Starting over is a scary prospect. Our human nature wants to move forward, one foot in front of the other and off we go. We want to blaze trails. We want to climb mountains. We want to sail the seas. We want to fly the skies. And we intend to climb up not down the ladders in our careers and move up not down the financial scale in society.
So by nature, starting over does not appeal to any of us. Least of all to me! I should know, even though I was spared the brunt of the situation because I was just a kid. My Dad was 40 and my mom in her early 30s when we left Iran for an initial 2-week vacation to Turkey that turned out to be a “vacation” of a lifetime. My parents left everything behind. When they closed the door to our beloved sweet home at 13 Lida Street in Tehran, they had no idea that they were closing the door to a chapter of our lives that we will forever reminisce.
I watched them over the years as they rebuilt our life and I am immensely proud of their courage to leave one life behind in order to start another, so that we could live in a free country and have opportunities we never would have seen in Iran. Yet reality bites, and the road to stability and financial comfort was not a fun one, and someday, I will chronicle every detail of this journey in a book but for now, suffice it to say that I never became a fan of starting over. It was all about forging ahead, moving up and up in the world, and doing it as fast as I could.
Except, well, until I became so disillusioned with my career in Corporate America that even this great fear – the fear of starting over, the fear of going back to zero, if in nothing else then definitely in income, and doing so not in my 20s but well into my 30s, even that fear paled in comparison to the risks and rewards of starting over.
Starting over now meant I can have a chance at real success and true happiness and I was willing to do it.
Sometimes, we climb the wrong ladder. Sometimes, we get stuck in the wrong “successful” career. Sometimes, we find ourselves miserable in a “rich” lifestyle. Or in the case of my family, sometimes we get stuck in the wrong country at the wrong time in history. It Happens. And it is NOT your fault.
Stop blaming yourself for feeling miserable when you “should” be happy and grateful. Gratitude has nothing to do with your heart’s emptiness and with your own questioning of whether you made the right choices. Stop confusing the two and for what may be the first time in your life, open your ears and listen to your heart’s whisper. What is it telling you now that nothing you have tried is filling you with inner peace? What does it want you to do so you can feel free to do work that you can find meaningful and rewarding?
No one plans for these forks in the road. No one anticipates a midlife career crisis – that’s for the other people who are lost and confused but not us – and no one looks for the day when you wake up and feel you simply can’t do it anymore. No one is prepared for it and hardly anyone wants to deal with it. The easy way now is to go on ignoring the feeling and paying the price later. The hard way is to listen to yourself and to start over.
Well, I have news for you. Starting over won’t kill you. It will make you stronger, and you will wonder why you did not do this sooner because if you really think about it, time is all you got, and when you feel the urge to leave something and start something else, waiting only kills more of your most precious resource: time, and yet waiting is what most ends up doing, only to end up in an unhappier place down the road.
Starting over asks for commitment and courage. You need to spend the time to build your new skills, and you need to understand that it doesn’t happen overnight.
If you want to start a career in finance, you don’t need to know everything about the stock market on day 1. If you want to take care of little animals in a shelter, you are not going to be responsible for their every need from day 1. If you want to become a speaker, you are not expected to speak before a room full of people right off the bat. You build skills over time, and yet time passes and you grow and when you are doing what you love, when your heart sings and your soul feels liberated to do work that it believes in, then you won’t mind so much putting in the hours and rebuilding your dream. This time, you know that you are on the right path. You know you are climbing the right ladder, walking down the right path, and following the right signals.
Starting over today will pay handsomely tomorrow.
Why do we hesitate to start over? Or rather, why are we terrified of it? Naturally because we wonder if it’s too late. If we are too old and if our golden window of opportunity has long since closed.
Rubbish, stop lying to yourself.
You are still alive, aren’t you? You are still breathing and moving, right? You can still dream and believe, can’t you? Then I wouldn’t be in such a hurry to join the living dead. I would be in a hurry to start living and if that means starting over, then so be it.
Start over now. It is NOT too late for you to start a new career now but don’t wait longer either because tomorrow, you will wish you had started yesterday.