A dear friend of mine and I were exchanging emails about some of the concepts on which I frequently blog. Peter Pan put his dreams in a drawer, and slowly they were pushed to the back of the drawer. Why? As Peter got older, risk and effort got in his way. Why? Age, maybe?
I like to blog about dreams and The Calling and taking risks with your career. I really desire those I work with to pursue and find what they truly seek, what will help get them to “resonance,” that vocation that will blur work and play. Yet, I find that friends my age (and I) sometimes (many times) look at those concepts as ones for youth. We look at our high school children who have so much to look forward to and have such opportunity to change the world. We talk with our college kids about their dreams and talents and how to pursue them. And we talk in platitudes about how easy it is to take risks “at this point in your lives.” Yet, we find it so difficult to heed our own advice.
During my career, I’ve had some great jobs—jobs I had to pull myself away from in the evening because I was having so much fun. I’ve made some tough decisions along the way to uproot my family and move, because the opportunity ahead was so compelling, the risk ahead so tempting, the carrot ahead so enticing. Nearly every move was following a career dream. Early the risks were small (the kids were small, the mortgage was small, the reputation was infant). Over time the risks have gotten bigger, and the effort required larger. And I’ve gotten older. I’ve passed on a few things that would have afforded tremendous growth. I’ve had a couple of opportunities in my career that I explored in which the risk seemed too large, or the effort too great, so I passed on them. Maybe it was the right decision. But I’ve also regretted it.
Regret is such an avoidable emotion. Songfacts shows 69 songs about regret, so I’m not alone in this one. But as Sally would say: “Get over it.” Fortunately, my career pursuits have always been with a 50/50 joint venture partner (my wife Sally), who has supported each and every move, and led the charge with the kids, and kept me in check along the way (mostly!). When I hit low points (work is overwhelming, or boring, or I’m not “feeling the love,” she whacks me across the head with a reality check. Sometimes it’s been: suck it up. And many times, it’s been: let’s go. I think if you’re not as fortunate as me to have that force in your life, you still need some folks to travel the journey with you (see previous post: Always A Bridesmaid.
Given modern technology and a little luck, I, at just about 50 years old, probably have another 25 years of work to go. That’s just about the same amount of time I’ve been working, so my career is at its midpoint. I’ve got so much to look forward to. The risks are going down (kids are older, mortgage is smaller, reputation still has upside). The adventures are more exciting. At this point it’s all about effort.
And that’s my point (even though it took six paragraphs to get here), my friend. It’s not about regret. It’s all about effort. Let’s talk more.