What happens when life doesn’t turn out as you planned?

Life doesn't always work out as planned

Life.  A flow of events that is unpredictable and challenging. You set your goals and head off on the journey with a destination firmly in mind.

Knowing where you’re going and working towards it provides the greatest opportunity for success. Not all goals can be achieved regardless of a positive mindset and a resolve to never give up. At each step of the journey you’re faced with challenges that require you to reassess and recalibrate your expectations.

The bigger the goal the harder it is to achieve. Becoming an Olympic athlete, writing a best seller, taking your band to number one or making a million dollars a year are all brilliant goals. Yes it can be done but, realistically, not by everyone.  We often talk about setting goals BIG and chasing them with vigour. Shoot for the stars, make progress, take action and enjoy the journey.

 All great advice but what happens if we just can’t make it?

This post is about the search for your life’s purpose. Not just your job, a career or a set of standards that you‘re expected to live up to. It’s about following a path that gives you a sense of meaning.

Finding purpose

The feeling that life hasn’t turned out how you want can lead to a feeling of emptiness.  Unrealised potential can be crushing to the spirit. Changing this situation is not a flash of inspiration, divine intervention or getting excited at a motivational seminar. It’s a long haul of trial and error, change and effort and the arduous task of finding yourself.

Many people don’t think beyond the immediate need for money, having a bearable job, paying the bills and having time for family and friends. Technology blurs the lines between work and home with email, PDAs and a global economy that demands attention 24/7. The result is frustration and a feeling of going nowhere.

Time’s not on our side and even in our 30s and 40s we find ourselves wondering what we are going to do when we grow up. ‘I don’t know what I’m supposed to do in this life; I just know that this isn’t it’.

Society dictates that you should always be moving forward. Start at school and ‘pass’ to progress to the next level. Go to university and progress until you have a degree, ideally with honours. Take a job and work hard. Progress up the rungs.

If you stall, move on and start climbing again. How high can you go? Have you ‘progressed’ to marriage and children? Have you bought a home and are paying it off? Are you playing sport, are you winning, will you play in the finals? Are you on society’s accepted and expected time line? Where are you now?

Are you on the ‘up’ escalator moving forward in life or not moving anywhere, especially not up. Are you stuck in a rut with the escape hatch firmly welded shut? Are you languishing in mediocrity far beneath your personal expectations?  Where to from here?

 Even those at the top can feel it. Working hard for more than 20 years to finally stand on the peak and feeling totally underwhelmed at what they see. Appearing wealthy and successful, they should be happy but they’re not. All they have achieved still doesn’t provide the satisfaction they desire.

Our own disillusionment is amplified by the outside world. Subject to the expectations of what and who we should be and conforming to another’s rules. Judging, watching and pushing for you to ‘stick to the rules of the game’. Get a good job, make money, work hard, have clear objectives and work to a plan.

Certainly not living a life of inspiration, creativity and fulfilment.

Do you allow yourself to be subjected to a life void of challenge and vitality? Wanting to be challenged and inspired but only called on to show up, put in the time and clock out. Forty plus years of this isn’t a recipe for self fulfilment and growth.  A hamster on a wheel, a soulless existence devoid of meaning, where the only free cheese is in the trap.

But wait, there’s more. Even in this soulless void there can be a glimmer of hope. Pay attention to your intuition. Become more sensitive to your calling, accept your past and don’t allow it to dictate the future, use your imagination and work towards an existence that makes your life worthwhile.

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