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  • Writer's picturePatricia Faust

Follow Your Dream - Even This Year

The start of this year has been nothing like new beginnings every other year. And because all norms have been shattered, we may not have approached our lives in the same way. At the beginning of the New Year, we take a hard look of where we have been and where we want to go. Past questions might have been: Have I accomplished what I set out to do at the beginning of the year? Have I met or exceeded the goals I set during this past year? Am I stuck in inertia – not making progress or even losses that I can analyze? Am I happy where I am in my life? The answer to the last question could probably determine how all of the other questions were answered.

But what about this past year? Are these valid questions to consider again – under COVID circumstances? In the field of Gerontology, we examine the life course trajectory. This simply means that our life will take a steady path to a defined end point. Everything we do in our lives supports the trajectory. If we get knocked off our life course trajectory, we end up in a totally different place than we ever imagined. Needless to say, many of us were knocked off our life trajectory this past year. Let me give you an example of this theory from my own life experience.

As I grew older there were some very stark reminders that I needed to change my trajectory. No matter how much money I made I was bored with my job and was always looking for a new one. The money always made a difference in my decision to stay or leave a job. This definitely wasn’t the way to lead a meaningful life. I had two auto accidents in two weeks. Aha, the universe decided to change the way I looked at everything. Money wasn’t giving me the satisfaction I needed to move forward in what I was doing. Now I was looking for my passion and purpose. What was I supposed to be doing to give my life meaning?

Throughout my brain aging and brain health studies, I discovered that we are hardwired to connect to other people. It is critically important for us to have our ‘tribe’. It increases our cognitive skills and introduces meaning into our lives. We are meant to connect inward also. By that I mean that we need to find our purpose and passion, the meaning of our lives. Purpose and passion energize and motivates us. We begin to see that our life is important on a much broader level, far beyond our self-satisfaction. Purpose shows us that we have a sense that our life has meaning.

My move to do what I love was really forced upon me. The auto accidents I was involved in kept me from doing the job where I made a lot of money. It was a crisis that I wasn’t bringing in the same income, but this time I thought about what I love to do and got the education to pursue that dream. I have to tell you I love everything about being a gerontologist. It has a lot of different levels of interest and I love every one of them.

Now, has the pandemic caused you a crisis of faith? Do you know where this sudden change is taking you? After this protracted length of time, you might be giving some thought that you need to make a change to your everyday life. You need to find meaning in your life again. Now is the perfect time to dream about what you would love to do – not what you feel compelled to do. Be open to ideas that you would love to do. Don’t put the barrier of money around that idea just yet. Start to get the feel of what would make you happy and fulfilled. If that feeling stays with you then figure out a way to move forward. Be open to the universe to give you direction. Your feelings will guide you to what you love.

In this time of so much isolation, anxiety and worry, it will take a leap of faith to believe what you feel. Our brain can create this new life for us or create so many barriers with the thoughts that we catch ourselves having. We need to have a purpose to feel fulfilled. At a time like this we have to believe in ourselves. Your trajectory changed this year. Your new path may be the best thing that ever happened to you.

So be optimistic about your future. Follow your dream.

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