Have you ever had any big plans for yourself or your life? Most of us do, at least at some point in our lives. And they often change throughout our lives for one reason or another. They may change because our interests or tastes change or because we feel we can’t afford whatever it might take to realize those big plans. Or perhaps we just got afraid when it came time to take the big step. Maybe we listened to someone’s advice and took another path. Regardless, for many of us releasing the big plans we had for ourselves is a very real struggle.
Personally, I always wanted to be an archeologist. All the way back in 7th and 8th grade I can recall researching archaeology as a career. No, I wasn’t enamored with Indiana Jones (though I did enjoy those movies), but I was however quite smitten with the deep rich history of our world, and the idea of being able to discover things from ancient cultures fascinated me. But somewhere along the way someone (to be honest it was probably more than one someone) in my life convinced me that wasn’t a good choice for a career. I remember being told I would never be able to afford the schools where I’d have to go to get that degree. I remember being told it was a lot of years of school and I probably would give up on it before I finished it either because of the amount of schooling or the cost of it all. I remember being told it is a job that doesn’t pay a lot of money so I neded to rethink it. And I remember being told it was not a secure job to have so therefore it was not a good choice.
The message was clear to me from a young age – my big plans were flawed and I needed to abandon them and figure out something safer, cheaper, and closer to home. As I said, I was young and I trusted the adults in my life to give me good, sound advice. In reality they could only give me the best advice they personally had to offer. There was no guarantee it was going to be good advice for me but it is all they had to offer (not finding fault here, just recognizing that everyone operates from where they are and can only give from what they have and what they know.). And looking back I would say it was not good advice for me, but I took it because at the time it seemed like the smart and logical thing to do. So I gave up that dream for something I was told would be a better, more secure option – teaching. And I was a teacher for 10 years before I finally left that profession because, while it is a very worthwhile profession and can be quite fulfilling, it was not what my heart and soul wanted to be doing.
I could easily look back on that experience and have regets or be bitter or angry toward those who steered me away from my original career choice. Thinknig back on the big plans you never realized can tend to make you feel a whole host of emotions including regret, anger, and bitterness. And while regret, anger, and bitterness are a strong words, if we are being honest with ourselves we can understand how we or someone we know might find themselves feeling that way. But regardless of whether you feel regret, anger or bitterness OR you just find yourself wondering what if you had stuck to the path that would have led you to living out your big plans…how would things be different…we can get caught up in focusing on what could have been instead of what can still become. Whether we actively blame someone or something for the fact that we did not achieve our big plans or we just get stuck in an endless bout of what if questions, we are stuck and cannot move on to whatever iscould be next in our lives.
On that I offer two thoughts for you to ponder…
- Do it now – so if your big plans really are still meaningful to you and are calling to you (regardless of whether it was your original big plans or some new big plan you recently developed), just do them now. There is no time like the present and it is never too late to start something new or change your course. There is always a way if you want something badly enough. So no matter if you are married, have kids, have a busy job, don’t let those things become excuses. Look for ways to incorporate those things into your plan and go for it. There is no time like the present. You are never too old and it is never too late.
- There’s a reason for everything – consider that maybe your big plans as you envisioned them just weren’t meant for you or weren’t right for you. Maybe the universe had another plan, a bigger and better plan. Or maybe it just wasn’t the right time for that plan to take root in your life. Maybe it is time to let go of the regret, of the what ifs, of the anger and frustration still surrounding you on a daily basis because you didn’t achieve your original big plans. Maybe it is time to let it all go and embrace new opportunities which could well turn out to be even better than what you had planned on. Take a chance on happiness…take a chance on yourself…consider what big thing could be next for you.
My second career, the one I am still actively in, was a choice made out of an opportunity that presented itself when I was looking to get out of teaching. It was a good and secure choice as well and has been fullfiling in its own right over the past 10 ½ years now. Is it what my heart and soul long for? No, not really. But to be honest, I am not sure archaeology is anymore either. And so I have begun to embark on a little bit of a personal journey to explore my core desires and feelings when it comes to a career. I have decided to let go of old thought patterns and expectations, making a promise to myself that I will do whatever I feel called to do regardless of what others or society as a whole says about it. I want to take that leap of faith, follow my heart and soul’s desire, and land in a career that fills me with purpose, meaning, and joy. It may not be the typical, expected, traditional, secure job, but it will finally be something that lights me up in a way that nothing else has ever done so before.
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” – C. S. Lewis