Recently, my wife and I started exploring seriously the need to downsize our living space by about half and move to another location in California or Kentucky. This injects a tidal wave of chaos into our otherwise ordered lives, and I have been surprised to experience how much I feel energized by all this impending change. Familiarity is something that most of us strive for, but it isn’t necessarily our friend in work or in our lives more broadly.
At a weekend workshop several years ago, I met a woman who was struggling with the realization that she kept going into abusive relationships, because she had been abused as a child. There is a strong tendency to seek the familiar, but we often pay a big price for that approach to life. In my case, I stayed in the corporate environment in my work, long after I knew in my heart that it wasn’t nurturing me. It was only an unplanned retirement that finally helped me break out of the pattern that I was in, leading eventually to an increased sense of fulfillment as detailed in Growing Up After Fifty.
Each person has the opportunity to examine his/her life with courage and honesty to identify what works and what doesn’t, and to take steps to change the parts that are not nurturing. The unfamiliar may turn out to be a lot more attractive than we assume it will be.