If I told you that this was it - this was the end of your journey, would you have any regrets? Would you feel that you had made the impact you wanted to make? I faced this question not once, but twice and both times it changed my life. The first time was on 10th December, 1999...
In my previous post, I talked about the 5 signs that show that you are at a career pivotal moment. This post today is about what career pivotal moments are really about.
What Will You Regret?
So here I was a lawyer - successful on the outside. But feeling like something was missing on the inside. I was trying to avoid these uncomfortable feelings. I was hoping that pushing them down or distracting myself would be enough. That they would go away. But none of it was really working.
Luckily for me it all came crashing down...
On 10th December 1999, my life changed. I found myself in the hospital as a result of an infection I caught in the operating theatre. I was pumped for weeks on end with IV antibiotics.
They got the infection under control, but I was left in constant pain, only able to stay awake 3 hours a day and hardly able to walk. Nobody knew why. After trying to re-operate with no success, the doctors announced they didn’t think I would ever get better. I was 26 years old and it looked like I would be disabled for life.
I remember laying there in bed staring at the white wall crying. Feeling like my life had just ended. And this question came into my mind. ‘If this is truly it, what will I regret?’
It stopped me in my tracks. I thought that what I would regret would be not becoming a partner in the law firm I had been working day and night for.
What actually came was not hiking the Inca Trail in Peru. What is funny about that is I didn't even know where Peru was on a map. I remember thinking to myself: ‘God, I am so s…….The only thing I will regret is not doing a trek in a country that I can’t even locate on a map.’
Lost In Action
In that moment I got it. I realised that what was missing was me. I had lost myself in the race to the top. I had taken a wrong turn somewhere and I had completely disconnected from myself and what I was really about.
To be honest I had been so busy ticking the boxes of success that I didn’t even know who I really was anymore. I had the good career, the nice home, the great car, the lovely holidays and the right lawyer boyfriend. But the problem was that I was missing in action... from my life.
I was collecting items that were meant to represent success, but I couldn’t feel anything inside. And definitely not the fulfilment I expected
And so I made a promise to myself. It was to live with no regrets - whatever that meant. And that is what I have been doing for the last 18 years and it has been an interesting adventure!
So let me ask you this - if this was it for you and you found yourself in that hospital bed staring at the white wall, 'what would you regret?’.
Where are you 'missing in action' from your life?
This moment taught me what pivotal moments are really about. This is what I have learnt since...
1. They Are Your Wake Up Call
When I was sick, I kept having this recurring thought: 'This is your wake up call. If you do the work, you will get better.' I had no idea what 'doing the work' meant. And to be honest I was just kind of freaked out by the whole thing.
What I know now is that pivotal moments are our wake up call back to ourselves. I had lost myself in the chase for external success. That nagging uncomfortable feeling was calling me back home - back to myself, my real potential and to my true purpose. That was the work.
So if your pivotal moment was trying to wake you up to something what would it be? How much are you living from your true potential? How often do you ‘visit’ yourself - to listen in to what is really important to you and what you really want to contribute? And are you living true to that?
2. They Call For Your Greatness
Pivotal moments remind you that you are not here to simply race to the top, you are here to rise to greatness.
They call you to your real next level of purpose and your true impact. They ask for you to contribute meaningfully - to evolve the world by being true to yourself. Ultimately they wake you up to yourself, to your next level of leadership and positive impact in the world.
Are you expressing your true purpose out in the world? What is holding you back? Do you even know what your purpose is?
3. They Ask That You Get Back On Track
I later studied with shamans - these are healers and spiritual guides in indigenous cultures.
They had this idea that we are all born with a sacred plan - like a true path we are meant to follow. They say that if we follow our sacred plan, we fulfil our promise and do what we are really here to do. Our life flows and we make ‘our appointments’. We meet on the way the people who are here to help us fulfil that promise.
But they say that in our modern world, we get lost and we forget our sacred plan. So we end up getting off track. And our life ends up feeling like something is missing.
That is where pivotal moments come in. They are there to remind you to get back on track. They call to you to live beyond the perceived safety of the boxes. They ask that you honour your promise to live your sacred plan and that you ‘be who you really are, do what you are truly meant to do and make the difference only you can make’.
Indeed, what if you were here to do something only you can do, would you not want to do it?
You have to get the lesson...
I was ill in total for about 18 months. During that time I set out on a path of reconnecting to myself and of finding my purpose. This ultimately led to a career change.
Interestingly, once I did the work, I got better. There came a point when I got new symptoms. This pushed the doctors to re-operate.
I remember staring in bewilderment when I received the letter notifying me of my new operation. It was scheduled for 10th December, 2000. Exactly a year from the first operation that had set the whole thing in motion…to the day. I took it as a sign that I had answered the call and that that was my reward. 6 Months later I was back to full health.
I believe that I had got the lesson. What lesson is your pivotal moment trying to teach you?
In my next blog in this series, we will look at how to consciously navigate these pivotal moments and at what really makes a difference.
Until next time,
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