I am back from my 10 day retreat of silence, no reading, no writing and no technology and I am all done crying that I am back to the mad rush of my life. I have had a few insights on time and the way we perceive it and have a million and one questions about careers and the “art of living” and I am kind of sad that I did not learn this in college or business school.
Sometimes it is okay not to know
There is nothing worse than taking out huge student loans and going to business school, working yourself to death and thinking you know what you want and on graduation day realizing you would rather be in a writer. That is what happened to me and I wish someone had saved me the anxiety and said it is okay that you did not know this about yourself but now you do and in another 5 years you will know more about yourself that you did not know today.
I feel as though since I have been in school and out of school people have always asked me and everyone I know: what do you want to be? Where do you see yourself in 50 years? I always felt compelled to give an answer so imagine my total shock and dismay when during my meditation I discover that I really have no clue what I want to be at 60. My best guess is I want to live in an ashram and write autobiographies but who knows if this will change or not.
It is okay not to know what you want to be in the long run or where you will be in 50 years, as long as you have an idea of what you want right now and for the short run. Things change, technology changes and that brings new career opportunities. If there is a career path that you are really interested in following, follow it, because there is no law that says this is what you have to be doing this for the rest of your life. You may grow to hate it but it may also lead to something interesting.
Approach life holistically
Yes, we are taught time management but what about how to live and just be? Taking time out for you is not just work life balance; it is about living and being aware of yourself as a physical being. We live in a world where we are told we should always be busy, we should have days that are packed full to the brim and if not we should dedicate time to friends and family. Can we really be better Managers and Leaders if we do know or understand ourselves? Why are we never taught HOW to develop a relationship with ourselves and remain present and aware.
One of the things we were required to do during meditation was to sit for an hour 3 times a day without moving anything or shifting positions. When I was told this I thought it would be impossible and it was at first because I was focusing on getting done with the whole experience. After the third sitting, I decided to really listen to what I was being told to do, which was focus on my body and I realized that I had never done this before. At the end of the course my roommate told me she was walking and suddenly realized she had feet.
It is not about the results, but about the process
A friend of mine (recent grad) once told me that people who come out of college and say they don’t know what they want are not paying attention. At the time I did not understand what she meant but now I think I do.
Another friend of mine also told me its about the attitude you have when everything is going downhill (also process).
We are taught to focus on results and outcome, more than we are taught to focus on the process and to see what lessons we are taking away. In that moment I realized that my journey as an entrepreneur had not yielded the concrete results I wanted, but had given me so many more skills and opportunities that I was not utilizing because I was so focused on the end result. I am starting to understand that the road to reaching our goals is not unilateral and the process is what holds the answer to the results.
Flickr image by: mdanys
Vangile is a Realtor and the founder of Speak 2B Free, a company that provides resources for poets and storytellers in the spoken word and poetry slam trades. Follow Van at: www.twitter.com/speak2bfree