It’s never too late to be who you might have been” George Eliot
Recently I’ve been spending time exploring ways to access those securely smothered career dreams that we all have but rarely acknowledge, except when dawdling over a glass of wine on holiday. Then we feel relaxed enough to play the game of “what did you want to be when you grew up?” When we head back to our “real” lives we sensibly file away those dreams, dismissing them as childish, unrealistic and not at all suitable for a sensible adult with responsibilities.
I have good news for you. The truth is that you haven’t stopped growing yet. It’s true that you have worked hard to create your place in the world, a place that feels comfortable and recognisable. In fact so comfortable that you may think that it is a world that is impossible to leave. My friend – it isn’t.
How do I know? Because many people are catapaulted out of their safe worlds every single day – by illness, by redundancy, by marriage breakdown, by disabling accidents and by the death of loved ones. That’s when they learn that their safe world is just an illusion, that the rug can be pulled from under their feet at any time. I know because it happened to me; in 2005 my 20 year long marriage broke down and in 2007 I was diagnosed with breast cancer – I felt that I’d spent my whole life playing a game where I thought I knew the rules, only to see those rules smashed to the ground.
But, you know what? Like many many other people have discovered, having your life fragment into pieces gives you the opportunity to re-build it in a new way, to create a new life – and yes, a better one.
So my message to you is that you CAN change your life but you need to choose to do so. Don’t wait for a tragedy to force change upon you. Instead see it as a playful project, where you can let go of assumptions about yourself and explore those hidden aspects of your character.
If you don’t believe me, I’d like you to try this one tiny step. Think of a dream that you’ve had and never fulfilled – be it to play guitar, be an artist, write a book, sail a boat, live abroad or run your own business. Open your computer and search for a tiny step that you could commit to right now to playfully explore that dream. You could book on an evening class, start a blog, join a club, even just buy a book or subscribe to a magazine.
This weekend I spent two days making jewellery on a silversmithing course. It cost me less than £200 and two days of my time. But the reward has been immense as I’ve finally unwrapped one of my dreams, brought it into the sunlight, turned it over and allowed it to live and breathe. Will I now become a silversmith? I don’t know and it doesn’t matter – I’ve opened my mind to the possibility.
So dare to ignore that inner voice that tells you it’s unrealistic, invite your dreams out into the open, explore the real you and remember – you’re not a grown up yet.