Tension: Too Loose, Too Tight, Or Just Right?

Tension: Too Loose, Too Tight, Or Just Right?

Ironies of ironies…this wasn’t exactly how this post was “suppose” to begin. You see, I wrote it last week and was all set to publish it on Thursday (1/24) morning. But that wasn’t possible; I woke up and my website was gone. Poof! There was nothing but a white screen staring back at me.

Major problem given that my business is highly dependent upon having on an online presence.

I’ll spare you the details of what went wrong and why. But suffice it to say, my experience reminded me of two more “faces” of tension, which I hadn’t covered in my piece originally scheduled to go live last week: a) the tension that exists between the way you’d like things to be vs. the way they are; and b) the tension of having the “what” but lacking the knowledge of the “how.”

The right version of my site was fully restored yesterday…woohoo! :) Now that the site is back and cranking on all cylinders, let’s (finally) have that conversation about tension – the kind that’s related to change and growth.

What role does tension play in helping you get to the next level?

I’ve been thinking a lot about change and growth, in general. But also in relationship to being stuck, specifically from the perspective of what it means to be stuck; how does one get unstuck; why do you remain stuck, etc. And during a recent conversation with a friend and colleague, Anna Goldstein, I started thinking about the intersection of tension and stuckiness (not a real word, I know!) and expansion.

Tension is Natural

From the moment you set a new goal, tension begins to form. It’s an inevitable component of growth and change. It inherently exists in the gap between the present and the future. So…

The goal isn’t to avoid tension; the challenge is in getting it just right!

Too loose or too tight and you’re likely to sabotage your effort.

Thinking about tension got me to thinking about what happens to you and me when we are intentional about our lives, in general, and during this time of year, in particular. We are three weeks in – just enough time to have gathered some traction as you work toward the goals (or resolutions) you’ve declared. It’s also just enough time to lose momentum and motivation…

But let’s presume you’re still going strong and making some headway. How are you doing managing the tension of taking good care of what you have while working earnestly to create what you want?

Let’s use the realm of business to highlight a few of tension’s many faces in this regard:

  • Profitability vs. Growth

A focus on growing or expanding your business, doesn’t automatically mean you’re increasing its profitability. Growth rarely happens without increasing costs to bring about said growth, and you don’t always experience the financial payoff you expected. What’s the tension: How do you do the things you need to grow the business without sacrificing your bottom line?

  • Short-term vs. Long-term

Change and growth are about the future. What’s the tension: You have to nurture NOW – aka the present; it’s your pathway for where you want to go. But each end of the continuum is “fighting” for your attention and resources.

  • Whole vs. Part

Let’s say you’re overhauling your business. What’s the tension: Determining how best to utilize and allocate your resources (and not just money) – do you revamp everything at once, or piece-meal with the whole in mind?

  • Structure vs. Spontaneity

Creativity, growth, change, expansion…it all needs structure to thrive. (Newsflash: We all need structure to thrive!) What’s the tension: Discerning when structure is “costing” you because you don’t have the fluidity to react to unforeseen challenges or opportunities.

Selfishly, I used the realm of business as my example. But you could easily come up with a list of tensions you’re managing – be it of a professional or personal nature.

Progress Isn’t Free

I know you know progress isn’t free. I also doubt I’m telling you anything you didn’t already know about tension — you recognize the tensions in your life.

But for those times when you bump up against tension, you might need a reminder to: a) factor in the price of what you want vs. the maintenance cost of what you have; and b) focus on getting to just the right amount of tension. It is this combination of “a” and “b” that will help you better manage the change and growth that underlies every one of your goal or desires.

Interestingly, managing the tension of growth is one of the best antidotes for getting unstuck. If you let it, tension can prompt movement and decisiveness. So, if you find yourself at this three week mark stuck – stuck because you’re not making the progress you want, at the pace you want, take a moment to examine the tension between where you are and where you want to be.

The clues of which direction to head and which choice/s to make are there! :)


p.s. take a moment to list what tensions you’re managing and share your ideas for what you’re doing to get the tension just right. Just scroll to the top to “Leave a Comment.”

p.p.s. pretty soon, I’m going to make an announcement about some subtle, yet big goings-on in my world. I am so excited and can hardly wait! :)

p.p.p.s. I am extremely grateful for the discipline of backing-up. If you don’t have a habit of backing-up your stuff – computer files, smartphone, website (if applicable), please DO. SO. NOW! Backup Buddy truly saved the day for me!

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