One of the things we’re least prepared for at this stage of the game is the idea that we may have to start over. I mean, think about it–weren’t we supposed to have reached the finish line (in a manner of speaking) once we became fully responsible for our actions under the law at age 18 (when we can handle deadly weaponry, but are still considered too immature to handle a beer or two), or 21 (where we are grown-up enough to drive our drunk buddies home in their cars, but are still too immature to handle a rental car) or 26 (where we are finally “grown-up” enough to pay for the privilege of being responsible with the keys to somebody else’s car). Wasn’t “being an adult” the pinnacle of age-related achievement that we needed to reach? Our decisions in high school and college were supposed to shape the entire rest of our lives (which was why we were all super-responsible in getting our tattoos, right?).
Now, twenty-five years later (give or take), there’s this novel idea going around that all those important life decisions made by Young and Stupid You…don’t have to be the last life decisions you’ll ever make. This is especially true if you banked a career on something involving non-digital media.
I will be honest–a lot of us fight it. We made our decisions and set our feet on a path where we expected no sidelines, no off-ramps, and no intersections. At least, not ones intentionally constructed by us. But what if we did? What if we expected that the journey we set out on at age 18, or 21, or 26 (I know, but our consulting firm had an entire person devoted to running interference for our employees who were technically still too young to rent cars, even though we were consulting folk on business decisions that changed an entire industry. I’m still a little miffed about it, okay?)–What if we expected that journey we started on at the beginning of our adulthood to have off-ramps? Twists and turns and intersections? And maybe an end point that came before our bodies began Assuming Room Temperature. What if we started a journey that we fully expected would culminate in a limited time, and planned for that?
Think about it. Think about standing at age 40 or 50, at that proverbial crossroads, having traveled that road you’ve been on with the knowledge that it had an end. Instead of putting up the blinders at the intersections and off-ramps, you could instead examine them–read the road signs and have some warning that the freeway was about to end, while also learning that another freeway was just at the next cloverleaf, and easily accessible, if you only merge left (I know, you usually merge right, but if you’re about to jump careers or start over, you have to plan for an unusual approach).
Are you approaching a crossroads? Isn’t it worth your time to read the traffic signs?