I used to be a good little boy. I followed the plan for life. I studied relatively hard and got good qualifications. I battled with the good and the great to get the best jobs that were offered to graduates and I won a cracking placement.
So far the plan for life was rolling out beautifully and I was all set to be a winner.
I then played some pretty cool hands at the card table of career and got myself running one of the biggest and best brands in the country, Carling Black Label. We had huge budgets, huge profits and won brand of the year. I was on a roll and should have been absolutely delighted.
The problem was that I wasn’t.
I had this nagging doubt deep inside of me that this was not my life.
Much as I enjoyed the fun of marketing, making ads and the cut and thrust of business; there was something missing.
Logically, I was tortured. I did everything I was supposed to do. I was successful. My future was looking incredibly shiny. When I spoke to my friends and family about the itch that I was feeling, they thought I was mad.
I got nice cars, a generous package, as much beer as I could carry to any social gathering, lunches in great restaurants, the best agencies in the land working on my account; so why wasn’t I happy?
I almost felt ungrateful to even doubt that this wasn’t the career for me.
Unfortunately, my master plan for life was unraveling and I had no idea as to why. I decided it was just a phase. Everything on paper looked peachy keen and therefore I just needed to ride it out.
I put my head down and ploughed on and yet the itch inside me continued to develop. I was shaken, unsettled and totally confused. Rationale and logic was not serving me and yet it had been my trusted friends forever. I was properly lost.
After months of feeling like I was losing the plot, I finally listened.
One night after work I sat quietly and instead of ignoring the itch and squashing it with distractions, I let the feeling wash over me and asked the itch exactly what it was saying. At first I wasn’t sure what to listen to let alone what the message was. Then, out of nowhere it all fell into place. A sense of knowing crystallised within me. I went from confusion to clarity.
It was obvious that I had to create space to find out what my next chapter would be. I needed to resign, get on a plane and go for an adventure with enough time to try on some new potential futures.
It was fine not to have the answer; in fact, the beauty of being clear that my next step was just about creating space and experiences was palpable. It felt so right.
That was one of the pivotal moments in my life where everything changed for the better.
Not listening to my inner voice was incredibly destabilising. It felt as if there was a pressure growing inside of me that eventually had to burst. As soon as I listened, the pressure subsided and I got back into a state of flow.
All too often we get trapped by thinking we should know the answer and that we should do what society expects of us. Many people are miserable as a result.
Living a life that doesn’t quite fit is a lot like wearing the wrong size shoes.
I have learnt to listen much more frequently and every time I do, I am grateful. I don’t always have the answers but sometimes just being clear that I have a question is enough.
If you listen deeply to yourself, you may find that everything clicks into place and becomes so much easier.
Life is not linear. And yes, life is short but it’s also long and complicated.
Give yourself a break and tune in to that voice and who knows what you may hear?
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