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And Did You Get What You Wanted From This Life?

Written by: Hilary Rowland, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth.

Raymond Carver

So many of us looked for some kind of change over the last couple of years and some are still looking. People decided to move house and of course, there’s the Great Resignation which has affected people at all levels in companies. CEO turnover which plummeted in 2020 as companies sought stability amid the turmoil is now peaking, jumping nearly 20% in February 2021 of this year as burnt out CEOs seek new positions, according to a recent report from a business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas.[1]

But what are people looking for and did they get what they wanted? How did this affect you? One of the things that seemed to drive this desire for change was time to reflect during lockdowns, time to ask whether we were really living the lives we wanted to live. It is very easy to focus on something external, moving to a different location or job as the answer. Sadly, as some people are finding (and moving back to the city they came from), it isn’t always the answer. Sometimes it is. My daughter has moved jobs and is very happy in her new one.

William Bridges, author of the book ‘Transitions’ distinguishes between change and transition, change being external events, things that happen to us and transition, the psychological adjustment that takes place internally, what happens when we internalise and process the change. You could see changes of location and jobs as change, but those who want to move back to where they came from as not having experienced transition.

It all depends on the kind of change and motivation for change. There are two kinds of change, ‘towards’ and ‘away from’. Change motivated by ‘away from’ comes from when you’re feeling frustrated, angry or fearful and is great for motivating you to think of change and get going, but it doesn’t give you a direction. ‘Towards’ gives you a vision of where you want to get to and for effective change to happen you need both. I suspect the mass movement of people out of cities during the pandemic was a great example of ‘away from’; away from perceived harm, cramped living conditions when working from home and a bit of FOMO.

I’m sure many people are delighted with their move, and I wouldn’t want to criticise anyone for wanting to make this kind of move, but it is a good example of not only ‘away from’ change but seeing change in external circumstances as providing an answer to the desire for change. If it isn’t the change you were really looking for, you can get to your new place, settle in and discover that you don’t feel all that different and the sense of wanting change hasn’t gone away.

There are other different kinds of change might we want to make in our lives:

  • Changes of circumstance. There are times when we just need to move jobs, move house, make a change in a relationship and without that we can’t move on. Those things represent real obstacles and once we’ve made the change, it clears our minds and enables us to get on with our lives.

  • Changes of habit and mindset, are probably some of the hardest kinds of changes to embark on and make stick. James Clear has written extensively on this.[2] Researchers from University College London examined the new habits of 96 people over the space of 12 weeks and found that the average time it takes for a new habit to stick is actually 66 days; furthermore, individual times varied from 18 to a whopping 254 days.[3] You have to be very committed!

  • There’s another kind of change, when we sense we’ve come to an inflection point in our lives, some kind of crossroads. Perhaps we’ve experienced a difficult or traumatic life event such as a bereavement, relationship breakdown, a medical diagnosis which has left us feeling lost and adrift from our moorings.

  • Perhaps you just feel stuck. You hate your job, you don’t respect your boss, you’d love to move jobs but you’re too well paid where you are to be able to go anywhere else. You’re stressed, burnt out, on a treadmill, keeping up appearances but inside, you’re dying. Despite being financially secure, you still wake up at three in the morning, worrying.

Facing up to these kinds of changes in our lives requires the psychological change that takes place internally. When we sense that something has changed, that we’ve come to a crossroads, we’re either paralysed trying to work out which way to go or we thrash around trying one thing after another. It’s so much easier to be doing something rather than nothing for most of us. Sometimes what we need is to just stop. Give ourselves time and space. Crossroads can be important moments when the direction of our lives might be changed irrevocably. Such moments deserve to be honoured with our attention

Choosing one direction over another can have huge consequences yet doing nothing can be terrifying too. Sometimes we need to go deeper, question what the crossroad is about, what decision we are really having to make, what is being required of us, what our deepest truest self is seeking. What if we stopped to listen?

  • We might find we already know the answer. It’s been staring us in the face for ages

  • We might need to find someone to talk to, to give us a sense of perspective on our situation

  • We might need to find a way to take some time out, go away on holiday alone, go on a retreat.

A lot of the time we build our own prisons. All our lives we’ve been telling ourselves stories about how it should be, how we should be, how our lives should be without ever questioning the assumptions underpinning those stories. Added to that, there are ghosts, the experiences of failure, traumatic events, difficult relationships, unpleasant experiences which continue to haunt us, but on our own, it’s too frightening to confront them and we don’t know what to do when we do confront them, and so they go on haunting us, dragging us back. It helps to share them with others and get a different perspective. Could looking at them again and retelling the story help us to move forward?

Do you know where you're going to? Do you like the things that life is showin' you? Where are you going to? Do you know?

Do you get what you're hopin' for When you look behind you, there's no open doors What are you hopin' for? Do you know? Diana Ross

And how can you find the answer?

Hilary Rowland, Managing Director

Next Chapter Retreats

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info! Read more from Hilary!


Hilary Rowland, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine Hilary Rowland founded Next Chapter Retreats with her business partner Peter Hyson following an accomplished career, with more than 30 years experience in business advice, professional speaking, coaching and HR. She has worked with senior executives across numerous companies including the BBC, PWC, Academy for Chief Executives, and a variety of SMEs.She's passionate about helping individuals find their sense of purpose and then live it. They have had considerable success with their unique retreats over many years working with senior executives in groups, witnessing how effective the power of people working together can be on their personal development. This approach allows the creation of an environment for true reflection and exploration by taking participants ‘off-grid’, free from the distractions of their professional and personal lives, and with the time to work at real depth.



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