Picture yourself going out on a journey. In the relative safety of your home, you look into the future and visualize what you’ll need to pack. After all, forget to pack it now and you’ll either have to do without or pick it up along the road and there’s a cost associated with doing so. If it’s a short journey; a weekend getaway; forgetting something and not being able to replace it might be inconvenient but hardly a disaster. In two days time, you’re back home and you can better equip yourself next time you’re out the door for a weekend.
The thing about a weekend away though is you know where you’re going and you therefore have a pretty good idea what to pack and take along. When the weekend comes to an end, you can assess your success or lack thereof in terms of planning and either repeat your success or make some additions and deletions; things you needed but forgot and things you packed and didn’t use.
Life however is a one-time trip. You never know the final destination and if we’re totally honest here, you don’t even have a map showing you the route you’ll take. How on earth do you prepare yourself for that kind of trip? (Incidentally, these are my favourite holiday trips; heading in a general direction, hitting the open road with a general idea of where I want to go but no planned itinerary; no having to be in a certain town on a certain day; heading down some sideroad because it looks interesting and there’s an unspoken promise of an amazing something not to be missed.)
Now the one thing that excites and invigorates one person will confuse and cause anxiety in another. Some people need to know exactly where they’re going; who they will travel with, where they’ll stay. These folks like to pay in advance where all is known and just not yet experienced. If this is you, excellent and enjoy your trip. Life for some is like this too. Careers are mapped out, school is a given and paid for, weddings are arranged, investments made in stocks and properties, funerals prepaid. It’s all so nice, neat, ordered and arranged.
Ah but for the rest of us life is nothing but flux. Change is constant, plans are made with good intentions but often chucked or amended as life brings us into contact with other people, other places, new information comes our way and stimulates us in new directions. Change for us is good! We do things we never imagined we would, we fall in and out of love with people we never imagined ourselves with, then never imagine ourselves without. We lose jobs, move to new places, get confused at times, live the highs and lows. At times we know what we want and then at others we haven’t got a clue. We’re hopeless one minute, on the right path the next, go years seemingly drifting and then bazinga!, we’re suddenly successful!
How on earth do you plan for a journey like this life you’re living? It’s easy actually. You pack as best you can with the information you have and you tell yourself right at the start that you’ll be needing to pick up more supplies as you go along. When the weather turns, you drop the shorts and t-shirts and pick up some sweaters and thicker socks. You adapt my friend. Although you knew this time would come, you were smart enough to know there was no need to pack the long underwear and mittens way back when the weather was hot, muggy and the streets were steaming.
Life is the same way. When you start out thinking of a job you don’t know where you’ll end up. You’ll get exposed to different jobs, meet people doing work you don’t even know at this moment exists. There’s no way you could prepare yourself now for those jobs you want in 10 – 15 years because they haven’t even entered your conscious thought or perhaps they haven’t even been created yet.
Some general direction is great but a detailed master plan with all the career changes and jobs timed and mapped out? Highly improbable and unrealistic. This might cause you some minor or major anxiety if you’re the type who must know everything in advance.
Life is organic and if you’re to fully thrive in it, embracing all the changes, influences, suggestions, advice and yes – warnings is required. There will be good and bad, highs and low points. You’ll meet good people and some bad unfortunately; those who will help you and those who will hold you back. Be wary but don’t cocoon yourself from the world or they win. Get out in it; breathe deep.
Your age? Inconsequential. You’re still living aren’t you? Your finances? Not everything expensive is worth having. At some point in your future, you’ll come to the Point Of Reflection. You know, that time when you stop, pause, slowly turn and look back from some vantage point on the path you’ve taken. You’ll forget many of the things you thought you never would, you’ll remember many faces you met and feel satisfaction over much of what you’ve done. Regrets? Sure. You’ll have some. Big deal.
Get going. That’s the sum of it in two words. Job? Career? Relationship? Travel? No matter what you want, get going.