What about if this was it - you had reached the end of the journey...What would you regret? For me it was not doing the Inca Trail in Peru. That realisation changed my whole life...
At my career pivotal moment, I was a successful lawyer in the City of London. I thought I had made it. I had ticked all the right boxes of success.
I had the great career, the very nice salary, the lovely apartment, the right lawyer boyfriend. I should have felt happy and fulfilled. But I wasn’t. Underneath it all I had this nagging feeling that something was missing. I just couldn’t work out what it was.
I wondered whether I should change law firms - maybe to somewhere less high profile where I could have more work life balance. I felt lost, confused and so I did nothing - hoping the feeling would go away.
Little did I know that I was at a pivotal moment - that this was my wake up call. That I was being asked to take a hard look at my life and what I was doing with it. And that however much I tried to avoid it, it would eventually catch up with me.
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. 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 for day and night. But that wasn't it. It wasn't doing the Inca Trail in Peru.
I set off on a quest to 'live with no regrets'. First stop - try to find my life purpose and create meaningful work. More generally looking for what I was meant to be doing with my life. And that is what I have been doing for the last 18 years.
Since then, I have done many of the things we do when we are at a pivotal moment. I learnt to meditate, did a career change, took a sabbatical, set up my own business, did the whole ‘laptop lifestyle thing’ between London and San Francisco, went to India (of course!), lived in a ski resort in the French Alps, helped set up a social enterprise, and relocated to Switzerland.
What I have learnt from my 18 years experiment is this...
The key is alignment - being aligned to yourself.
Purpose is not a destination it is a way of life.
It is not simply about the external stuff or even just following passion. It is about touching the world with your unique presence. Starting with understanding who you actually are.
A pivotal moment is a call to reconnect, show up and step up to a new level.
It is not an easy journey, but it is so worthwhile.
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