As I attempt to help my Year 10 girl decide on her subject choices for next year, it’s scarily clear how easy it would be to point her in the wrong direction, or at least in a direction that may not lead to the level of satisfaction I wish for her. I worry that if I give her a bum steer, she may end up in the same position that a lot of the women I talk to are currently in.
Many of these women have admitted that what they wanted to do as they were growing up and what they actually ended up doing were two very different things. For example, some wanted to do something artistic, but were advised by well meaning parents to go where the money is. Some wanted to study in a certain field but didn’t get into their chosen course so pursued something, anything that they could get into. Still others started out well – they entered an area that was exactly where their passion lay – but were so good at it that they were quickly ‘promoted’ to a managerial position and ended up in a career trajectory that was at complete odds with their initial focus.
And then, once they were travelling along their merry way, they kept getting further and further away from their core talents and strengths until one day, they woke up and realised that they had no clue how the hell they got to be where they were and more importantly, how they were going to get out of it?
But no matter what stage of life you’re at when this realisation hits, it’s worth considering, is it the right thing to continue going in the wrong direction, or is now the time to pivot?
If you’re the primary breadwinner, supporting your family, then I’d suggest that making a radical change is probably out of the question right now, but if you’re single or at home raising your children, and you feel like you got side-tracked at some stage in your life, it could be the perfect time to regroup and plan to do something that will make you happy.
But how do you decide what to do? If you really are starting fresh, I think one of the best ways to pin point something that will have meaning for you is to rewind. Go back to the young you. What did you love to do as a child? Why did you love it? What did you always want to be ‘when you grew up’ but then got too sensible to do? What are you just a little bit embarrassed to tell people you want to do? If money was no object and you couldn’t fail, what’s the most exciting thing you can think of doing?
We are no different from the children that we might have to offer advice to one day. Just because we may have been railroaded or mis-guided on a course that we no longer feel connected to, doesn’t mean we are necessarily stuck in it forever. Even if it feels like everyone in your life thinks you should keep doing what you’ve always done, it’s not their bloody life to live, is it? Be your own best advisor by caring about your happiness as much as you would care for your child’s.
It’s not an easy process, and as in most things, balance is all, but know this: the happiest adults are those who have the closest alignment between what they feel they are meant to do and what they’re actually doing.