Tag Archives: goals

The question for 2013: Does it have to?

As 2013 approaches I find the question, “Does it have to?” popping into my head at a pretty steady frequency. The question doesn’t actually refer to the imminent arrival of a new year, but to each assumption I subconsciously make when thinking about my future. I notice that there are patterns to my expectations of what life will hold and that perhaps those patterns are limiting. The thing I love about the question is that I didn’t come up with it on purpose.  It organically popped into my head while watching a character on a favorite show struggle with what they believed to be an unavoidable outcome.  They stated “Now, this means…” and my immediate reaction was, “Does it have to?” Of course the answer to the question is no.  Our interpretation of life events, what different occurrences mean and where they take us is entirely up to each of us. 

For me the biggest assumption that I make every new year is that the year to come will in some way resemble the year that just passed.  I go into January expecting that I will continue in a job that makes me happy, live in my condo with my cats, hang out with some friends every now and then, and spend time with my family.  All of those things are awesome and bring me joy, but does 2013 have to look like 2012 to make me happy?  It would be easy to believe the fact that there’s nothing overtly wrong or challenging about my life situation means it should continue as is, but the question won’t stop badgering me. “Does it have to?”

In my work, does being good at what I do mean I have to continue to do what I do? In my relationships, does being content on my own mean I don’t pursue something new or that I couldn’t find some new level of happiness if I took a risk? In my home life, just because it’s good and easier to stay where I am, do I have to? Asking the question in regards to just those three areas opens up mind boggling possibilities to sincerely explore. I have been in a holding pattern with my career and relationships for a few years now.  It’s a pattern born from a strange cocktail of contentment and laziness.  The question “Does it have to?” pushes me to switch up my drink of choice. 

I find the question exciting.  For instance, continuing to teach while starting my Masters in Educational Technology could be overwhelming.  I could see it as something that will make my life harder and my schedule crazier, but does it have to? Don’t I have control over what I put into each area of my life? Can’t I choose to view each lesson as a joy filled experience of learning instead of a “to do” list to move me to the next stage? Another example: Does being ready to be in a relationship again mean I have to get set up, join an online dating site, or go out to more bars? Or can it mean that I intuitively listen to who I want to spend time chatting or talking with? Can it mean that I let go and just see who pops up in my life?

There’s a lot of freedom in the question, but there’s also an inherent responsibility that when denied could lead to a lack of decision-making or commitment to any one path.  Ultimately we do have to choose or we default into deciding by not deciding. Having been guilty of this quite often in the past, I feel aware enough of the consequences of indecision to avoid its recurrence in 2013.  As I make my way into the new year, I hope to examine my assumptions and self-limiting patterns in order find the meaning I am searching for in life. Good luck to you as you do the same.

Leaving the “Waiting Place”

I remember reading Oh the Places You’ll Go when I was seventeen, a graduation gift from a cherished first love complete with obligatory love letter of platitudes appropriate for the occasion. I skimmed it, quickly surmising  that said first love believed in me and I would definitely be going places in my life sooner rather than later. Looking back, I wish I had paid more attention to the twists in the road of life Dr. Seuss so aptly described. If I had, perhaps I wouldn’t have lingered as long as I did in the “waiting place”.

I think we’re fed a lot of bull as we grow up about what our lives should look like.  Some people wade through the manure easier than others.  An ailment from which I suffered that made it harder to get clarity was that of being a people pleaser.  I did a good job at faking independence and looking like I was making choices for myself but really, I went to work for the CHURCH after twelve years of Catholic school.  I was addicted to approval.

I guess I just thought that everything would fall into place and I’d be a teacher, get married, have kids and I don’t know what…that’s what all my friends were doing and I was sure that’s what everyone wanted me to do, too.  So I waited because, let’s face it – sometimes the waiting place isn’t that bad a place to hang.  I was never lonely. I was never bored.  But I was also never proactive when it came to really making my life what I wanted it to be.  I guess what I thought was “just happening” with my friends getting married and starting families was really them making choices in their lives.  And working and teaching religion was easy and fun, so I lived in the waiting place – stuck in a nice existence where I never made a choice because everything was good enough.

It wasn’t until I started writing a few years ago that I finally saw the path out of that waiting place.  It was illuminated by this creative urge that started blinking off and on.  At first it was more off than on.  Now it’s more on than off, but it’s still not as steady as I’d like.  I need it to shine bright enough that I can’t find my way back to the waiting place.  Writing woke me up and helped me say, “Wait, I never really knew if I wanted to get married or start a family and I never really wanted to teach religion my whole life.” So maybe I need to start choosing.

The actual choices I’ve made in the last few years have been full of risks I never would have taken in the waiting place.  Writing conferences, directing, performing, teaching marketing in addition to religion…they’ve all been steps away from that old molasses swamp.  I’m starting a Masters in Educational Technology in the spring and I’ve finished two books (although still haven’t made the choice to actively work towards publication).  I’ve worked on myself both inside and out.  I’m in a good place now and it’s one where I really can’t wait to see what MY future will hold. I’m leaving the waiting place behind.  Guess I should dig out that book and see what’s next!