Never too late

Sandra consulted me two years ago about big life changes she was planning. A successful professional in her mid-60s, Sandra felt she was at a crossroads in every area of her life, including home, relationships and work. She had lots of energy and plenty more to give to her life, but she harboured doubts about making big changes ‘so late in life.’ Could she take the radical step to redesign her life? Would she succeed? How would it affect the important people in her life? Would she have regrets if things didn’t go according to her plans?

copyright@BBH_Singapore / Unsplash stockphoto
We used the Dharma Diamond over three working sessions to assess the important areas of her life. We looked at what she wanted to preserve and discussed what she wanted to change. At the end of our sessions Sandra had a reasonable plan of action that included selling properties, moving to a new house, starting a new venture and respectfully reorganising her relationship and social life. All in all, a big list for someone who is extra-careful and risk averse. 

After taking time to think it through, Sandra began implementing her plan with the confidence that she knew she could not continue with her life as it was. She admitted that she felt secure in her old familiar life, but she felt constrained and limited by it as well. She was able to make changes because she felt that she had connected with a deeper, authentic part of her by using the Dharma Diamond. She was confident that regardless of the outcome, that she was strong enough to take a step. That was eighteen months ago.

Sandra recently called to update me on her progress and to ask some questions.

“Things aren’t going as well as I had planned.”

“How so? In what way?” I asked.

“Various complications and delays, mostly. Also, some unexpected expenses. It’s been a tough year of adjustment.”

“How do you feel about it?”

“I have made progress. So, it’s not all bad. But I sometimes have moments of doubt. Especially when uncertainties weigh on me, I second guess myself. Then I panic a bit.”

“That’s natural,” I replied. “Doubt is a function of intelligence. Your professional training has taught you to be a critical thinker. Why wouldn’t you think like that when you meet with uncertainty?”

“That’s what I tell myself. I know better, but still, if I overthink it, I get nervous.”

“Let’s step back from the worry for a minute. How much progress have you made with your plan?”

“Actually, quite a lot. My new project is well underway. I have my website up. I’ve moved to my new house and I am working on my relationships.”

“Are you missing the certainty of your old life?” I asked.

“Perhaps. I think it’s more that I am missing certainty in my new life. I still have a way to go before I can feel settled.”

“Are you happy you’ve made changes?”

“Yes. I am really. I couldn’t go back to my old life. Even though my new life has yet to fully take shape in the way I thought it would, I could not go back. That would be worse than never making any changes, because I’ve tasted a new freedom and feel more myself now.”

“We spent time with the Dharma Diamond looking at the Truth of your life. We asked some tough questions, like ‘could you carry on as you were?’ And ‘could you be happy or at least content in sticking with what you had?’”

“I remember that I answered, ‘no I can’t carry on. I need a change.’”

“So, no regrets then?”

“No. Not at all. The work we did was a turning point for me. It clarified what mattered most to me. It gave me the confidence to act. Up till then I spent a great deal of my life thinking mostly about others’ needs and neglecting my own. Our work helped me realise that I also count. And that I could care for my needs as well as others’ needs.”

“Anything else?”

“Yes. My values guided the changes I’ve made. I’ve been thoughtful about my choices, thanks to our work with the Dharma Diamond. This gave me the confidence I needed to act.”

“And the result?”

“It’s helped me step into the unknown. In taking that step I’ve made discoveries about myself that I didn’t expect, which proved valuable. The process has enriched me and made me stronger. I am curious to see where it will lead.”

“I am too. You said you had a question.”

“I do. Is there a good way to manage my self-doubt while keeping to my plan?”

“Yes. Why not start by looking at how much you’ve done and how far you’ve come in a short period of time? From my standpoint it looks like you’ve made real strides in achieving your goals.”

“Thank you. It is helpful to take stock and acknowledge how far I’ve come.”

“Another thought is that life has its uncertainties. Suppose you didn’t make any changes and kept your life the way it was. You would still have to deal with uncertainties in that situation too. You are more conscious of the uncertainties in your new life, because your plan needs time to fully unfold. Patience is an underestimated virtue nowadays.”

“I like to get things done quickly, so I do have a tendency to be impatient.”

“Keep that in mind as you continue towards your goals. I also think it’s important to celebrate your courage in deciding to make changes at this stage of your life. I think you are a good example that it’s never too late to follow your truth.”

 

—Michael

 

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6 Comments

  1. Avatar

    I relate to this share. I acknowledge the good in my journey, and I also find that when common themes, or patterns come up I immediately see them as the “same” as before, but I begin to interpret them as negative. The new me reminds myself, I have never lived this day, or this moment before, and I then invite humility and courage into my life to confidently face this “new” fear or concern with my authentic self leading the way. 🙏🧘🏻‍♀️

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Hi Alisa
      Thank you for your comments. It’s a challenge for all us, to move forward, be strong, remember past lessons but not look back, lament and second guess ourselves. It’s always best to, like you said, check in with “the new me.” Lastly, humility and courage go hand in hand. I gave a talk at the London Yoga Festival last week, where I quoted Gandhi who said that humility and non-violence, take a great deal of courage. He said it was the pinnacle of bravery. Keep well. Nice to hear from you again.
      Kind regards,
      Michael

      Reply
  2. Avatar

    It was nice to see how she”d focused on the positive aspects and that had helped with confidence in her choices.

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Sandra is a strong character. Still, she needed someone to share her feelings and express her inner doubts. But it didn’t take long for her to realign to her goals and feel better about her choices. I agree Susan, often times staying focused on the positive is the right answer, if not the only answer.
      —Michael

      Reply
  3. Avatar

    I like that you’ve shown that there’s still difficulty in the course of carrying out a good choice.

    Reply
    • Avatar

      The truth of life for most of us seems to be that making good choices and implementing them takes work. It takes Effort, the fourth Dharma principle, which embodies passion, commitment and follow through. As Teddy Roosevelt said: “Nothing in this world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.”

      Reply

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