Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Developing Clarity

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Remember being asked that question when we were young and in elementary school? I certainly do. I remember the girls wanted to be veterinarians and the boys wanting to be firemen. I wanted to be in the NHL because playing hockey was the most fun and watching Hockey Night in Canada would get me as excited as Christmas did. Around the same time I also remember wanting to be a businessman like my Dad. I never knew what being a businessman was about except that you got to wear a suit, be in meetings and go on ‘business’ trips. I must not have been older than 10years when I thought of these brilliant life plans. If you asked me the same question in my teens I probably would not have given you an answer. The truth was that I had no idea as to what I wanted to be when I grew up. At that time the only thing on my mind was the sudden involuntary changes in my voice or the pubic hair I was growing. Yet like many of us who were fortunate enough to have parents, coaches and teachers that cared we were steered in the right direction by them to practice activities and disciplines that would keep our doors open for the future. My parents were my guidance and support. They encouraged me to keep life options available by enrolling in music, sports and eventually taking University preparatory classes like ‘Science Math’ as it was called – a harder class which would ease the transition into the University programs. It’s funny to think that I had more clarity when I was a child than I probably did when I was a teen.

Developing clarity in ones future direction is not always as easy as it may be for others. We have all met the person who always knew what they were going to do when they ‘grew up’. As a child when I got together with my cousin we would always go on a search for ‘Fool’s Gold’. We would spend hours trying to find the biggest piece of gold. During these days I recall how my cousin always said he wanted to be a treasure hunter. Today he is doing just that - he spends 6months of the year on a boat with a reputable company looking for treasures from the past that were lost in the oceans of the world.
He knew right from the beginning what it was he would be doing while for me, finding clarity was something that I struggled with in my teenage years and for most of my twenties. I had a million ideas that I wanted to do at once yet none of them presented me with the path that I knew I was meant to follow. It was like standing at a 10-way intersection (can you imagine) in a city you have never been to before and in your pocket you had everything needed to be the best no matter what road you chose. I convinced myself that clarity would come to me one day. I just had to give it time and until then pass no door of opportunity that presented itself to me.

Time is just what it took and it was not until I was 28years old that I was standing at a 2-way intersection compared to the 10-way intersection just a few years earlier. Things were falling into place and how natural and right it was beginning to feel. There is nothing wrong with taking the time to find out what it exactly is you will be doing when you are ‘grown up’. During much of my twenties I was headed in a direction that felt good, but still I had my doubts about what the future held because of all the roads before me. I wanted to be a movie director, a graphic designer, a teacher, a physiotherapist and a doctor all in a period of 5 years and boy, was I confused. Though life felt right, I still was not the person who could say with a 100% certainty what it was I would end up doing in the future as a career.

During this somewhat frustrating time (I wanted clarity so bad) I did however possess the virtue of patience that would allow me to figure it all out in due time. Remembering the support and opportunities presented to me by my parents and teachers I knew that though on my own and working for a company, I had to still be someone willing to keep my doors open and accept the guidance and prospects before me. I was having fun trying new things at work and why would I turn it down knowing that with every new challenge there was something to learn and the chance to develop a clearer vision while doing so. I left many doors open at the same time – I continued with a documentary film I was creating on the side, reading material on physical therapy, constantly educating myself all the while taking on the challenge of new roles at my workplace. I enjoyed everything I was doing and realized that my twenties were a very productive time in my life

The twenties were a time filled with uncertainty but in the end, actually yielded much to be thankful for. During these years I had accomplished a lot and through these experiences gained a greater sense of clarity towards a path that I would soon be taking. Today I am 30 years old and up to this point I have no regrets about anything I did because there was something valuable in each experience that helped develop my own sense of clarity and certainly did I not envy my cousin who was someone that had this figured out way before me. Yes it took a little longer for me to figure it out - but alas, my time has come. By embracing the opportunities that came my way, I was able to find out what it is I wanted to do when I ‘grow-up’. Today if you were to ask me what it is I want to be I will tell you that I am going to be a business owner and excel in the field of Health and Fitness. I am developing into someone that I had not thought of as a child or teenager. I also realized that I never would be a ‘grown-up’ because really we never stop growing in the figurative sense and though I have clarity for the next chapter in my life I am unsure of my 40’s or 50’s. I will take my core values and vision into the next 10 years, embrace all the challenges and opportunities that come my way and this will create new clarity for me into the next chapter.

Our lives like a book can be broken into chapters. We should strive to make the chapters flow and continually evolve into something great. Some chapters can be longer and with less clarity but once we develop a sense of purpose it makes writing the next chapter that much easier. Clarity will come when we are patient all the while allowing opportunity to come our way, embracing challenges and simply by jumping in and getting your feet wet. Give 100% at all times and each chapter will therefore as exciting as the next and in the end develop into a great story.

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