This week there’s been a very distinct theme to the conversations around me. Journeys. Everyone has been talking about journeys. Some have talked of actual journeys being taken or being planned, but others, the ones that have really stayed with me, have been where people are talking about their personal journeys. I will never get bored of hearing about someone’s personal journey, their path to finding what they’re looking for – whether that’s love, or work or happiness or fulfilment.
I’m also in the middle of a wonderful new book – Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. In the book, I’ve just got to the part where she talks about the journey to true creativity, and it’s making me itchy with excitement and hope. (It’s also making me yearn to to go back and read Eat, Pray, Love in which she documented her own journey back from the wilderness – if you haven’t read either of them I highly recommend both). And of course, all this talk and reading got me thinking about my own journey to something I love.
My journey only truly started when I acknowledged that I wasn’t happy with my life the way it was. And it took some huge signs from the Universe (like two bouts of cancer within twelve months of each other) to get me to stop and really think about where I was going in life and whether that was a destination I had ever even aimed for.
It turns out I hadn’t aimed for it, and once I’d worked that out, I could set about trying to change course. Unlike those cheesy Hollywood movies, my journey wasn’t rags to riches, despair to delight or gloomy to glorious. It wasn’t easy or a linear path either. I’m quite impulsive by nature, and as soon as I realised I wasn’t happy in my career I jumped straight into another one. One that at the time felt perfect. When that still wasn’t quite right eighteen months later, I jumped again, into a completely different direction. Finally, when I’d run out of money and options I dejectedly shuffled back into the career I’d started in and wanted to escape from. It was worse this time, because I knew I didn’t want to be there. The problem was, I still didn’t know what I really wanted to do. And then, through a series of circumstances which at the time I raged against (including the contract from Hell that I had to endure for six months and was so awful I needed to share the experience it to purge it), I stumbled back into writing. And I knew I’d discovered my thing. Or to be more precise I’d rediscovered it after giving up on it the first time around.
Wonderful, right? Kind of. There’s a little bit more to it. When you find your perfect thing, the one that makes you feel like you’ve come home, please take a moment to accept that it won’t necessarily and magically fix things. It won’t make life suddenly perfect. But it will make the struggle worthwhile. That’s how it was (and sometimes still is) for me. I know what I want to do. In fact, I’m actually doing it. Sadly it hasn’t magically made my life instantly perfect. Instead, it has brought me joy, satisfaction and hope, and that’s pretty good, isn’t it?
Here’s what I’ve learned from my journey so far:
- Sometimes the biggest win is recognising you are ready to go on a journey,
- Sometimes it’s about embracing the search without worrying about the outcome and,
- Always it’s about knowing that it’s ok to start again and try something new.
Finally, there’s an aspect of the journey that I’ve struggled with myself, and I’ve also seen others struggle with. And that is acknowledging that your ‘perfect thing’ right now might not be (actually, accepting that it almost definitely won’t be) your perfect thing in ten years. My perfect thing was writing. It’s always been writing. However, that perfect thing had never been in the shape of a non-fiction personal development style book. But that’s exactly what my first book is – a non-fiction, personal development guide to coping with working life. I’d survived the contract from Hell and I needed to share my experiences of the Horroffice. And so Coping with the Horroffice was born. I’m working on my first fiction book right now, which feels perfect for me at this particular moment. I also know that whilst I will probably still be writing in the future, that may be a different version of perfect to the one I’m pursuing today. I might choose to write screenplays or song lyrics or poetry. I might even be studying for a Literature degree. Who knows? The point is, there is no end point and no certainty. My search will continue and so will yours. As it should.
That’s the final thing I want to share that I’ve learned. It’s ok for your perfect thing to change – and for you not to know what’s next.
So if all that’s true, could it also be true that the trick, the magic ingredient, the way to create big journeys full of big magic is to find happiness in each step?
“Big dreams create the magic that stir men’s souls to greatness” – Bill McCartney
Let’s go out there and look for our big dreams, enjoying some big journeys as we do it – what do you say?