You’re in your living room, sprawled out on your couch, trying to remember who you were at eighteen, twenty-five, thirty-six, and wondering why you’re so different today. What happened to all your dreams, your plans for the future? How did your life slip away without you even realizing it?
When we try to revisit those years, are our memories of events accurate? Do we see them as they were or as we wished they were? Do we make excuses for our decisions, try to rationalize them away, or live with regrets for what we gave up to get where we are?
What would have happened if we had traveled around the world for a few years before getting married or before embarking on a career? Would the earth have spun on its axis if we had postponed making those adult decisions until we had lived a little, learned more about life, learned more about ourselves?
Where are the friends we used to have, the ones we gave up because we rationalized that we were moving on, growing up? Did we really know ourselves well enough to make the kinds of decisions that would affect our whole life before we knew, with absolute certainty, the kind of life we were signing up for?
So many people move through life on automatic pilot, not being happy with their lives but being too lazy or too scared to make the necessary changes.
How did you get into this career? If it no longer suits you or you don’t look forward to going to work every day, maybe it’s time to change the kind of work you do. If you’re in a marriage and you’re feeling trapped with children and a humongous mortgage, maybe it’s time to have that conversation with your spouse and see if he or she is feeling just as trapped as you do.
It’s never too late to change your career or make different living and financial arrangements with your spouse. If you have the money, it’s never too late to do the traveling you envisioned doing when you were eighteen, twenty-five, or thirty-six.
But, most of all, it’s getting to know yourself as you are now. Are your dreams still lying dormant in your heart and mind or have you changed your dreams?
It’s no great shame to change your dreams as long as you’re not fooling yourself or making excuses for yourself for not having pursued your original dreams, all of which makes me wonder why you let your life slip away, why you never noticed it before, and what you’re going to do about reclaiming the life you lost.