While living down under, we visited with a friend we'd met years before. Walt had raced with my husband, Jason, during the height of his adventure racing days, and the Aussie had left a lasting impression on us both. He was the most humble, self sufficient, and pleasant adventure racer I'd ever crewed for. Now, if you aren't familiar with expedition length adventure racing, imagine 5-10 days of non-stop outdoor sports with a map, a compass, and VERY little sleep. This, with 3 of your closest friends never leaving your side. (Because if you weren't close before, you undoubtably will be by the end.) Let's just say with a host of personalities all fighting exhaustion and physical duress, those racers are primed to be cranky toward their supportive race crews. But, not Walt. Even at the lowest of lows, he remained focused, independent, and most impressively, kind.
Apart from racing, Walt and his wife, Natalie, whom we were meeting for the first time, were an accomplished couple. Both owned their own businesses. He built a business scaling buildings for repairs and maintenance. She planned epic high end experiences. Their relationship was solid. Their kids were independent. They were seemingly successful in every sense. Even more so because they were down to earth, gracious, giving, adventurous, and happy. Success had not been handed down to them. They worked hard for it with focus and determination.
Throughout the visit, our slightly older and wiser hosts patiently listened to the frustrations we faced having become stagnant in life. They were where we wanted to be, so we were ready to listen and learn.
In addition to the grit and the focus, the mind mapping and the goal setting, this particular tidbit of advice of theirs is still crystal clear. "The choices we make are never final."
Certainly, not every choice will end in success, but steps, no matter how small, are still steps forward. (I'm paraphrasing them here.) So, if you find yourself heading in the wrong direction, (and here was my lightbulb moment, folks) you can change directions again.
And again, and again, and again...
The key was setting life in motion. The belief that any changes we made were final had paralyzed us from moving at all.
In retrospect, it was that moment that gave me the freedom to go for it. What did I have to lose? I wasn't enjoying design, but I knew I wanted to be working again. So what if I tried and failed? I will have tried. And any lessons I learned along the way, could be used toward my next step in life.