SE, or my friends would be able to see it in seconds. In fact, it is often much easier to see the things that are weighing down the people closest to us first before we see it in ourselves. But really, do you know what is slowing you down? What could that one thing be that keeps you from being where you want to be? Some of the most consistent flat tires I’ve seen in myself and others would be a habit, job, weight, smoking, alcohol, trust, health, debt or even an unhealthy relationship. The great news is that often addressing one of these things can make everything else in our lives that much better. If everything in your life is going great but self-induced health problems are weighing you down it probably feels like you are going uphill with a flat tire. If you are making a lot of money but are still disorganized and have piles of debt, you have a flat tire. If your job is going great but you have an addiction to alcohol, tobacco or food that is causing family strife, you can sense something is weighing you down.

Pumping up the flat tire
Once we understand the importance of having properly inflated tires, we can go about the process of deciding what is holding us back and how to fix it. So, how do we change habits? I suppose that is the million dollar question. Although this subject is one of my favorites, I’ll currently defer to the raining champion of habit change, Leo. While I don’t notice it as much with our car (except when we calculate MPG), after pumping up my semi-flat bike tires to full pressure it feels like riding a brand new bike! It makes going up hills super easy and things that were previously challenging become effortless. Even if your car is still a little messed up, having a great set of tires will make the rest of the vehicle work much better. And even if we still have plenty of things that are not perfect in our lives, identifying and fixing a big one will certainly help the rest of the parts.

Have you ever successfully changed a bad habit? It is pretty encouraging and addictive. It seems that one habit often leads to other habits. Both on the positive and negative, habits tend to be reinforcing. While changing habits is often difficult, rarely is it monetarily expensive. Most of our issues are actually costing us money. In fact, if your car has a flat tire, often a $5 plug will fix you right up and put you back on the road. It is funny how a $5 issue can keep a $45k machine from functioning.

Smooth Sailing
The great part about getting your tires all pumped up is, its pretty easy maintenance once things are going well. Once your life is functioning pretty well, when something breaks, often fixing it will put you right back on course. And don’t keep putting things off. Biking up a hill with a flat tire is tiring. Don’t wear yourself out functioning with some broken pieces. Spend the time upfront to fix it up and you will be smooth sailing from then on!




One thought on “What’s Your Flat Tire?

  1. I’d thought I’d commented earlier but it looks like it didn’t take…sorry about that. I love the metaphor. My step-dad used to tell me that it’s not the boulders in your path that make the journey hard, but the pebble in your boot. Same idea here: it’s important to find the small things that might be hindering our effectiveness dramatically (in my case, television and procrastination).