Have you every really thought of the specific moments that have changed your life's trajectory? Really thought about what it actually was that got you to where you are today?
Maybe it's my age, or watching my kids grow up, or maybe it's just that I'm late in my New Years' reflections. But lately, I've been thinking a lot about these moments.
By nature I'm a planner. Give me a goal, and I will logically work backwards and forwards to figure out all the steps to get there. Many years ago I worked for the president of a small firm. Each year I was tasked with participating in strategic planning efforts, my favorite responsibility as the marketing manager. I loved the planning efforts because it allowed me to show on paper how “a” plus “b” would = “c” for the coming year.
This president hated my planning efforts. They weren't “opportunistic” enough. Armed with my business degree and a stack of projected outcomes, I believed he wasn't “strategic” enough.
Flash-forward ten years and I find that I am a co-founder of a company I had never intended to found, seeking funding I had never planned to seek, and creating a market I never knew existed. It's exhilarating, but certainly not the career path I had envisioned for myself.
How did I get here?
There are serendipitous moments that change the trajectory of our best-laid plans. The chance person we meet, the tragedy the befalls us, the inability to suffer through things that just don't fit our work or lifestyle anymore.
I can pin-point where I am now to very clear moments: a breakfast at a neighborhood cafe with a very chatty waitress who is now my co-founder, the birth of a child who prompted the need for a better way to work from home, a random conversation with a friend made at the dog park that pointed me in the technical direction of my business.
It is through these single moments we see things differently. We see different obstacles and opportunities ahead of us in ways we couldn't possible have seen before. Do we stay the planned path, or seize opportunities and chart a new course?
I laugh when I think back to my time at that firm. How I was so smug about my “by the book” strategic planning, and how naive I was in the importance of being opportunistic.
Webster's Dictionary defines moment:
a : a minute portion or point of time
b : a comparatively brief period of time
It's funny, moments seem so small, so trivial. Yet, I bet if you looked back you can pin-point the moments that changed your trajectory too.