Do you need to swim jump or fly?

Charlotte Sheridan
4 min readNov 1, 2022

This is the Swim Jump Fly Advent calendar — 12 bite-sized pieces of advice from my new book Swim Jump Fly: A guide to changing your life. In this post we’ll cover the size of the change you want to make.

When we’re working through change there’s no point putting in more effort than we need. Animals move in different ways: a fish swims, a grasshopper jumps and a bird flies and I use these to represent the size of the change you want to make and the distance you need to travel.

Fish: a steady forward motion, with tweaks and iterations here and there, enabling you to swim to nearby waters. Grasshopper: jumping further away (physically or metaphorically), whilst retaining a few elements of your current situation. Bird: trying things out, flying over there, landing over here and potentially ending up a long way from where you started — an opportunity for change and reinvention.

In the book Swim Jump Fly I call it the which stage of the 5-step process, because you’re focusing on which animal you might be in this situation. By the way it isn’t a psychometric and these aren’t fixed character traits, we can all change in different contexts. Below is an exercise from the book that will help you work on this.

First, think about a change you want to make. Ask yourself:

  • How far do I need to travel to make this change successful?
  • Is it a few tweaks here and there? Or a further distance? Or do I need a total change?
  • Go back to the fish, grasshopper and bird above. Which of those best fits the change you need to make right now? Is it fish (incremental and small steps), grasshopper (jump a bit further/make more change) or bird (fly into something completely different)?

Second, think about your personality and appetite for risk. Ask yourself:

  • How do I generally approach change? Do I feel anxious/am I a little risk averse? Or am I a little bolder and can deal with a bit more change? Or do I enjoy taking risks and like to change often?
  • Now go back to the fish, grasshopper and bird above. Which…
Charlotte Sheridan

Psychologist, coach, writer, photographer… juggling them all but often dropping balls.