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I went to the eye doctor recently; it was time to get new glasses.  One of the tests, new this visit, was a dilation of my eyes so the doctor could do a more comprehensive eye exam.

Once the eye drops were delivered (the worst part of the procedure, actually, since I am very skittish about my eyes) the drops needed about 15 minutes to take effect.  The actual time the doctor then looked into each of my eyes was probably no more than 2 minutes.  The report?  Everything looks fine …

… except for the next two hours, it didn’t.

Seems it takes about two hours for the dilation to dissipate.  During this time, vision is blurred, as your eyes, with pupils dilated, are ultra sensitive to light.  I needed to wear temporary sunglasses under my regular glasses — really just a strip of light-reducing film — for two hours.  And I needed to scale back my expectations on what I could actually get done on my to do list for those two hours.

This got me to thinking about a change dynamic in work and in life that is universal and unavoidable.

To affect a change from a current state to some desired future state, there is almost always a worse before better pattern.

Have you ever decided to remodel a room in your house?

You plan the remodel, with visions of a brand spanking new kitchen.  You schedule day one of the project, knowing that you will be inconvenienced and with very limited kitchen capability for some time, hopefully not an extended time …

You start to move everything out — counter top items, dishes, food, small and large appliances.  And then you begin to realize that it isn’t just the kitchen that will be in disarray.  The dining room, living room, even family room looks like a war zone …

And then the demolition begins.  And the complications are discovered.  Which, okay, you can handle … what can we do? … but more stress comes from realizing the impact on your schedule … omigosh we aren’t going to be ready for our Labor Day family gathering!

And you start to rue the day you decided on a brand spankin’ new kitchen.

But then, of course, come Labor Day (or perhaps shortly before?) you have your brand spankin’ new kitchen, and you know from that day on it was worth it.

This is no different than implementing a revised work process, installing new technology, restructuring a department, integrating a company acquisition …

Worse before better.  Acceptance of this dynamic is a good thing.

Of course I’m not suggesting acceptance without efforts to minimize.  Stakes are high with both the kitchen remodel and the revised work process.  Spousal and boss unhappiness both have undesirable consequences.  Careful planning makes good sense.

But we need to know that we will need help in sustaining the effort, in pushing through the phases that challenge our confidence and question our decision making and keep us strong and determined in the face of spouses and bosses…

That help must come in the form of a crystal clear vision of the highly desirable future state.  With early and often views.

In other words, we need to keep our eyes on the prize.

The blur is temporary.