Three years ago, I left my financial markets role and embarked on a different journey. Truth be told, I did not really know what this journey would look like, but at least I had some things to fall back on and not be completely bored – I digress here, but I believe the biggest reason why many of us don’t “leave things and move on” is because we don’t what the next thing will be and we are really afraid to be bored.
With so much time up my sleeve, a renewed sense of excitement, an attitude of “give it a try” and an extraordinary feeling of “I feel so good now that I am out”, I became involved with many different people, different businesses, different education courses, different clubs and organisations, some travel, you name it, I did more, sucked less.
While I have a busy calendar, I know that I can wipe it clean if I don’t feel like doing something that day or change my mind (which I do often) or feel like mixing things up, I can just shift meetings/appointments/calls/tasks in my Google calendar to my heart’s content. The funny thing is that I get it all done and more often than not, exceptionally well.
A couple of weeks ago, I had a chat with one of my ex-work colleagues who also left banking. We agreed it was great to have been able to take this time, make some fundamental changes to our lives and our goals and understand what really matters to us. We thought we ended up with a great opportunity to spend more time with our kids/teenagers, with our partners, with ourselves. In our chat, there was never a feeling of “we know better” but am sure we rationalised our situation somewhat. However, everything we said was true to us, it was exactly what we felt.
And the inevitable question came up? What next? I told him about some of the things I was thinking about doing, trying to narrow down the options, aiming to make the right call. After all, I probably have another lifetime or two inside of me, too many plans and ideas and certainly not enough money to see me through.
Should I go back to my old work before it is too late? Or will one of my ventures hit the big time and pay me to live these lifetimes? Should I just reinvent myself completely, study something else and try to build a brand new and entirely different career at this stage? Should I move somewhere else? What lessons have I learned that could help me make these choices? I had to decide, soon.
And then Weezer’s “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived” played on the radio. Great song and it got me thinking – Act II. In most modern plays, there are only two acts. In Act I, the protagonist encounters a complication or a problem that sends him to a low point. As we reach the end of the Act, he makes an important decision that may solve this problem. In Act II, we reach the climax, the battle between the problem and the decision and we then have a resolution and a new way forward. The main character is now at a high.
Problem, decision, resolution, Act II.
And I realised that I am in the middle of my Act II and I am at a high. The battle between the problem and the decision was resolved a while ago and I am living the new way forward. And this new way forward is exciting, mysterious, uncertain and unexpected. I may still go back to my old work or hit the start-up jackpot or build a brand new and different career or do something completely different. Regardless of the answers that pop up, I am living my Act II.
Problem, decision, resolution, Act II.
And these irreverent lyrics are now stuck in my head.
“Somebody said all the world’s a stage and each of us is a player
That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you
In act one, I was struggling to survive. Nobody wanted my action dead or alive
In act two, I hit the big time and bodies be all up on my behind
And I can’t help myself cuz I was born to shine
If you don’t like it, you can shove it. But you don’t like it, you love it.
So I’ll be here up in a rage until they put the curtain down on the stage
‘til they bring the curtain down on the stage”
We all have an Act II. Find your Act II. Get into your Act II.
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