We often hear advice about making the most of our time, about taking action, about not hesitating or procrastinating any longer. Successful business people and motivational speakers write best-selling books extolling the virtues of making the most of our time. From an early age, we have been trained to not waste time, to get things done now, to be bravely non-hesitant. I’m not here to say that that kind of advice isn’t good. It certainly is, and I have benefitted from the wise words of others to that effect.
But what I don’t think is spoken of as often is the challenge of knowing when it is time to go, time to move on.
There may be things in our life that we have done and been successful at for years. That success has given us pleasure and pride in our own accomplishments. We have found our niche, and we don’t need to look any farther. But in the meantime, the world continues to move around us, and if we stay stuck in our comfortable place, we will soon find that it has passed us by.
I liken it to learning to tie your shoes as a little kid. It was a huge challenge. It made no sense at first—just a tangle of strings that your fingers could not tame. But you were encouraged to keep at it and at last came the day when everything came together for you, and those laces entwined themselves into a perfect bow. You were so proud! You tied your shoes for your grandparents, and all your aunts and uncles, and your neighbors. You became a veritable paragon of shoe-tying excellence! But, alas, even your four-year-old intellect soon realized that you could not build a life on shoe tying alone. So you moved on, and discovered you could write the letters of the alphabet, and read, and add and subtract numbers, and build a birdhouse, and on and on, from one adventurous accomplishment to the next.
As adults, however, it’s not always so clear when it’s time to go to the next phase in our life. Instead of parents or teachers to steer us in the direction we need to head next, we have to figure it out for ourselves. That’s the really hard part.
If we come to realize that everything in our life—all our opportunities, challenges, failures and tragedies—brings us an important lesson, it makes sense that with some reflection on our part, we should be able to discern when we have absorbed all that experience had to offer. It may be pleasurable. It may be fun. It may be comfortable, but we were not meant to be comfortable for too long. We’re here to learn and to grow and to move on. Always. Our life is a journey, not a destination.
I’ve always admired people who have achieved success in one kind of endeavor, and then just when we would expect them to be resting on their laurels, they pick up and change direction completely. They begin a new career, or move to a different country. A businessman becomes an artist. A housewife and mother becomes a business tycoon. The blessings of longer and healthier lives make it not only possible, but also imperative, that we reinvent ourselves perhaps several times along our life’s journey. We have so much potential inside of us just waiting to be discovered and put to new uses!
So the day will come when you must say to yourself, “It’s time.” You’ve taken all from what you have been doing that you can. If you stay longer, the world will pass you by. It’s time to go, to leave what you know and to chart a new course.
And so it has been with my life. I’ve been a student, a wife, a single parent, a secretary, a human resources professional, a speaker and trainer, and since I have retired, a paper-crafter and musician.
And I have been a writer of this column. It has been a beautiful gift from dear friends and colleagues who have allowed me to join them in their next big adventure. I have experienced the anguish of working to a deadline. Sometimes I have stared at a blank page for hours, with none but my blank mind to keep me company. Sometimes I have written as if I were on fire, and the words flowed from me almost on their own. I have known the thrill of seeing my words in print. I have been enriched and blessed by the comments of readers.
But there has been something that has been niggling at the edges of my mind of late. There’s something else, hanging there on the horizon, just waiting for me to make room for it to appear, and I’m feeling the imperative of that directive: It’s time to go.
So it is with gratitude and love for Darryl Doane and Rose Sloat and for all of the Life’s Journey family who have so enriched my life these past four years, that I must tell you that I have decided that this will be my final column for Life’s Journey Magazine. Thank you, dear reader, for taking this journey with me. I wish you continued opportunities for growth in your personal, professional, and spiritual life, as you bring your gifts to our bruised and hurting world. It’s time.