I often wonder what drives our life decisions. Are we making decisions that are logical, reasonable and based on our own goals that we have set for ourselves? Or are we somehow trying to live up to someone else’s expectations, wishes or hopes for us? Or living up to some idealistic picture of who we think we should be?
Let me explain – I often think about two particular instances in my past that remind me of this question.
The first was that of a manager of mine who was very driven and was seemingly never satisfied with where her career had taken her to. One day, she apparently had an epiphany that all of her working life she had been seeking to impress her mother, who, it appears, was never impressed. Each time she gained a promotion her mother would simply ask “What now?” – implying that her current achievements were just a stepping stone to something much bigger and better. She also realised that her mother’s ambitions for her were not her own, and that was why she had been quite unhappy at work. That knowledge and self-discovery then freed her to think about what she really wanted. She then started working towards her own goals – which made her much more light-hearted and positive.
The second incident was when someone I knew said to me “I hate my job. But I’m stuck because I have a big mortgage. I live on my own in a huge house and could never get another job that pays as well… The weekends aren’t long enough for me to relax and ‘get away’ from work, so I’m only happy when I’m on holiday.” I told her that I didn’t think that was a fair deal and when she looked puzzled, I explained that at present, from what she told me, she appeared to be willing to be unhappy for about 46 weeks of the year, so that she could own her big house. That, to me, didn’t seem like a fair exchange. That conversation challenged her to think about and assess why she was doing what she was doing, rather than feel trapped and stressed.
With both of these instances, of course other factors were in play. Nevertheless, the question still remains – are we driving our decisions or is someone or something else? We don’t often take time to sit down to think about what we really value, what we think is important and what we want out of life. As I’m getting older, I am doing that more and more. What about you? What excites you, where are your passions? What are you doing that is in line with what’s important to you? Is your answer “Nothing” or “Not enough”? If yes, perhaps you owe it to yourself to take a step back and think about what’s important to you. Then you can decide what you’re going to do to express who you truly are. What first step might you take?
Yvonne Coolbear, Licensed Springboard, Fresh Steps and Boost Trainer
Views expressed by the writer are not necessarily the views of the Springboard Consultancy Ltd