What Is Your Tipping Point?

Freyed rope breaking

One Thread At A Time

What will it take for you to decide that you want a different life, a different reality than the one you are living right now?

Most of us are living day-to-day, running on auto pilot, letting our routines and habits make the majority of the decisions each day as we dream of a life different than the one we are following.

Routines are an important part of living in modern society. Without them we would be quickly overwhelmed in decisions to make each and every day.

What time to get up, what clothes to wear, which car to drive, what route to take to work or the store, what to eat for lunch, where to shop on the way home, what to watch on TV, what time to go to bed…

These small threads of time-savers that free up our minds to work on other, less repetitive problems have a silent side effect. They work together to build ropes of habit. Ropes that solidly bind us to our routines.

The more I think about what it will take to get us free enough to start the travelling that we so despiratlely desire, the more aware I am of the mental habits I have.

This problem too, shall seem simple once it is solved.

As I read the blogs of other families that have made their traveling dreams come true, I can only imagine the effort that they put in to overcoming the ropes of their habits. We see the results of their efforts but rarely hear about their struggles.

In our own stories, our ego wants us to portray ourselves as victors, as over-comers that have vanquished our mental foes and become the hero. Too often this keeps us from revealing our struggles, our internal battles that we have to face each time we trip over a rope of habit that is keeping us from moving towards the attainment of our goal.

We always imagine our own struggles to be more significant that others because we are living them. Even when we do get a glimpse into another person’s struggles, they usually seem to be less daunting than that obstacles that we face. When we don’t have a full picture of where that person was when they faced a particular hardship, we have no idea how insurmountable that hardship seemed at the time.

The same is true for each of us. As we work through the roadblocks on the way to our dreams each one can seem impossible at the time. I once read the quote, “This problem too, shall seem simple once it is solved.” I remind myself of that frequently. I can look back in my life and remember times when I had absolutely no idea how I was going to overcome something that stood in my way.

Each time, one way or another I was eventually able to overcome that obstacle. By reminding myself of my past successes, I can encourage myself to continue to address those things that are currently standing between me and my dreams.

Wish, Want, Need, Got.

When we dream of a different life, we start by wishing we could live that life. How that “new life” is different than the one you are in right now is important. What ever these differences are, pay attention to them. From your wishes spring the true passions of your life. Almost all great achievements started as someone’s wish.

Freedom to travel, getting an education, relocating, getting a better job, starting a business, quitting a bad habit, all of these things start off as a wish long before they are realized.

If the desire is strong enough, it moves us from wishing to wanting. All too often a wish is ignored or dismissed as a childish dream. This is truly unfortunate. We would all be so much better off if we were taught to pursue our dreams and not ignore them.

People around us feel like they are doing us a favor when they tell us to be “realistic”, and not to be such a “dreamer”. Where is the fun in that? Where does being “realistic” get us but in the same rut that they are in? Our wishes and dreams deserve better than that! Wanting, however, is not quite enough.

Only when that desire turns into a need will we be able to move to attaining it. If we are mindful enough of our dreams and desires, and we give them the thought and intention that they deserve, those that mean the most to you can become needs. Wanting to travel the world is very common. Needing to travel the world is something all together different. This is what separates those that say they want to travel and those that do. It is the difference between “some day” and July, 30, 2012.

We all need to breathe. This isn’t a wish or a want. It is an absolute need. If someone is holding you underwater for more than a minute you will have no doubt that breathing is a need. When our need to attain a goal is as strong as our need to breathe, it will then be achieved.

The ropes of habit that we build each and every day have to be overcome. Only when we need to achieve our dreams more than we need to follow our habits will we make those dreams come true. One by one, the ropes of habit must be cut.

Sometimes it seems like we have to cut each fiber, one at a time in order to weaken their hold. This is why wishes and wants are insufficient. It is easier to succumb to habits than it is to resist them for a wish.

At some point, we reach a tipping point and that is when we are on the path to achieving our dreams. The transition from want to need is that tipping point. For someone that wants to travel it may be an obvious change like the loss of a job.

For most of us though, it will be much more subtle. It will be the culmination of a number of small events. A bad day at work. Getting cut off on the commute home from work one too many times. Realizing that the house you live in and cars you drive were chosen more as status symbols than for their primary function. Having your child come home from school in tears because they were bullied again.

These small events can add up to a tipping point. That point in time where you realize that things must change. That no matter what it takes, you will achieve your dreams.

What is your tipping point? What will it take to make you decide that you have no choice but to make your dreams come true?

Leave a comment and tell us what your tipping point was.

