How Random Moments Change the What If Game

We all play the “what if” game. What if we had gone to a different school. What if we had taken that job or turned down another. What if we had turned left instead of right.

I believe that it’s human nature to imagine life differently than what it is. To speculate how our life would be had we taken another path. Imagination is a good thing. It can spur change, make us reach for something we might not otherwise have tried.

But let’s be clear. I’m not talking about regrets. Regrets can be crippling. I’m talking about times where there was a fork in the road, and we chose right instead of left. But we go back and wonder what would’ve happened if we had chosen to go left.

I know I daydream alternatives. Wonder what would’ve happened had I made another decision. Honestly, I don’t see any harm to imagining a different life because it can lead us to make better, or at least different, decisions in the future. For example, daydreaming alternatives led me to a career change that has been an incredible journey.

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But sometimes life gives you a moment. Just a small, random moment that makes you stop and appreciate your current path. Because any arbitrary turns along the way, any diverging would have put you on another trajectory. And no matter how slight the change in trajectory, that one small random moment probably wouldn’t happen.

This week I had one of those small, random moments. A random encounter that led to an impromptu discussion, which led to a last minute happy hour invite. And by saying yes to the invite, I allowed this random moment to become something more than just a brief moment in time.

So my hope is that you too have that small, random moment. And recognize it for the gift it is. Reminding you that just maybe your current path is pretty darn good.

 

How I Ended Up Here (Or Finding My Path), Part 3

So I’ve been writing (slowly) about my journey from confused M.B.A. grad to corporate worker who was in a rut looking at thirty.  Then I left you hanging. For like a month. Or more.

Then this week, the Facebook timeline reminded me that it was 10 years ago this month that I changed the path I was on. And when I saw that, I sat back in my chair. Wow. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since I started down a new path. And so of course, that spurred me to finish this story. Continue reading

How I Ended Up Here (or Starting Down One Path), Part 2

Last week I told part 1 of my journey. What I didn’t write was that I had already started down a path. A path I would eventually diverge from, which would lead me to where I am now. But at this point in the story, I am in my mid-twenties. I just finished the M.B.A. program and began walking down a path that

But at this point in the story, I am in my mid-twenties. I just finished the M.B.A. program and had already begun walking down a path that would take me to corporate America. Continue reading

How I Ended Up Here (or Sometimes the Journey Isn’t a Straight Line), Part 1

Life is a journey, not a destination. It’s a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason—because it’s true. For some of us, the journey just happens to take more turns, with occasional switchbacks, u-turns, or backtracking after reaching a dead-ends. My journey has sometimes gone in a spiral, or at least seems to.

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Sometimes the journey isn’t a straight line. Sometimes it doesn’t even make sense.

Then again, maybe I’m taking the journey metaphor a bit too far.

Anyway, now that I am firmly in my mid-life (whether or not I like or admit it), I am constantly amazed how time has flown by because it seems just yesterday I was getting ready to graduate college. Really, weren’t we *just* getting ready for the millennium? But as I reflect over the past couple decades, I thought I might share with you how I ended up where I am.

Unlike some, my journey is not a tragic one. My tale is not filled with terrible sorrow or great misfortune. It is filled with options, choices, and changes. But I’m not going to spoil the end of the story by telling you where “here” is. At least not yet. To tell any tale, one must begin at the beginning. Continue reading