It started with McCaw having surgery at the end of February to remove another eight cancerous growths. Then an Instagram friend was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. This week someone else I know had to put their dog to sleep after she was unexpectedly diagnosed with bone cancer. And yesterday I read of yet another person who has just made the hard decision to stop chemotherapy treatment for their dog after finding out how aggressive the cancer was. Throw in my own cancer scare (I’m fine, I just need another check up in six months) and suddenly life is beginning to feel very fragile.
The month of March was a sad one, which led to me asking all those big life questions. To be honest at times I felt like I was going through a mid-life crisis. Don’t get me wrong though. I feel very blessed to have the life I do. My relationship is strong and happy. We live in a house we love, in a beautiful part of Tasmania with four dogs who bring us so much pleasure. But this month I’ve been feeling like a piece of the puzzle is still missing.
I think that puzzle piece is Purpose.
Earlier this week I was listening to the podcast Honest Money Conversations and the following question was asked:
If you weren’t doing what you are doing now, what would you be doing?
It summed up everything I had been thinking over the past few weeks. Is what I do now what I want to be doing for the next twenty years? And if not, what would I really love to do?
I have also been working my way through the book The Life Plan by Shannah Kennedy. I’ve read it before, but never took the time to think about and answer the questions in the worksheets. That’s the problem with self-help books. If you don’t actually do the work then you aren’t helping your self. Some of the questions I’ve found most useful to think about have been:
Who and what is most important to you?
Who and what are you inspired by and why?
What makes you smile or brings you sheer delight?
What are your natural gifts and abilities?
What do you really want for your future?
And my personal favourite … what are you afraid of?
Because the thing is, just because we have been doing something for a long time we don’t have to keep doing it. There are no rules in this game of life. We get to create our present and future however we want. And if something isn’t making you happy, then you are the only one who can change that.
The problem with change through is that it's scary. It’s scary because change is full of unknowns. And the unknown comes with a whole lot of other questions that most of the time can’t be answered.
How do we know we are making the right decision? Well we don’t. Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith. We took a huge leap of faith moving to Tasmania three years ago. We didn’t know if we were making the right decision. Without a crystal ball we had no way of knowing. And while it hasn’t always been easy, we have made it work. And if we can make that work, we can make anything work!
What if it turns out to be the wrong decision? Well that’s ok too. If you choose to explore another path and it turns out to be a dead-end, then you simply turn around and go back to your original path and start again. Just because you had the courage to try a different life path, it doesn’t mean you have to stay on it forever if it isn’t the right one.
What if it’s a complete failure? Believe me when I say you will not die. I can’t tell you how many times I have failed at something. But I’m still here to tell the tale. And with time you get over it and move on.
What if it’s hard work? In my experience anything new is scary and hard work to start with. So if you want something bad enough you have to be prepared to do the hard yards.
What if … ? What if … ? What if …?
At some point you need to stop with the what ifs. Or rather stop with the negative what ifs. Because what if making a change turns out to be the best thing you ever did? What would your life look like then? And how would it make you feel? Pretty bloody good I reckon.
All I know is that I don’t want to get to the end of my life with a whole lot of unanswered what ifs. So while it’s been a sad month it has also been a good one, as I’m pretty sure I’ve found that missing puzzle piece. And while this may all sound rather cryptic I promise I will fill you in as I go along. For now it’s about finding the twenty seconds of courage to fill in a form and commit to beginning something new and exciting.