You know that feeling, falling through the air, out of control; free-fall. In your panicked state, every sense begins to overload, and your only choice is to shut down anything that isn’t necessary, silencing the voices of fear and concern, slamming your eyes shut and clenching your teeth because this madness will never, ever end.
You know that feeling.
It might come to you in dreams, or when you’re driving and your focus drifts away from the road, or in that brief inexplicable moment when an email takes too long to send and you’re staring at the screen.
You know that feeling because we all experience it – the sense that we are passengers in our own lives, on a ride over which we have very little control.
For me, the ride was adult life and specifically the world of work
[I won’t call it career, because… Well, you’ll hopefully see why by the end of this]
where a decision I made at age 13 to pursue “safe” subjects at school set me on a course which took years to unravel. I’d like to have a Hollywood recollection of that child, that his intuition was somehow powerfully accurate, but it would be a lie. I used to think he made the decision due to an inherited life-script or parental dictates, but that wasn’t the whole picture.
I know now what happened and why, but it’s not really the subject of this post – the subject is the bungee cord.
You see, 13-year old me decided to go towards what was interesting – in this case, scientific subjects – and in so doing attached the first of several bungee cords to his belt. He took the leap, and the first drop started. What a rush! High School, University, moving away from home… Free-falling until… until…
At 21 I hit the first of several lows, and I was certain it was going to be a hard impact. For the one and only time in my life, I lost hope and could see no way forward. Thankfully, I started writing my first novel, and I also saw how what I was learning as a chemistry student could be applied in the world of work.
The bungee reversed and pulled me back up again. That drop was over, so I strapped a new bungee on my belt and headed off to my first full-time job.
At 25, another low, that same panic of free-fall, I was dropping fast on a bungee I’d chosen and familiar feelings of hopelessness began to sneak up on me. I definitely didn’t know it then, but I’d begun to develop coping mechanisms for the end of the drop. I left chemistry behind and moved over to what felt like home: Human Resources or, more specifically, people and why they do what they do. The bungee took me back up and let me attach the next one.
As it did at 33 in 2001, leading to a move to the US.
As it did at 41 in 2009, leading to my stepping away from a very successful corporate career.
As it just has at 48 in 2016, as I finally and fully accept that the coaching I’ve always done is my professional and spiritual calling, and should rightfully sit at the forefront of my offering to the world.
But that’s not the point of this piece. The point is about how I learned to recognize and move through these bungee drop inflection points. Because I was continually growing my understanding that each time, I had made a similar decision, namely:
The way I’m living life right now isn’t meeting my needs, where can I go next that will better meet my needs?
Every single one, that same evaluation over and again. And as I look backwards with an open attitude of acceptance, repentance and forgiveness, I see that I was becoming better and better at the evaluation, each step bringing me closer to who I am and what I’m driven to do, to making me the best version of myself that I can be in this life. This is why I don’t think of it as a career path – my career is simply one of several vehicles through which I have been meeting my needs.
And, while my life journey and decisions are my own for sure, I know from every coaching discussion I’ve ever had that these bungee drops and turning points are very real for most people. Inflection points show up in cyclical fashion, and we each face our own familiar core evaluation and decision yet again.
So stop for a second, think of when you’ve experienced the bottom of a bungee drop, remember that feeling of panic and then the relief that you were able to turn things around. How successful were you? Were you a better you afterwards? How regularly has it happened for you?
[for me, it has been pretty much every 5-7 years]
Is one approaching? Are you in one now?
Let’s get you ready to move through it with focus, energy and momentum to make sure the next bungee drop is the best you’ve ever hoped for. The first step is the hardest so don’t hesitate: