I suppose it all started with my dad and his diagnosis of terminal brain cancer back in 2010. This traumatic event helped me view my life through a completely different lens. Perhaps a more reflective view of the world enabled me to take a step back and see a number of myths and illusions that my parents had instilled upon me during my childhood.
Lets face it, we’ve been indoctrinated by our parents from day one and in most cases with the values passed down to them by their parents a generation before. Times were much different then, yet we ended up carrying this burden into our lives …generations passed their “use by” date. 🙂
I was totally convinced that my dad was going to live to 100, no question. After all he was still working as a full time laborer at 78 and was fit and robust. During his entire life I could count the number of days he was sick on one hand…then out of the blue he collapsed. After rushing him to hospital by ambulance they couldn’t determine the cause so they decided to perform a CATscan.
Who knows how long he’d been unwell, if at all but the thing I took away from this experience was “you’re healthy until the day you’re not”.
I remember growing up and amazed at how strong he was, and in total awe of the size of his arms and his powerfully built body, even though he was relatively short (5’6″) he was muscular and tough or as they’d say in Australia “built like a brick shithouse”…sorry not very PG. 🙂
So to see him go from healthy one day to a terminally ill patient the next was mind blowing. There is such a fine line between being healthy and not, yet for the majority of us we just assume that everything will be okay because we eat right, minimize our stress, get lots of exercise and rest etc…
After all, he lived a relatively stress free life in a small country town, grew and ate all his own vegetables and fruit (actually not sure he ever brought any in his life), worked hard and so got a lot of physical exercise. Isn’t that what we’re all told – wait for retirement and then do all the things you couldn’t when you were working. What are we waiting for?
As this proves – there are no guarantees!
So what to do about it – I’m definitely not waiting for retirement to do all the things I want to do, places I want to explore and life I want to live. My objective is to live everyday to the fullest with no regrets!
The second big illusion that my parents instilled upon me from an early age was to find a “good steady job”. I realize they meant well, and even today this is an aspiration for many. My personal opinion is that there is no such thing as a “good steady job” – was there ever, is the question?
My personal experience is that corporations will always look after themselves first and foremost, which is, after all the capitalist way and should be no surprise to anyone, however, the fine line between being employed and not is a little like your health – “you employed until the day you’re not”. In this scenario its rarely your decision to leave unless you’re a rock star and recruited away.
Traditionally many thought that if you had a good steady job you’d be safe and immune to the economic fluctuations that impact the economy and workplace. Let’s be clear, just because you’re a full time employee doesn’t mean you’re safe from these economic changes.
Let’s think about it for a moment, if business is slow then nine times our of ten the company will lay a percentage of the workforce off which is clearly their prerogative. This is all well and good but did the volume of work for the company ever change or decreases with this decrease in resources around you? Nope, so the work just gets redistributed to all the remaining employees. This escalation of workload and expectations is a killer on morale and again leaves everyone feeling helpless, often overwhelmed and somewhat taken advantage of.
Burn out is a real and present danger in this situation…which then takes me back to my first point!
As many of you know I personally chose to take control of my own destiny…
Deciding to trust my instincts and build a company of one from the ground up is no easy task, but after 3 years I would say that I’m in a good place and have the most important thing of all – flexibility. When I’m freelancing I get to choose when I want to take time off, as I have no responsibilities beyond doing the best job I can when I’m working for my clients.
To me its a “win-win”, as my client aren’t obligated beyond paying me for the hours I work and I’m not obligated to undertake the litany of extras you find yourself doing as a full time employee.
Its all about building the life you want!
What are you waiting for…don’t wait for retirement to live your life. Live your life today – there are no guarantees! Second, take control of your own destiny and create the life you want – on your terms. Don’t wait for someone to create your dream job – go create it yourself.
After all I’m living proof that you can do this!
p.s. If you’re interested to learn more about how I reinvented myself, you can book a coaching session by selecting “Shop” on my website menu.