They're called "rumble strips"; do you know these things? They are little grooved sections of road that often occur along the edge of the road or, at least here in Iowa, there are about three sets of them before a stop sign on a highway.
When your tires go over them it makes a rumbling noise, a sound to alert you that it's time to slow down or make a significant adjustment.
While they may not be grooved sections of pavement, we do have rumble strips in our own lives. They are moments where we have indicators that perhaps we're going too fast, perhaps we're headed off course a bit, or perhaps there's a stop ahead.
- Rumble strips in our work lives tell us we're working on too many things without clear priorities. Maybe the amount of time needed to dig to the bottom of our inbox, finish those meeting notes, or complete that action item and the amount of time at our desk to work before we head off to the next meeting just aren’t adding up.
- Rumble strips in our health tell us we're eating the wrong foods or not taking care of ourselves as much as we should be. Perhaps those extra five pounds have crept their way back into our life as the season has gotten busy, or those gray circles under our eyes are showing the lack of sleep.
- Rumble strips in our family and our relationships indicate that we're not paying close enough attention to those around us. Perhaps the last few exchanges we've had with family members were via text, rather than looking each other in the eyes, or we have had to use a calendar to calculate the last time we spent quality time with our friends.
- Rumble strips in our projects indicate something is out of whack and should not continue on its current path. Maybe risks we'd worried about months ago are becoming realities, or maybe the team morale is visibly deflated under current pressures.
So, what do we do when we encounter rumble strips in our life? Well, we do what we would do on the highway.
Get our bearings.
Come to a complete stop.
Check our surroundings.
Make any adjustments needed.
Look both ways.
Proceed with caution.
- In our work, we might need to slow down, or even come to a complete stop. Reschedule the meetings that can wait. Make desk time in our schedule - a time when we can come to a stop to get to the bottom of our inbox, or finish up the next step of our project.
- In our personal life, maybe we need to check our surroundings. Make time for our family and friends. Look them in the eye and spend some quality time together. Check in with them and learn about how they are doing and what's been going on in their life recently.
- With our health, we can get our bearings and proceed with caution. Double check that we're getting enough sleep at night. Review our food intake to make sure it's well-balanced. Set aside time for physical activity and emotional and spiritual wellness.
Studies show that rumble strips are very effective in reducing accidents on the road. The majority of studies reported large reductions (40 percent to 100 percent*) of accidents after transverse rumble strips (the ones that go across the lane, instead dividing the lane, or running along side it) were installed. If they prove to be so effective in our driving, why would we ignore them when the pop up in other places in life?
What rumble strips do you see in your life today?