I think it’s important to think for yourself.
All too often we follow the inertia of the crowd. We go with the flow until we don’t know who we are anymore. The result is that we end up having a career we’re not inspired by, a list of responsibilities a mile long or a case of bone-tired fatigue.
When you don’t know who you are, you keep doing the wrong things.
At 40 years old, I know exactly who I am. I know what floats my boat and what fills me with fatigue. I know what makes me happy and what makes me want to stay under the covers all day cuddling with one of my son’s stuffed animals.
It took me years and dozens of self-help books to figure this all out. But I figured it all out. And now I’m free. Free to follow my own dreams, my own instincts, and make up my own mind.
I’m in charge of my own life. Just like you are in charge of yours.
Take, for example, the fact that when I travel to NYC I prefer to take the train instead of flying. When I tell people that it’s my preferred form of travel they always say the same thing. “You know, the flight from Richmond to NYC, is only an hour. You’d get there so much faster if you flew.”
I do know that.
But there are other things I know as well. I know the journey is calmer on the train – I get on the train, I sit down in a larger seat with more legroom and I get some work done. Six hours later with no effort exerted at all, I’m in the heart of downtown Manhattan. It’s like magic.
Flying, to me, is a whole lot of hurry up and wait – wait in line at the check-in counter, wait in line to board the plane, wait in line to get off the plane, wait in line for your bags. Oh, and please wait until we’re 10,000 feet in the air to open your laptop.
And guess what gets done while you’re waiting? Nothing.
The journey on a plane to NYC (door-to-door) actually takes a little over four hours. I’ll trade four hours of waiting and cramming and getting nothing done for six hours of relaxation and productivity any damn day. Sign me up.
And don’t even get me started about the view.
People think I’m crazy for taking the train. But I think I’m smart.
I’m not smart because I did the math on the ticket prices. I’m smart because I know what fuels me and what drains me and I choose to do the things that fuel me.
Be careful about defaulting to the most common way of doing things. Doing so might lead you down a path you don’t actually like.
I’m a student of life.
I watch and learn and study the most common way of doing things. And then I carefully and quickly make up my own mind as to whether that’s a good path for me.
Here are four other aspects of my life that represent the path less traveled.
- I live in Richmond, VA. I always have and I always will. Most people in my career circle of influence think I’m crazy. They say that I’m limiting my potential. I don’t see it that way. I think I’m maximizing my happiness. My family and friends are in Richmond, and I think that’s more important than career potential. It does, however, mean that a lot of train rides to NYC are in my future.
- I don’t want my company to be big. I’ve reached a certain plateau of success at work, and I have no plans to keep climbing. I’m just going to dance on the plateau that I’m currently on. Bigger is not better, for me. I know that for sure. Bigger is stressful. Small is beautiful.
- I’m not the board member type. I get a lot of requests to join different boards, but I don’t have to think long about my answer. Boards are just not my thing. The responsibilities weigh me down, stress me out and take me away from the things in my life that I love like my job, my friends and my family.
- I share responsibilities with my husband. I ran into an acquaintance the other day and she asked me if I had signed my son Alex up for soccer yet. I said, “I’m not sure, my husband handles all the kids’ sporting activities.” The look on her face was one of pure shock. She said, “He does? Wow. That’s amazing!!!” I would not call what we do amazing; I would call it teamwork. My husband and I both work, we both made these children, and we both take responsibility for them. The most common path of the mother being responsible for everything concerning the children is not a path I want to be on, and it’s not one my husband would want to be on either. We’re a divide and conquer kinda crew.
For far too many years of my life, I followed the most common path in almost every area of my life. I watched what everyone else did, and I blindly followed along.
Now I know better. I know myself better.And in the words of Maya Angelou, “When you know better, you do better.”
Now it’s your turn.
What’s one area of your life where you’re taking the road less travelled and you’re proud of yourself for doing so?
Good. Now, start creating some more.