Margaret Young said it best: “Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they really want so they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must find who you really are, then, do what you need to do, in order to have what you want“
Why is this relevant to transitioning? Simply put, it should be the cornerstone of everything we do throughout our professional and private lives. There are things we can control; most we can’t. However, if we find out who we really are and what we are truly capable of, that will point our compass in the right direction, and show us what we must do no matter the circumstances. This way, the things we can’t control dwarf in significance compared to those we can.
This is a time of transition where old rules no longer apply and new ones have yet to take hold. The challenges we all now face may seem daunting and the temptation to say “these are the worst of times” is ever present. The truth is, every generation has faced challenges and trials. War, economic crisis and meltdowns, social upheavals, paradigm shifts, have, and will always be present. Only two generations ago, our forefathers paid a heavy price to make the world a safer place. By comparison we’ve had an easy ride.
I know what you’re thinking: ” So what? What does it matter how bad others had it, when my life and prospects are so bleak. It’s a fruitless exercise to compare misery”. That maybe so, however, where in fore-years others faced many exogenous obstacles, today our biggest obstacle is most likely to be ourselves. It is easy to find excuses and closed doors:
- Age: “I’m too old/too young”
- Money: “I have to hang on to what I’m doing even though I hate it because I need the financial security”
- Duration: “Transitioning to something I love will take too long.”
- Consent: No one is an island. You may find you need the support of a loved one to pursue what you want.
- Location: you may need to move to get where you really want to be.
And many other reasons: physical condition, education and training, timing, esteem, fear of failure, fear of success, and perhaps the worst of all fatalism, where we believe our destiny is fixed and we’ve been dealt a hand we can’t change, (i.e. this is as good as it gets). Personally I have faced all these closed doors. My advice? Don’t open them: knock them down! If you think too long about all the reasons why you can’t do it, you won’t! Quoting Seneca: ” It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.”
Above all, remember you are one of a kind. There is no one else exactly like you. No one else has dreams and aspirations identical to yours, stands where you stand now, or end up where you will end up. It doesn’t make sense to compare your success or progress to anyone else’s or to some external checklist and timetable to fit some nonexistent average life. You are unique. That, above all else, is your greatest asset!
Finally, forget about the destination and think of the journey. As the “philosopher” Mick Jagger puts it: ” You can’t always get what you want, but if you try, sometimes you just might find, you get what you need.”