Most of the time, people continue doing whatever they have been doing – this is inertia, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. In our jobs, in our relationships, in our family circumstances, we continue to pursue the goals that we chose at some point in the past. To stop or to change direction seems unthinkable. Yet there are times when inertia is no longer a life-giving choice, when radical change is the best option – or the only viable option. The following five scenarios call for change rather than sleepwalking through life.
When what you’re doing is making you sick (literally). If you’ve been working for many years as a cashier and your wrists have been injured because of the demands of that job (whose physical strains are underestimated), it may be time to find another line of work. If you’re a high school teacher and you have started to experience unmanageable levels of anxiety every morning as you prepare to go to work, you should consider abandoning the classroom.
When opportunity knocks. Perhaps you have always wanted to run a second-hand bookstore. Then you’re puttering around at such an establishment one day when you hear the owner mention that she’s planning to retire. If you have just taken early retirement, with a good pension and a sizable nest egg of savings, why not consider making your dream a reality.
When you’re presented with a clear moral choice. The moral choice might be in the form of an opportunity – for example, to adopt the child of a sibling who has died. The choice might also be in the form of a request that clearly contradicts your personal values. Perhaps your manager has asked you to do something that is dishonest or dangerous – whether you’ve worked for the company for two months or for twenty years, you should never follow an instruction that you consider wrong.
When you’re needed. Sometimes others see in us a certain potential or ability that we ourselves didn’t fully recognize. If a parent asks you to leave whatever career you’re pursuing and take a leading role in the family business … or if a friend suggests that you run for political office – it’s worthwhile to consider the option and the need that it represents.
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When a new fact enters your universe. After 9/11 many individuals felt that something significant had changed in the world – and that a response was called for. Some people enlisted in the military solely because of this event. When something brand new enters your universe, it may call forth something new in you – listen carefully to the call.
Each person’s life circumstances are different, and it is impossible for anyone but you to determine when or if you should change your life. What is important is to open yourself to that possibility and to consider giving up what you’ve known in order to try something completely new.