What Am I Doing With My Life?: Designing Your Life - CBC Podcast
I was listening to this episode of "Tapestry" on CBC Radio yesterday. This is relevant for all of us, at any age, but I found myself wishing that I had heard these thoughts from Bill Burnett twenty years ago. There is so much pressure to chart a path for ourselves at such a young age - and a pressure to stick to it. But I was surprised to learn of the statistics that show that a stunning majority of us do not stick to that plan. When I chose to chart a new path for my own life by leaving the career I had gone to University to have, it was (and can still be) really hard. It turns out I am most certainly not alone.
I hear my young friends talk about the stress of University or trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives. And I hear their panic when things don't work out as planned. Why is it important to stick to this one idea - this one plan? What if we change and grow? What if our interests change and grow? And truly... shouldn't they?
"I don't see why you'd want to let your 18 year old self, who picked a major, dictate what your 55 year old self is now doing. Because the likelihood of that being the right choice is pretty low." - Bill Burnett
Years ago, I had a friend relay a story to me: she came across something on the internet that, upon initial sighting, caused her to think was me. She thought she had come across a new venture of mine - something completely out of left field. She called out to her husband across the house, announcing my latest undertaking. As it turned out, it wasn't me but she relayed the story to tell me that nothing would really surprise her in regards to my life's adventures. She didn't question her initial thoughts because she knew me to be continually taking on new things. And you know... that story still makes me smile.
The funniest thing to me is that I don't see my life path being scattered or random. I can see how one decision leads to another, which leads to another. Sure, I could have kept on the straight and narrow - something much more predictable - but I have allowed whispers from uncharted wilderness to lead me off that straight and narrow many times. I can see the imagery very clearly... Have you ever gone hiking? There's often a trail that will lead you to a destination and it's fairly well marked. But then there's these other little trails that branch off, created by curious people or animals who know of somewhere else. In my life, I keep wandering off the well marked trail (the one that I had marked out for myself when I was still a teenager) to explore what else is out there. And often, I surprise people because it seems to come out of nowhere. But I know. The wandering is intentional and purposeful. I keep allowing myself to change and grow and that's rather liberating.
"Can you help me solve the problem of, what do I want to be when I grow up?... Maybe that's not the right question. Maybe the question is, what do I want to be next?" - Bill Burnett