I learned to ride a bicycle in Iowa where everything is flat. I just put the bike in the highest gear and peddled till I got tired. My first big trip through the hill towns of Hampshire County in Western Massachusetts did not go well. I was stymied on my first steep ascent, leaving my gears too high, and I lost all my momentum, and came to a dead stop as I watched Jeanne pedal away from me. The second big hill, I shifted from a high gear to a low gear. My pedals ground and skipped and the chain fell off and I was stuck with a messy job, while once again watching Jeanne ride smoothly up the hill.
Getting in the right gear is almost as important in bike riding as being in shape. Recently while cruising up a steep hill, it dawned on me I wasn’t even thinking about gears anymore. I had the feel of what to do. As the road inclined I shifted down a notch at a time and I could decide if it was a middle-to-low gear hill or a low-low gear hill, or a peddle like a gorilla climb. Now I know the right gear is the one where I feel enough resistance that I am pressing smoothly but not slowing down. If I lose momentum I shift down, and if I am pedaling fast without resistance, I shift up the gear to maximize my energy into forward motion.
Imagine for a moment, if I had decided that shifting gears was not my problem, but it was the bike. Then I would go get a new, more expensive bike, which might be lighter and have more gears, but what would happen? I would maybe get 20 feet further uphill before stopping, and my bank account would be smaller. Imagine if I decided the problem was me, I needed to be in better shape. So my solution would be to work out really hard and then attempt to pedal up the mountains in a high gear without shifting. Again, that would help to some extent, but in the end few human beings could accomplish this feat. Some problems cannot be solved by working harder. You need to learn to shift gears.
This seems obvious when the issue is riding a bike up the hill, but we do this all the time. How many situations do you feel like you are riding uphill in the wrong gear? We blame our equipment, we blame our circumstance or we blame ourselves, when we really need to shift, to shift our minds, our vision, our way of looking at things. “Be renewed by the transforming of your mind.” It is a part of being alive, and dealing with change. Shifts are built into our life cycles. a feel for how to use all that information, and know when to shift for ourselves.
Here is one of the biggest mind-shifts we all have to make. A shift is needed when who we were in the past gets in the way of who we are becoming. There is an old self from our past, that does not exist anymore, but it still lives in our heads, so it is real, and holds us back. This old self makes keeps us pedaling through life in a big gear, uphill, so we don’t have any momentum and we just stop and give up.
Are you in the right gear? What part of your life feels like it needs a shift? Don’t get trapped in trying the same thing only with more determination. Experiment with shifting into a different gear-find a way to look at your situation from a different point of view and experiment with another option.