What was the first thing you thought when you rolled out of bed on Monday morning?
“Yay it’s Monday, I’m so looking forward to everything I have planned today?”
or did you burrow your head back under the covers muttering,
“I have to go to work, throttle me now?”
For those of us on the traditional Monday to Friday routine, followed by Saturday to Sunday weekends, Monday has earned its place as the day we step away from ourselves, and into the whims and edicts of others, the day where we once more Let the Games Begin.
It’s a curious thing isn’t it, how we get to where we are; as Talking Heads sang,
and I ask myself, well, how did I get here?
A few years ago while researching financial literacy levels amongst the young, my team were curious about where students thought they were going, and how well they understood the financial and social impacts of their life and career decisions. One young man stood out.
“I’m going to work in a law firm,” he stated firmly. “I don’t really want to work in law but I’ll make lots of money there.”
“Why,” we probed, “are you pursuing that path?”
“Because I want to live the lifestyle I’ve grown up in. I’m the son of an Eastern Suburbs family, I’ve become accustomed to a certain way of living; it’s expected of me by my parents and I’m not willing to give it up. I’m prepared to work in a field which doesn’t particularly interest me in order to maintain my sense of self.”
He had created an identity for himself around his upbringing, his sense of self was built on the affluence of his surroundings and the material trappings of the success he perceived in his family. His version of success at the tender age of twenty-one was based simply on how much he could earn and how well he would continue to fit in to his social circle as an adult. Retaining the Status Quo was of critical importance to him to the extent he would sacrifice an enjoyable career for the money.
The concept of success is deeply personal but it changes for all of us as we mature and shift our patterns of thinking. Ask yourself this,
is your concept of success the same now as it was when you were eighteen? How has it changed?
It is inexorably true that during our climb up the success ladder we establish patterns of thinking, of self justifying behaviours, creating a certain view of ourselves. Our careers often become who we are, our identities, our anchors.
Then in the passing of a cloud, we are partnered, children sometimes come along and we become, like the law student’s family, entrenched in a pattern of living. The lifestyle in turn becomes a part of our identities and like rats in a maze we are stuck in our own realities of the world and riven with a restlessness of self without quite knowing what lies at the root of our discomfort.
The prospect of change can be too hard to face down, the looming disruption to self and identity attached to change too terrifying to contemplate with any real purpose, and the stuck feeling begins. Mental wellness can suffer immensely.
A small part of the answer lies in our early adult formative years, before we make decisions of internships, of career lockdowns. We must cultivate a wanderlust, a hunger for travel and access to the vastness of our imaginations and the possibility of other worlds, even if only temporarily.
Travel allows us to explore the world around us, to see, feel and live first hand in the way others live their lives, and bask in the glorious frisson of what could be possible.
Travel is like entering a virtual world, where through the expansion of awareness, our decision making in career and life to come can stem from a place of deeper understanding and insight.
The alternative is to simply take what lies right in front of us and find out too late we have missed our real selves.
There is too of course, a balance to be struck; a need to save, be financially prudent, and lay the foundations of security enabling our future choices. Many I know chose the prudent option of saving instead of travelling, and for them the joy of travel is for later life. Is this you?
It is never too late, the past need not have control over the future.
Are you living your heart’s choice? Did you travel when you were younger? How was it?
Thank you Dan Moore for your image of Mumbai boys. I might have chosen your life in a parallel universe, friends you can follow Dan’s beautiful life on Instagram @danandmoore