By Dr. Marie Gould Harper
Program Director, Management at American Public University
August has always been one of my months for reflection. I use the time to rethink where I am headed by checking in with myself about what I am doing with my life.
I think about a question that comes up periodically: Is there is a right answer for everything?
Last month, I saw an online exchange of opinions discussing whether or not to put your address on your resume. I was amazed at the number and types of responses. It was a healthy conversation involving different perspectives. That is what I believe the author, career coach Debraca Russell, sought from her readers.
In the context of career choices, the “right versus wrong” dynamic comes up when people debate topics such as:
- Survival versus passion
- Career versus overall interest
- Job advancement versus job enlargement/lateral moves
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Taking Charge of Your Destiny Starts by Examining Your Head and Heart
I’ve always encouraged people to take charge of their destiny. My style of coaching is to get individuals to write down the ideas that seem to run through their heads and hearts.
Make your ideas come alive by arranging them according to your current order of preference. What is most “right” now?
I am goal-oriented, so I usually work with people who have to make a “to do” list and a map of where they want to go in their careers and lives. However, as I have gotten older and hopefully wiser, I don’t take that task too seriously and New Year’s resolutions aren’t necessary.
What I Have Learned about Destiny and Life’s Paths
I see the “tree of life” as a personal metaphor. We are the trees. Our branches are the different paths that we take in life. All of the branches belong to the tree, so all of those branches can be seen as viable paths for life.
In addition, we have roots to ground us and those roots expand over the years. There will be times that we have to cut off branches because they have died. However, new branches (new opportunities) will grow to replace those branches.
Take the time to sit back and enjoy life as you travel the journey that is your destiny. It’s okay to occasionally think in the abstract, rather than find concrete answers to everything all the time.
The next time you have to make a decision:
- Look at the branches (your choices) and decide which path looks right for now. You will have the opportunity to reach another crossroad and change direction. Don’t think of all your choices as final. There are many ways to win the race and different paths to get to life’s finish line.
- Have confidence that the events you experience have allowed your roots to serve as a strong foundation. They form your character, determination and frame of reference for future decisions. Learn from the past as you launch into the future.
- Allow dead branches to drop off and out of your life. Sometimes, we hold onto things when we need to let go of them. Everything in life has a maturity phase; embrace the new buds as untapped opportunities that will present themselves in their due season.
- Watch how the branches intertwine. Life is an obstacle course with many twists and turns. Periodically reflect on your accomplishments and failures to recognize where once-blurred vision became learning opportunities and success stories.
Life is not meant to be about “getting it right” all the time. Rather, life is supposed to be lived.
We are all presented with choices. Those choices can make sense in the short or long term. As we reflect, we must decide what makes sense for the “now.”
Each day is a brand-new opportunity to explore what lies beyond the horizon. Never allow yourself to be placed in a box. Let your branches grow out and flourish!
About the Author
Dr. Marie Gould Harper is the Program Director of Management at American Public University. She holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Wellesley College, a master’s degree in instructional systems from Pennsylvania State University and a doctorate in business from Capella University. She is a progressive coach, facilitator, writer, strategist and human resources/organizational development professional with more than 30 years of leadership, project management, and administrative experience. Dr. Gould Harper has worked in both corporate and academic environments.
Dr. Gould Harper is an innovative thinker and strong leader, manifesting people skills, a methodical approach to problems, organizational vision and ability to inspire followers. She is committed to continuous improvement in organizational effectiveness and human capital development, customer service and the development of future leaders.