Monday, August 10, 2009

20 Years - Don't Let Life Pass You By

On Saturday I was contributing my time to a Christian Concert event ( A friend and I decided to take lunch at the Wendy's across the street. We arrived at an ideal time as there was also no line ahead of us but one quickly formed behind us. As we were being served the manager opened another cash to help out. Upon seeing the manager my friend remarked she thought that the manager (a woman) looked familiar. So she went over to talk to her and sure enough, they did.

My friend had worked with this woman at Wendy's 20 years ago (and I had worked next door at Culture's) and here this woman was was still working at Wendy's 20 years later.

20 years of Wendy's?? No offense to the fine establishment that Wendy's is but we had a hard time grasping that reality. In those twenty years we had each held half a dozen different jobs and had our own businesses, gaining unique experience from each position along the way. What experiences has she had in 20 years of working at Wendy's? A whole lot of the same old, same old.

Now to be fair, it's possible she left Wendy's pursued other things and for whatever reason returned, although I doubt it. I doubt anyone would return to Wendy's once they had expanded themselves in their careers. Regardless, if someone told her 20 years ago this is what she would be doing now, without question, she would have venomously called them a liar and assured them she would not. So what happened?

Without interviewing her on the matter we can only speculate but some of the answers are clear.

Comfort - Staying at Wendy's was more comfortable than trying to do something new. Possibly she has limited education or just doesn't believe she's all that bright. Either way she has vastly underestimated her own potential and allowed herself to settle for what was easy and safe.

Fear - There's always some fear in changing careers. Fear you may not be successful in your new job. Fear you will be rejected and never find another job. Fear you may not like your new job. Fear can conjure all sorts of ridiculous notions into your head.

Doubt - Clearly she doubts she could do better. Ties closely into fear.

Lack of Vision - Does not have any dreams or vision for her life. So she's just cruising down the river of life, caught in the current, seeing where it goes, better or worse.

Lack of goals - As above. She's not setting goals for herself. Even if she doesn't have any dreams or aspirations, she should still have been goal setting to get ahead in her life. After 20 years she should, at least, be regional manager, not still working front line manager.

Not before we pass judgement on this lady let's look at ourselves first. While very few of us, nowadays are in the same career for 20 years, many of us are stuck in some area of our lives where we haven't really moved on. Most likely, we aren't even aware of it or if we are, we choose not to think of it. Reflect for a minute on all areas of your life. Is there some area where you've allowed yourself to sit for 5, 10, 20 years? Looking back 20 years, are you now where you would have envisioned yourself being at this point in your life? If not, why not? Most likely for these same reasons.

Do not allow any more time to go by, you've been idle long enough. Decide, right now to change. Define what you want that change to look like and then take immediate action.

Don't allow the next 20 years to slip through your fingers.

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