Uncharted Territory

Happy New Year! Is it just me, or does it seems like this year has gotten underway very quickly?

Though we’re already a week in, I’m still unobtrusively trying to wrap up loose ends from last year’s projects. Instead, I should be taking steps to prepare for this year…yet, I also ponder whether that’s adequate or whether a full overhaul is needed.

Do you plan to adjust course from previous years? As each year flows to the next, I like to look back and reflect on where I’ve been. And, I inevitably make adjustments. I try to repair things that are broken or that aren’t working optimally. I hesitate to admit that sometimes I even set things aside that I’m at a loss to fix…and, I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing, as sometimes solutions to difficult issues will become clear in time. On occasion, I chart a completely new course, either by choice or because I’m prompted by circumstance.

Over recent weeks, I’ve enjoyed opportunities to visit with, or hear from, many different people. I’ve caught up with family, friends, neighbors and others – most of whom I know well, but don’t see often. As well, it’s been fun to meet new people. I came away with insights about myself, as well as ideas to try out this upcoming year.

Most of the young people in my life are now in their late teens or twenties. They’ve started to map, chart, and embark on their own voyages. I’m impressed by their energy and hard work, as well as their focused planning. I hope that they’ll continue to successfully navigate the many decisions, fears, influences and distractions that are swirling around them. Thus far, I’ve been happy to see them confidently make choices based on their own interests, skills and values (some, quite different from my own). I’ve also been impressed by their resilience when some of their plans didn’t turn out as envisioned.

Others in my circle find themselves navigating other types of changes. Some are retiring and/or adjusting to an empty nest, or happily arriving at other planned destinations. Some are grieving the loss of a partner or a broken relationship that couldn’t be mended. Some are in flux because of career setbacks or financial losses from the recession. I’m hopeful and curious to see how each will reinvent and re-chart their future course as this new year unfolds.

One of my favorite people continues to be a stellar and brave role model for me. She graciously accepts and comes to terms with the details, fears and uncertainty of living with a terminal illness. She must continually recalibrate her journey, accept ongoing losses of physical abilities and an ever-increasing need for help from others. Somehow, she does this with joy.

As I embark upon this new year, I feel very lucky and happy to be somewhere at mid-point – between those younger ones whose voyages are just getting underway and those whose careers or lives are changing course or returning to harbor. I’ve learned from each of them things that will help guide me on my own future journeys.

It’s also been especially helpful to compare notes with others who are also at mid-point. I had an inspiring conversation with someone who owns his own, very successful, business. Though he could stay the course or slow down a bit, he plans to change things up and try something new this year. He told me that he wants these next 5 to 10 years before retirement to be innovative, not mundane. He plans to tackle some bigger challenges that will leave our world a better place.

I’m impressed, and a bit jealous…as I know that I, and many of us, also want to help make this world a better place. If we could align those values and activities with our careers, it’s more likely that we’ll make a bigger difference.

Someone recently asked me to describe my “Dream Job.” The question caught me off guard, though it shouldn’t have. I’ve been told many times, “Have a 7-second elevator speech at the ready,” for just such occasions! Yet, subsequently, I muttered something about previous work I’ve done, my educational background, and the work environments that I’ve most enjoyed.

I realized almost immediately that I didn’t answer the question with anything substantive or memorable, much less touch on activities that might bring real enjoyment or fulfillment. One of the reasons for this disconnect is that boating, and my other true passions and favorite activities, have never been part of my actual career path. I suspect that’s a problem for many of us. We work in other fields to make these other activities possible.

I personally hope to bring those aspects of my life closer together in this coming year.
To me, each new year truly seems like uncharted territory. The possibilities are compelling, perhaps even overwhelming in that they seem infinite. We could perhaps go anywhere…but, based on where we’ve already been, where we are, who we’re traveling with, and where we hope to go, we set our course.

Here’s to the journey!

Karen Berge

Karen Berge

I enjoy living in Seattle, where boating opportunities abound. My goal is to take advantage of them all!
Karen Berge

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