Our culture is full of goal-oriented, high achieving individuals who are used to working hard and growing in a linear fashion, step-by-step making their way to the top. That sounds great, but in life we do not always progress linearly. We stumble, we fall, we make mistakes and take breaks. Our progress looks more like a jagged line, journeying gradually upward to our goal. And sometimes we take BIG dips, times when we hit a snag that spirals us downward. This does not mean we are failures. Every time we take a step we learn something about ourselves. We learn something that is going to help us in the future. It may be as simple as learning that we have stamina, or it may be as deep as confronting one of our weaknesses and learning how to overcome or compensate for it in the future. Whatever the reason, life was not meant to progress in a straight line.
I remember in my 20s my career was amazing, I was progressing upward….more responsibilities, more money and then I started having children. URCHHHHH! My line stopped. I was so enamored with my kids that I decided to take myself out of the workforce for a while. I started a whole new journey, not remotely connected to the path I had been on. Years later, I jumped back onto my career path. That wasn’t linear. It looked more like a derailed train track, but it was exactly what was supposed to happen in my life.
So, you overachievers….give yourself some mercy. When you make a choice that doesn’t turn out the way you expected, don’t let it derail you…..just change tracks. After all, it’s not about the “linear”, it’s about the progress. Just because we make a wrong turn doesn’t mean the train stops, it is still moving forward. We just need to find a way to get back on the track that was meant for us. It may take some guidance or directions, but we will get there. OR maybe we will end up somewhere else that is just at fulfilling and wonderful.
When you think of a journey, don’t you picture a long winding road with many forks? One that takes you here and there and allows you to see new things along the way? That’s how I picture it. What fun would life be if we traveled in straight lines? Sometimes we take paths that don’t lead us anywhere. Sometimes we take paths that take us to unexpected places. Sometimes we stay for a while; sometimes we backtrack and return to where we started; and sometimes we just keep going. A jagged path may be painful sometimes and even difficult to swallow, but we must learn to give ourselves grace. Stay on the train and keep progressing.
Here’s to embracing YOUR path!