The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. This statement is often attributed to Albert Einstein, but wherever its provenance lies, it is undoubtedly a beacon of philosophical wisdom. I’ve conveniently applied it whenever I needed to stop doing something which was making me unhappy. However, not every situation can be easily changed when it proves unsatisfactory, and sometimes we need a helping hand.
Recently, I’d been wrestling with an uncomfortable truth – I was unhappy at work. This hadn’t always been the case. I had overcome high odds to qualify in a profession, which represented a childhood dream, and became a lawyer. That was years ago, and for the most part, it had been a fulfilling and satisfying career. The work was stimulating, the people interesting and I travelled the world. But, the sheen had subsided over time. Although there were windows of respite, these were mostly short-lived and it had become increasingly difficult to drum up enthusiasm for issues, which were repetitive and tedious. Frankly, I was bored and had been bored for years.
So the question, which percolated through my mind, was how would I navigate my path until retirement? As much as I entertained the idea of making a change before then, I knew I was fooling myself. I wasn’t going to walk away from the security I’d spent years building, even if it no longer satisfied me. Besides, what were my options? I wasn’t qualified to do anything else and in any event, I’d passed through discontented periods before and they eventually passed. The best course of action was to stop giving it any further attention and bury my head in the sand.
Interestingly, despite having a close relationship with God, I didn’t raise the matter with Him. I was worried He would expect me to change direction; reminding me (again) that life was to be lived fully. So, I glossed over the matter during prayers and pretended my thoughts were safely veiled from Him. I hoped that if I didn’t raise the issue with God, He wouldn’t raise it with me. And so it proved, until one fine day I walked into the office and discovered my role had been made redundant. Immediately, I recognised God’s hand at work. As I hadn’t had the courage to take a leap, God had given me an almighty push. Now, I was compelled to pursue a new path.
And yet, still I hesitated. After all, my identity and self-worth were wrapped up in my work. If I wasn’t a lawyer, what was I? How would society perceive me? How would I perceive myself? It took a while for the truth to dawn. I’d allowed myself to be defined by a label and the carefully cultivated façade no longer served me. I also realised (with relief), that I was liberated from the accompanying expectations. Now, I could move forward with a blank canvas and embark on a more fulfilling path – to discover my true self.