I love to hear about people who discover their place in the world. I’m realizing when I read stories about those revelations that often the search takes on a significant role in the discovery.
A few years ago I was talking with someone close to me. He was lamenting the fact that he had spent what he saw as his “best five years” working for a guy who used him up and spit him out.
Without thinking I said, “Those weren’t your best five years. Your best five years are your next five years.” I’ve tried to remember that insightful moment since then.
Way too often we waste time thinking about what might have been. We wish we had done something different. Or we wish someone else had done something different.
The way it is is the way it is. We can’t change what happened or how we got here.
We can change how we approach the current situation, and that would make things better in the future. It will certainly make things better now.
Have you ever given any serious thought to how you ended up in the job you have?
I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately. I was talking with a friend about it the other day and he was telling me about the path that led him to his current position. I didn’t tell him this for fear of offending him, but his description unnerved me quite a bit.
It seemed he ended up where he was because of a series of unrelated events that had little to do with his strengths, talents, gifts or desires. What made it worse was his apparent reluctance to consider any alternatives at any point along the way or even now.
I was just about to question him about it, when I realize that until recently my life was much the same. I thought that I was where I was and there wasn’t much I could do about it.
Fortunately, I’ve come to realize that I am where I am because of my past choices, and I can change direction by making different choices.
It’s not easy, but it can be done. Think about it. If you want something different, change direction. Decide and do it.
A few weeks ago, I bought a box of Louis L’Amour western novels. He’s one of my favorite authors, and I was happy to find several of his books that I had not yet read. In the box were several books by other authors.
As I was looking through them, I noticed one from a series of books called, “Choose Your Own Adventure.” I had never heard of the series, so I took a closer look.
The cover said there were multiple endings to a story that put the reader in the old west. I showed it to my son, who took an interest when I started reading him sections and asking him which choices to make. We had a good time as he talked about each decision as we progressed through the book. When we finished, we started over making different choices as we went.
Today, my wife and kids went to the library. My son excitedly showed me that he had found three more “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. One book about space has 44 possible endings. In another, the reader is on “the planet of curiosity. It has 15 exciting endings. A deep sea adventure has 42 possible endings.
My son has already read two of them. He told me about some of the choices he had to make along the way.
Sensing one of those elusive “teachable moments,” I said something like, “You know, it’s the same way in life. We make choices that determine our future.”
As I thought about my life, I see I’ve made good and bad choices. I can’t do anything about the decisions I’ve made in the past, but I can focus on choosing the best path forward from here.
In his book, “Think and Grow Rich,” Napoleon Hill devotes an entire chapter to decision. He says successful people make decisions quickly and are slow to change from that course. In effect, those who decide succeed. Those who don’t decide fail. Those who know what they want, get it.
Forget the mistakes you’ve made in the past, but remember the lessons you learned. Decide what you want and go after it with a burning desire. Persist until you get it.
This free e-book taught me how to make better decisions.