Like the 400 meter hurdles, the eight years hurdles is not run on the straight track. You therefore cannot run it as if there are no turns ahead. Unfortunately the track is not nearly as well-defined either. In fact, one of the more difficult aspects of the eighty-year-hurdles is to anticipate the turns.
Some turns are self-evident. Think about the main events in your life. Being born, going to school, choosing a career, marriage, having children, to name but a few. However, these are not the only turns. Take choosing a career. I, for example, started off wanting to be a computer programmer. So I studied computer science at University. Currently, I teach at University, something I would not have predicted when I left school.
There seemed a clear hurdles is that this track is not laid out neatly for you. In fact, what you will find is that there is multiple tracks that you could choose. Some will be more bumpy than others, some will be more enjoyable than others, but it’s hard to know this upfront when choosing the track. This situation, however, is not as bad as it sounds. We need to prepare ourselves properly for these choices. I suggest the following principles:
Be open to change. Expect change, so that when you realize it’s necessary it won’t come as a surprise. Recognize that change the present opportunities. It allows you to make new connections, to make a difference in different people’s lives, and it prevents procrastination on your part.
Be aware of your options. It is so easy to get into a rut, to get so busy with the things you do that you forget why you are doing what you’re doing. Get to know your strengths, get to know your weaknesses and figure out what you really enjoy. If you know that you are more likely to understand your options. That can help you looking out for that change in direction that will make a real difference.
Make your own game. This is your race, you need to decide how to run it. The beauty of it is, you can make your own rules. Of course, you are bound by general principles of law, ethics and finances, but if one really thinks about it there are very few bounding principles. We live in an age where innovation is treasured. We have seen people who seemingly ignore the rules change the way the world operates. Think Google and Facebook. Now I’m not for a moment suggesting that you should become the next Google or Facebook (unless you think that’s your game!), but I am suggesting that you figured out what you have to contribute and then contribute it. It may not even involve changing your workplace, it might merely be change how you do things and look at things.
Don’t expect a straight track in the eighty-year-hurdles!
How do you prepare yourself for the direction changes in the track you are running on?