“When a big change occurs in your life it forces you to change direction. Sometimes the new path may not be easy, but you can be absolutely certain that there is magnificence for you on the new path. You can be absolutely certain that the new path contains things that you could not have experienced otherwise. When we look back at a negative event that occurred in the past, we often see how in fact it transformed our life. We see how that event directed us toward a life that we would not change for anything. ” Rhonda Byrne
This quote struck home. During the past couple of years we have experienced much change. We aren’t alone.
Many people today find they are reinventing themselves. For any number of reasons they are stepping outside of their rut and trying a new life on for size. It can be due to the worldwide economic problems or it could be self imposed – either way it means a dramatic shift in business as usual. Starting life over again at any age takes one out of their comfort zone, however one tends to be less flexible with age.
Rigidity is frequently due to our sense of who we are, and our egos. By the time one is in their 50’s, one is typically a self-proclaimed “expert” in one’s career, neighborhood, politics, interactions with others, etc. Like Popeye one has a sense that “I y’am who I y’am.” Most people by this point have pretty much climbed the mountain of their desires or have a sense of no longer desiring to do so.
BANG! Change happens and unless one finds an identical job in the same field, is living with their same spouse, and lives in the same area – the person is off kilter.
Let me hasten to explain that I don’t view the inevitable turmoil as necessarily a bad thing. Some people fear change and the resulting emotional chaos to the degree that they endure the same abusive person, hated job, or dangerous living situation for decades. They placate their desperately unhappy selves by finding excuses to endure the unacceptable because in their minds making a change is worse than what they are experiencing. They feel trapped and thus are. They are the “glass almost empty” people who look at the “what if” and always imagine worse. As if there could be something worse!
I once spoke with an executive recruiter with a highly successful search firm. He told me that cocktail parties were onerous as inevitably once he told people what he did for a living, a person would proceed to tell him all about the horrible job they had and how badly they wanted out. The workload was mammoth, the boss rivaled Atila the Hun, the coworkers were backstabbing opportunists, they had minimum or no vacation, and they were working for peanuts. When the recruiter asked how long they had worked in this environment, the unhappy individual would respond that it had been ten or more years. His response? Well you must get something out of it to stay so long as there are always other jobs!
Of course not all situations are as clear cut – life is rarely so obvious. Sometimes the self-inflicted change is brought about by a sense of no longer feeling excited or exciting. It isn’t that life is horrid – it’s just dull. I see this example when I speak to some people about their careers. The job has become rote even when it is challenging. Yes, you love your coworkers and you may even feel a sense of accomplishment however days and weeks and months stretch on and you are just wading through waist-deep career mud. You’ve seen it all and done it all and there are days where you think “if I have to go to one more meeting and hear the same tired stuff said by the same people, I’ll scream.”
Despite being sick and tired of what we are doing, I’m not saying we have no value at the job. To the contrary – we can be the “go to” people. We have knowledge and experience that only time provides. We are the leaders. We are the ones who have the calm presence of mind to help others get through the “all hands on deck” crisis. This isn’t a question of competency – it is a question of feeling as though your spirit is entrapped.
It makes me wonder why we are so afraid of changing if we are miserable. Is it a question of “the devil we know being better than the devil we don’t”? No choice is perfect but it’s exciting to embrace the newness, the change!
I encourage people to step out of their discomfort zone. As difficult as change is, we bring so much to the table – a lifetime of experiences and knowledge – and it very well may be that it is better utilized in following another dream.