As I was driving home last night, my mind was in one of those moods where I was thinking about everything and yet nothing at the same time.
I have no idea where it came from, but suddenly I thought about one of my all time pet peeves, something that I occasionally pick up when people talk. I’ve heard it for years and still hear it every now and then.
It’s a phrase that goes a little something like this: ‘I’ve done a full 360 and turned my life around.’
At this point, I’m wondering if it’s just me who hates when people say this. It could very well be. None the less, this cliche got me thinking. As I was cruising through the streets, my mind followed, and cruised through this concept of a 360-degree turn. A concept that involves us doing a complete turn that ends with us facing in the exact same direction we were initially heading in the first place.
A 180-degree turn would obviously be turning half way and heading in the exact opposite direction.
A 360-degree turn would mean we’re facing in the exact same direction, right? I couldn’t shake the thought from my mind and so explored the concept a little further.
Is there something to be gained from a complete full circle turn in our lives?
How often in life had you needed to do a 180-degree turn? How often have you had to make an intentional decision to stop the path you’re currently travelling on, turn around in the exact opposite direction and follow an entirely different path? Just being completely raw and honest with you, I could probably count the number of times I’ve needed to do a full 180-degree life turn on one hand.
Am I perfect? Ask absolutely anyone who’s known me for more than three minutes, and you’ll quickly learn I’m not. I’m constantly changing and re-adjusting my approach to life, and along with it, being intentional about the thoughts, choices and actions I’m thinking and acting on. These are minor degree changes, not the illusive 180-degree turn I’m thinking of.
A 180-degree turn isn’t something we need to do often. If we did, our lives would be going nowhere but backwards and forwards over the same ground constantly.
This being said, how does a full 360-degree turn come into this?
“Pete, a 360-degree turn takes us to exactly where we started! This makes absolutely no sense.”
Don’t worry, I haven’t lost my mind. I thought the exact same thing. I thought about that until I realised there may actually be so much to be gained from stopping—remember this word…I’ll explain later—making a full 360-degree turn and resuming in the exact direction you are already heading.
You see, the 360-degree turn isn’t necessarily useful for major life change.
Where it comes into its own lies in this one word: reflection. You see, when we stop and start our 360-degree turn, we start seeing the things surrounding us in our life. Things passing and moving around us. Things that we are moving and passing by. We look to the right and see the people surrounding us on a similar journey. This gives us hope we’re on the right path and have a sense of community and accountability to keep us heading in the right direction.
We continue turning and see what is behind us: the often negative and immature thinking, habits, relationships and events in our lives. Along with it, the seasons of grief, hopelessness, fear and anxiety that we have overcome and gone through to get to where we are today. This is a perfect moment to reflect on where we were and be grateful for the strength and courage to get through those difficult times.
Before we continue turning back to where we were initially facing, I want to come back to that word I asked you to remember earlier. The four letter word that is the single most important of this entire exercise: stop.
Imagine we are doing this 360 turn in the middle of a running race. If we were to look to the right during our life race, we may keep our balance for a while. You can handle turning right and running at the same time, right?
What happens when we keep looking further around, all the way behind us, to see where we’ve come from? We inevitably lose balance and fall over. Why? Because our focus is on the past. Our vision is not focused on where our lives should be heading. There is a clash of vision and action, and we eventually stumble and fall.
But what if we keep wanting to look at the past? Maybe certain good feelings, comfort, temptation and a sense of ease are drawing us back to what we’ve already overcome.
The other option is when we gradually look all the way around and gently adjust our vision as we go. Our bodies will eventually follow and face that way also. As our vision and our actions start heading in another direction, we would suddenly be crossing over the lanes beside us—remember, we’re still in this race—off the side of the track, before we eventually veer back in our lane. But this time we’re running in the opposite direction, back to the comfort and familiarity of the situations, people, habits and negative thinking we’ve already overcome.
Here’s the Key to a Successful 360-Degree Turn
There’s a four letter word that makes this turn possible. Before we reflect and take our 360-degree turn, it is imperative that we first stop. This is an exercise to do after we have stilled our soul and mind; it can be as quick as a few seconds, or as long as you need it to take. As we are in a still state of reflection, we can turn around and observe where we have come from and be grateful for how far we’ve come along our journey without our actions sending us running back to where we’ve come from.
When you’re ready to start the second half of your 360-degree turn, keep that attitude of gratitude and bring your vision and focus back on the path ahead of you. Realign that vision with your future goals, dreams and ambitions and, once you’ve positioned yourself, take that first step forward and resume your journey.
As you gather momentum and continue on your journey, pat yourself on the back, you’ve just completed a 360-degree turn! You’ve taken a reflective look at who is surrounding you, and the negative aspects of life you’ve overcome and persisted through to get to where you are today.
Now that you are realigned on your initial path, you can continue in the confidence that you are capable of achieving the true desires of your heart. You’re capable of overcoming the obstacles and challenges that are awaiting for you up ahead.
How do you know you can overcome them? Because you’ve done it before, and each time you go through a season, you grow through it. You are now stronger than you were back then.
Your journey ahead is waiting for you one step at a time. We don’t need to worry about what’s to the left, right or behind us. We’re not going in those directions.
We’ll always be surrounded by distractions, tempted by the action in the lanes next to us, and even right behind us. Our own thoughts, other people’s opinions and events that we don’t have control over are all distractions. There is no doubt they are present, but that doesn’t mean we have to focus on them. We have the choice to keep our vision and actions focused on the path ahead.
Look forward. Cast your vision on what’s ahead and focus on the next step towards your dream. You’ve come so far already. You’ve got this and your best is yet to come!