A crisis has a way of sorting out what matters in your life. For me, that crisis was in 1999, when my father died. I was in my early 40’s, helping to build the monster business that HGTV would later become, and in an instant, my whole life changed. It was then that I began the work of re-imagining my life.
The pandemic is the crisis that can become the opportunity. Most friends I know, even those with high-powered jobs, have newfound time. If you don’t rush to fill it, but are willing to sit still, and ask some new questions of yourself, this crisis could become a time of discovery for you.
What have I really been busy with that’s filled my time?
What are the many roles I play in my life? Roles are always about serving others, which can neglect your own way forward.
Who is this person I am, -my strengths and limits- and knowing those, who do I want to become?
What do I need to unlearn during this time?
Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries and author of Tattoos On The Heart writes: “Versions of your old self have to die in order for a new, brilliant one to emerge.”
Here’s a story. I met a young man, just out of college, who wanted to one day become a CEO and run a company. He chose a job in business, a good job, and was there for a while and recruited to a new company, with a bigger job, a multi-million dollar budget and staff. He saw that this would be the trajectory to the goal he’d always held dear, to become a CEO. And he hated it.
He hated the frenetic pace, the distrust the place bred, and the second-guessing of himself. In this process, he came to understand that the CEO goal was an outdated childhood dream, which now felt fraudulent. He quit that job, and today he’s in a very different career. Less money, but he’d tell you it’s a lot more satisfying. He made all of these choices before he was 30 years old.
Whatever our age, it’s never too late to just sit in the quiet, and ask questions of your life. Be patient with this process. I never wanted to ask stupid life questions; I thought adulthood was a marathon and my purpose was to simply run it. Until my dad died. Suddenly, I was very winded from the run.
We can be many things that we’re passionate about, and play many roles, as long as we get the core right. Another word for this ‘core’ is vocation, a word rooted in the Latin for voice, or ‘calling’. The whole of your life can be a calling, if you slow down, use this time well, and listen for it.
What you hear in the quiet might be your life re-imagined.