When thinking about a fitting topic for the first blog of a new year, the stereotypical title of ‘New Year, New You’ came to mind. Which is somewhat uninspiring. And also inaccurate. I don’t want to be a new version of me. I don’t want to recreate myself. I just want to be who I really am, and be ok with it.
Rather than reinvent myself, I want to uninvent myself.
There’s a fitting analogy I heard once about the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. How after years and years of dirt building up, the colours had been dulled and the details lost in definition. Once the ceiling was attended to, slowly and with care, it was cleaned of the layers of muck it had collected over time. Its true colours could be seen and it’s real magnificence that had once been lost, shone through.
ARE YOU CRAZY?!
At the turn of the new year, entering 2016, I was looking forward to my own uninvention (I say this lightly, but at the time it didn’t feel quite so liberating. It felt hard). Before I left for Costa Rica, I remember an ex-colleague telling me I was crazy. He thought I was crazy that I was leaving my good job, the great New York City and scampering off to Costa Rica for an undetermined amount of time.
And he was partly right. I was crazy. But I was crazy because, at the age of 33, I was still trying to fit myself into a mould that I didn’t really feel comfortable in. Even if it had served me well in a variety of other ways. I had been trying to do the things I thought I was ‘supposed’ to be doing, but those things weren’t really working out…
There will always be someone who thinks you’re crazy no matter what you choose to do, so you may as well get on with it anyway.
FREEDOM OF CHOICE
To live a fully authentic life which, I will assume, also involves building a fulfilling career, then we must recognise that we make the choices that lead to what we are capable of. And we get to choose to fulfil that. We have that freedom.
If you want to get existential about it (which I do) then this quote by Gerald Corey, a revered professor and psychotherapist, sums it up,
“There is no escape from freedom as we will always be held responsible”.
Existentialists would say that relinquishing our freedom is the ultimate of inauthenticity. By saying that there is nothing to be done about it, is giving up your freedom to make choices (though that in itself is a choice), and therefore giving up on who you really are, and who you can become.
With the freedom to make choices comes responsibility. That is, we are able to make considered and healthy responses to what life throws at us.
We have all set up psychological patterns as a way of coping with life. How we view the world, how we react or interpret events. By breaking patterns that we have subconsciously set up to deal with our pain, we can begin to make new decisions and create a new path that is aligned with what we individually value.
This new path is certainly not without pain. After all, that is part of life. But we can learn to deal with the pain and obstacles from a place of knowing and understanding, compassion and kindness, rather than a place of avoidance, destruction and mindlessness.
This may sound hard. And you’d be right. It means being brave. It means taking responsibility (the ability to respond to life, rather than passively react or ‘let it happen to us’), and it means being prepared to look at and take on the crap that will present itself to you. It means psychological liberation.
It also means living in tune with your values, living a fulfilling life, and simply, truly Living.
It’s not about reinvention. It’s about reclaiming and re-owning your life.
There’s a saying that if you don’t live your life, someone else will do it for you.
In each moment, we get to choose. That choice could be taking a new action towards something of value. Or it could be retaking an old action or even refusing to choose (which, again, is a choice) which leads towards the usual cycle and way of being.
For example, you made the choice to click on this article, you chose to read it, and you chose to stick with it to the point that you’re now reading these words. In every moment, you made a choice. You said yes or no to something. Perhaps you feel powerless in what you can do with your life, or perhaps you feel a little stuck in where you are going. Either way, your journey towards more freedom in what you do and more fulfilment in your career has already begun, just by making those small steps.
Never underestimate the potential of each action. Starting small is still starting.
IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO START
So many of us end up in jobs that don’t fulfil us. Yes, there will be places where the environment is uninspiring or you have a terrible boss. But often it is the essence of the job, what it stands for and what you contribute to it that just doesn’t feel right. Many, many people feel unaligned with what brings in the cash.
A recent study showed that workers in the UK will work an average of 4 extra hours a week. If you’re in a job that you don’t enjoy, that’s 9,024 hours of unpaid overtime during your working life. This does not sound fun.
According to the study, most people believed that by the age of 47 they were officially too old to change their career, even though, one in five working people were thinking about retraining. Since the average age to retire is forever creeping upwards, I am of the mind that I might not ever fully retire so I better make damn sure I enjoy (for the most part) what I am doing with my life! And most importantly, that I am doing it is as the person I want to be, the person I really am.
It is worth noting here that the company who led the study have people training in finance who are in their 70s. I will also add, that where I train for my Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling, there is a wonderful woman in her 70s also retraining. She’s a nun and and was once an orthopaedic surgeon. If that’s not a lifetime full of variety and authenticity, I don’t know what is!! She continues to follow what lights her up and stay true to what she values, regardless of what the ‘norm’ may say.
You see, it really is never too late to come back to who you are.
Are you ready to uninvent yourself?
Hello! I’m Gemma!
I’m a Career Transition Coach & I’m here to help you get unstuck, find clarity around career change and take brave, actionable steps towards fulfilment and purpose. Find out more.