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9 Responses to What Is Your Tipping Point?

  1. Martina March 20, 2012 at 7:26 am #

    Good article, Mike.

    I have been through a few of these tipping points. And I anxiously await the next.

    They have occurred in the past i\usually when I have been of work for an illness or surgery. I don’t blame the work for any of these, but I was faced with enough time to slow down, and think, and see what I really didn’t like about my situation. It was also usually right after those periods of recovery (on many levels) that I changed things. Changes where I lived or how I did me job.

    The dream is still on track and the next tipping point awaits me.



    • Mike Routen March 20, 2012 at 12:11 pm #


      I like how you have used times when things have slowed down to reevaluate and make changes going forward.

      That is something we should all choose to do on a more regular basis.

      Thank you for sharing!


  2. Ben Holt March 20, 2012 at 7:57 am #

    My tipping point was getting engaged.

    I had been on the usual path, working corporate jobs, for over a decade. I knew this was preventing me from what I wanted in life, and I was chronically depressed, even suicidal. Apathy, laziness, and (ironically) depression were major influences on me against taking action.

    When I got engaged, I realized that I no longer had my own happiness to consider, but hers as well. Two months before the wedding, I cashed in my 401k and saved-up paid vacation time, quit my job, and launched full-on into online business.

    Sure it has been a wild, scary ride, but all my depression is gone, and i wake up excited every single day – quite literally!

    • Mike Routen March 20, 2012 at 12:08 pm #


      It is unfortunate that our success is usually borne out of pain, but that is often the case.

      I’m glad to hear that you saw that tipping point for what it was and took full advantage of it! And, now I’m sure you both are much happier for it.

      Way to go! You are definitely on the right track.

      Thanks for sharing.


  3. Paige | simple mindfulness March 22, 2012 at 9:51 pm #

    My first tipping point came in my late 20’s after working at a big firm in Boston, quickly climbing the corporate ladder. After seeing the true lives of the partners, I wondered if that’s all there was to life. I hoped to hell not and didn’t feel like I could stick around to find out. I quit my job, put everything in storage, put what would fit in my Jeep and headed west, following my screaming intuition.

    That turned into a 2 year “sabbatical” where I lived in the mountains, playing with horses, having the best time of my life. I settled in a beautiful home on 20 acres in the mountains of Colorado with a new husband. I learned the importance of living my life on my own terms. We can make anything happen if we want it badly enough.

    • Mike Routen March 25, 2012 at 2:24 pm #


      It was very insightful of you to see the writing on the wall in your 20’s.

      Your “sabbatical” sounds like it was quite the success!

      Thank you for sharing.

  4. Colleen April 10, 2012 at 8:25 am #

    Hi Mike! Another great and insightful post! Thank you! You are absolutely correct about our habits and the want/need factor! So many of us live our lives wanting, but so few of us ever reach the need state.

    I am working towards my next tipping point!

  5. Euro Expat July 20, 2012 at 8:05 pm #

    My tipping point came today. I have an online teaching job that I really enjoy but the company I work for is well….we won’t go into that. I and several colleagues (actually most of them) have just received warnings. Warnings? “Dear XXX, You are receiving this email because you are not meeting the standards set by (our company)….” Huh? Me, proud of my work and totally dedicated to my students? Popular by all accounts? Me? Who fills out my reports in detail and gets them in on time? Me? Who is never late to class? Me? Who receives high scores? Me? Who has spent the last 10 years bending over backwards for this company?….What are they talking about? What was I being accused of? “Immediate action is needed and failure to do so may result in another warning.” I had to defend myself but from what? “We would also like to bring to your attention that should you receive two more warnings, the service agreement that you signed with (company name) will be terminated.” OMG The warning wasn’t even signed. Who was I to protest to? What had I done?

    Actually, I had done very little except acquiese to a request by a student to use an alternative sound system for the classroom, something that had been approved by management, just not for B2B students. My reaction was, “They have got to be kidding.” One mistake and I get an official warning? A threat of possible termination? It was then that it hit me. What the heck am I doing? I am working like a dog at a company that doesn’t give a &%#!! for its workers. No pay raises, just pay cuts. Barely able to make enough to pay my bills. What kind of a life was this? And then I realized. It was time. I called my daughter and told her I was heading out–selling the house, she could take what she wanted. She said, “That’s great, Mom!…By the way, can I borrow some money…?”

    • Mike Routen July 23, 2012 at 6:06 am #


      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your story. It is a great example of reaching a tipping point.

      Do you have any plans on where your first stop will be? My family and I are considering Costa Rica and Italy for our first stop.