Is this it? Pressing Reset in Our Adult Years

By  |  4 Comments

I look around at my peers; so many of us are still scrunting. We can’t afford gas, much less a fancy, big car.

I am married with kids, and I’m lucky enough to have a modest home, just outside of London, better than some who can’t even move out from their parent’s house (if they want to), leave a too-small, rented apartment, or get onto the property ladder. But I see this problem resounding with all my friends, from Trinidad to Jamaica, to the States (USA), and other parts of the world. This is a universal problem, and we are talking about hard-working people with degrees – right up to PhDs.

…some of us did everything right

Yes, some of us did everything right. We studied hard, and got the A grades, and degrees, but still…we’re scrunting. Yet, I see someone who flunked out of university in England, eventually got onto another course, and barely scraped through, and he’s living it large in Trinidad – the house, the cars, the several expensive holidays a year.

So why do some people achieve so much, and others so much less? Career choice? Good university?  Good school? Privileged background?

Many think these are the essential requirements to making it onto the rich list. But I know so many who have ticked all those boxes, and they are suffering so much financially. They literally have to decide, pay a bill or eat. At that point you are perfectly justified in saying, “Is this it? Is this what I’m working my @ss off for?”

They literally have to decide, pay a bill or eat.

In our late twenties, my husband and I owned a large house outright. That’s right; we worked all hours, and paid off our mortgage. Several not-so-great, financial decisions a few years later, a business folding, a recession, and property losing its value, we were in debt, knocking on banks’ doors, and begging for loans, so we would not be made homeless. We survived, and are picking up the pieces.

My point is that there are so many twists and turns along the way that sometimes I think, is there any point in even having a plan?

Looking at a friend of mine, with a not-so-good family history, expelled from school at 16, dossing around in dead-end jobs for years, and ending up divorced and a single mum of two – on paper she looked set to fail. Yet, she decided to fight for the rights of her disabled child.

She is now the CEO of her own charity, is in demand as a speaker all over the world, is invited as a guest to stay with Hollywood royalty, and her charity has benefited children worldwide.

We would all definitely define her as a success. She did not have a plan, just a burning determination to fight for the rights of her child, and to ensure that no other child and their family had to suffer what she went through.

…the conventional plan is well worn, well trodden and way easier

So is the way forward, to follow your heart, and the rest will fall into place? I might have to give you a rain check on that one. Why? Because most of us are too scared to do that, the conventional plan is well worn, well trodden and way easier. Those who throw away the conventional blueprints are usually those with their backs against the wall, or those who don’t care about maintaining the accepted image of success, and have the confidence to create their own lifestyle.

For the majority of us, if we can timidly tread the middle road, and manage to pay some bills and scrape along, that’s the road we follow. But all the while we are thinking, “Is this it?”  Opting for a low-income, high-quality life, and long-term happiness works for some. For others, financial reward is the only goal they seek.

So what tools do we need to succeed, regardless of our different goals? 

Wisdom

For some, that comes only with time.

Patience

Slow down; snap decisions, especially those made in a recession, will come back to bite you on the @ss. Making a big, financial decision that could impact the rest of your future? Don’t rush unless you have no other choice. 

Listen to advice

Or even better, ask for advice, preferably from those who’ve managed to make a success in your chosen field. But ask about their failures too; sometimes the bigger lessons come from those. (Now you could be harden like me and don’t listen; if so, just man up when crap decisions come back to haunt you.)

Don’t be a hater

You don’t know what someone had to do to get where they are, and what cross they are bearing. Take a friend of mine who has a Porsche. The car was unbelievable, and I saw some people looking at it with envy. What they did not know is that he is a single dad to two, young kids, his wife has died from cancer, and he would swop his fancy car and money, in an instant, to get her back.

Don’t keep looking back at past mistakes, and saying what if

Use the lessons learnt, so you don’t repeat your mistakes. That’s the wisdom part of you developing.

The big one, opportunity.

Grab it now.

You see that job, and you think: “That’s what I always wanted to do, but ah busy. I’ll have to start over, ah too scared”. Stop. Stop with the excuses. Go out, and get that job, or that business opportunity, if that’s your dream, or a step in the right direction to the career and lifestyle you want.

Make your plan, and set your goals, but, in today’s economy, be ready to adapt and change your plan, if necessary, to achieve what you want. Don’t despair, if down the road, you still sometimes ask yourself, “Is this it?” You might need to ask that question every so often to reset your life.

 

Image credit: guardian.co.uk

Nicola Brooks-Williamson

Nicola Williamson is a mother to three boys (one with autism and epilepsy), a veterinary surgeon, a writer, and a charity worker. After hopping around a bit, this Trini has settled just outside London, where she lives by three rules: find the happy, keep dodging the bullets, and take life one breath at a time.

4 Comments

  1. Jaime Lee Loy

    Jaime Lee Loy

    April 16, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Wonderful and truthful article. I myself have been panicking about those things- the plans, the money, the landlord knocking on the door! Great insight and thanks for sharing!

  2. Liesl Semper

    May 6, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    The beauty of this magazine is the timeliness and truthfulness of the articles. The thought and care and the pushing of boundaries that goes in to getting folks to write their truth and share it with others is just what we need. Enough with the vapidity and nonsense that passes for magazine fare. All that to say, this article is right on the money.

  3. Karel

    May 7, 2012 at 3:44 am

    Awww thanks Liesl. That means a lot to us :)

  4. Daniel St Rose

    May 7, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    dam, wel aint dat da truth..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *