From Pirates in the Bahamas to Danish women in Italian Piazzas
One of my favourite Facebook memes is:
“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans”
We grow up and find that the world looks quite different when we’re 30, 40, 50 and beyond, than we thought it was going to look when we were young.
I thought I was going to be a modern day pirate like Long John Silver (a fantasy recently revived with the swashbuckling Netflix series “Blacksails”), but it turned out I got violently seasick on the oceans of the world. And besides my wife and I had our first child and children don’t go that well on pirate ships.
Then I thought I was going to be a journalist of world renown, but I didn’t have the patience to make it through the ranks.
I set my sights on a boatbuilding business on Sydney Harbour, but what I knew about running a business in those days could be written on the back of a beer coaster, and the business failed.
Next I started a building business in Sydney. I developed it and ran it for about 20 years. At times it did very well, at other times not so much, but in the end I had enough of the never ending struggle between contractors, homeowners and architects. I was very happy when a former employee of mine offered to buy the business.
More or less at the same time my personal life took a 180 degree turn and where I’d always thought I would grow old as one half of a happily married couple, I suddenly found myself single (by my own choice I hasten to add).
The rest of my life
I was 45, single, without home or business or any immediate responsibilities other than to work out what to do with the rest of my life.
And I had no idea. None.
I figured I needed to create a bit of space in which to work out what direction to head and I took myself off to Italy. The idea being, that if I were to sit myself down on a piazza in Italy for long enough, the universe might speak to me.
And it did.
I actually remember the precise moment that it did: I was having dinner with a bunch of friends in a little restaurant in Perugia in Umbria. I got talking to a Danish woman who was in Italy for a month long sabbatical and she told me about her life coach. My ears pricked up. I’d never heard of the term life coach and I was equally intrigued and sceptical. Long story short. I did some research and decided to do a foundation coach training course when I got back to Sydney. I loved it and in the next few years I enrolled in as many studies and trainings in coaching and related fields as I could.
Various coaching practices
I set about building Life coaching, Executive coaching, personal counselling practices and combinations of all of them. In the end I created the thing I do now, which is all about helping small business owners feel great about themselves and their business and about making business Fun (with a capital “F”).
I love what I do these days and by all accounts I am actually really good at it. Until quite recently, I saw myself growing old in the inner-city of Sydney together with my new spouse, doing what I do now, connected with the community and my kids, grandkids and extended family and friends. But another change is coming down the pike, heading straight for us. Life is going to take another 90 degree turn. I can’t tell you exactly which direction this 90 degree turn is going to take, but it seems quite clear that we’ll be leaving Sydney in the next year or so.
We’re upset and anxious about this prospect. It’s going to mean significant adjustment and changed circumstances, but really, the change is no greater than any of the changes I mentioned above, and those were just the tip of the iceberg.
There’s a good chance that the changes will turn out to be really positive in the long run and that we’ll look back and smile at the memories of our anxieties and dine out on the stories, just like I do now when thinking about the changes I mentioned before.
Life is indeed what happens when we’re making other plans. Planning is guessing. I’ve said it before when writing about goalsetting in business here, but it’s no different in life.
The one thing we can be sure of is change But us humans, it seems, are hardwired to resist change as much as we can. There’s a primal instinctive fear we feel in change, I believe.
But change is coming and In any case, I’m going to remind myself how positive the experience of change can be, especially in hindsight, even if it doesn’t quite feel that way now.
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