SHIFTING GEARS

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” – Maria Robinson

It’s January 3rd and the year is freshly minted but still quite the newborn who is just beginning to open its eyes and learn to cry.  How much can happen in three days and how can we possibly derail ourselves so quickly?  Ha!  What happened to my plan to eat healthy after New Year’s?  Well, who doesn’t need a greasy breakfast to tame a hangover?  What happened to exercising every day?  Well, I was really tired from eating that greasy breakfast and the hangover and needed to rest for a while.  That is the funny thing about life.  It just sort of happens no matter how much planning you do.  Hence, the need to avoid resolutions.

I woke up this morning inspired and ready to get back to work.  It has been two weeks since I have actually sat down at my desk and even thought about the work that lies ahead of me.  I abandoned efforts to build my website and decided to give my clients a reprieve from follow-up emails (I guessed that no one would actually be around to respond anyway).  But, today, the world woke up again.  I got my energy flowing with a 6am kickboxing class – which always sparks both my mental and physical juices – and then was ready to take on the day.  As I sat here at my desk, trying to continue my commitment to my new ritual of writing every morning (which has actually taken a holiday since last year too), I looked for some inspiration.  The last few days have been personally very challenging and have initiated a lot of thoughts in my mind about the fluidity of life.  I used to think that our lives had a linear path with some clear-cut choices.  Even now, whenever I lament about “what could have been”, it is usually in the context of a road I could have chosen and implies that, by not taking that road, it has adversely impacted the entire outcome of my life.  Of course, that is simply not the case.  Decisions certainly impact our outcomes in both positive and negative ways and, since life is fluid and we are always changing, we need to continually revisit our decisions and strategies.

From a professional standpoint, I have often looked at people who have stayed in one job for many years or who have chosen careers that did not require them to re-invent themselves after downsizing or boredom hit.  The idea of such career longevity is so tantalizing to me because it suggests (albeit falsely) the you have a level of security and assurance that the course chosen was the right one because it sustained you for so long.  In my discussions with people who have chosen such careers as well as with those who have had multiple careers in their life, they all agree that the linear career path has its pros and cons.  Many people have told me that the only reason they have stayed with one company for 10 or 20 years was out of fear of leaving.  They feared losing their pension or other perks that came with the tenure of being with a company for so long.  They worried about how they might function and thrive in another organization where they were not a known entity and did not have advocates to support them.  Those same people have told me that they envy those who have the opportunity to figure themselves out and create new career paths for themselves at midlife because their needs have changed along with their ideals about their jobs and careers.  The grass is always greener on the other side.

Life is complicated and very scary at times because it feels like so much rides on every decision we make.  We can definitely get caught up in the notion that every decision is make-or-break and there is no room for a do-over.  It is a very overwhelming feeling because what if we make the wrong choice but don’t realize it until it is too late?  In truth, we are making little decisions all the time.  We typically only focus on the big ones that seem to have great impact.  Yesterday, I was talking with a friend about how we have to decide to continually recommit ourselves to the various parts of our life – our careers, our marriages, our friendships, our life goals.  It is so easy for us to take these things for granted, assuming they will run on auto-pilot simply because we made a decision at some point that this is what we wanted.  Because we are constantly morphing, it is critical that we check in with ourselves and with our relationships to ensure that we are tending to these and making sure they are still aligned with our ever-evolving selves.

Today, as I am wrapping up this blog post and getting ready to tackle the rest of the items on my list, I am deciding to both believe in my decision-making skills (most of the time, they are good and my friends often tell me to trust my gut) and be conscious about my commitments in all aspects of my life.  Life is moving really fast and I don’t want to find out that 20 years has gone by and I forgot to look up.

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