it doesn’t have to be so

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Back in the mid-90s, when I was working for a big US consulting firm in Russia, I remembered having a feeling of inevitability: I had to keep working. I had commitments, I had clients, I had a contract, I had staff and managers and partners who all depended on me. My landlady needed my rent. My friends and family would be upset if I bailed. Everything depended, in short order, on me. I was the pivot on which the world turned.

It doesn’t have to be so.

I spent more than a decade in New York City, working at increasingly stressful jobs trying to support my family. I always knew it might be easier elsewhere, but I knew I couldn’t do it. I had commitments, I had clients, I had contracts, I had people who depended on me. Everything pointed to me staying. I couldn’t forge a sensible exit.

It doesn’t have to be so.

The ease with which I sold my house (in a horrible housing market), moved (in a terrible job market), found a new contract (in a more depressed job market), and found a new house at a good price have all astonished me. The lesson I’ve learned – and it’s a powerful one – is that you can’t assume that you cannot improve your own life. Events may conspire to create a better future for you whether you expect them to or not.  Whatever your current circumstance, if it’s not what you want: it doesn’t have to be so.

If you want to make a change in your own life, you’ll hear tons of arguments against it.  You may even make the arguments yourself. It’s too risky, too drastic, too far, too northern, too western, too conservative, too liberal. Don’t listen to any of it. I have always loved the phrase “is this a test life”? I’ve too seldom lived that. Whatever your current circumstance, if it doesn’t work for you – it doesn’t have to be so.

Take what doesn’t work for you and make it work. Need to change jobs? Need to move? Need to change your relationships or your diet or your mindset? Do it. You’ll get pushback, that’s human nature. But it doesn’t. have. to. be. so. Nothing is preordained, and the best chance you’ll have in this life is the chance you make for yourself. Whatever obstacles you face and whatever circumstances you’re living under today – it doesn’t HAVE to be so.

photo by lrargerich