We live in a world where in one decade we have the potential to know more than those before us knew in thousands of years on the planet. This is an era booming in information, technology, agriculture, with everything coming at us in fast movement with expectations of fast growth. Added to the fast growth, are the expectations of kids today which are higher than they have ever been, forcing them to employ fast learning and adaptation to their surroundings. It makes sense after all, if everything around us is moving so fast, we must move fast as well to keep up. A kid who can’t adapt and keep up, raises a lot of questions, but mainly “will he survive the big world?” Yet with all the knowledge and the fast-growing pace we live in, we are still afraid of small changes as life moves on (after our youth and college years). This is an interesting phenomenon because we would expect that kids growing up in a fast paced environment would grow up to be used to fast changes. How then can it be that someone who is constantly changing, constantly learning new things, and taking chances- all of a sudden is scared of something new or even the slightest change in routine?
Up until after college and maybe even until our first actual paid job, our environment and community set the pace for what’s considered “the normal life plan”. If we take the average Israeli youth, for example- they start off in preschool education, then elementary and high school, National Service or Yeshiva or/ and get drafted to the Army, then maybe a post-army trip, and off to University. Basically, this average Israeli youth has his life set up for him till his first job. Throughout all this, the person’s pace has been quick and constantly changing without knowing always the outcome. What makes the person “calm” throughout all this, till that first job, you may ask? I believe it has to do a lot with the fact that much Israeli youth have a good network of support in that for most of them, parents or grandparents are contributing largely or paying for everything and serve as a safety net if they should fall in any way. Pulse it is something that everyone that age group is going through, and that’s the path everyone takes.
So what happens when we start our first job?
In our adult life, we each make our own decisions and need to live with the outcomes. There is no more “everyone my age is doing this”, because “everyone” begins to turn inward to their own professions, its demands on the individual, and their unique work and life pacing. Parents are no longer helping them financially, and this jettisons them to be a whole new type of person- one that is different from the past and here- here is where that young average Israeli transforms from a fast changer/pacer, to a slow and steady pacer or even more dramatically, to a person who fears taking risks at all.
A colleague of mine told me a theory and allowed me to share it with you. When people move to the adult world they become three types of people: the train riders, the car drivers and the walkers. We are no longer the fast-changing paced people, but rather the mode of transport we choose guides us through life. When we start life (are born) we are on a plane! No choice where to go but to wait for landing, to get off and decide what’s the next move. Ending college and starting our first job, is like the airport. The entire flight (our life till this point) is calm, relaxed, even affording a little sleep here and there. Once we land its mayhem- bags, security checking, passports but still we move with the crowd, we are all doing the same thing. Once we leave the terminal (college) here is where we all make our own decisions, and what’s normal for our age group doesn’t count anymore. Now is time to make our own choices, and choose our own mode of transportation from the terminal – known to us as adult life.
One type of person chooses the Train. A passenger on a train can choose to ride till the end or to get off at a specific stop. The train is comfortable, you know the stops and where they lead and you can choose if to ride it till the end or not. In life, this is a person who decides to stay in one of his first jobs because of comfort, habit, fear to make changes (small or big). This type of life doesn’t demand much more then they know now, doesn’t necessarily require more from them, nor does it offer more then what was promised. This type of person will ride the train till their pension, loving the job or hating it, as it were.
The next type of person chooses to drive a car. With a car you need to make sure the car runs and works, pay for insurance; you can make a lot of changes in the route, stop at lights, left/ right, watch out for other drivers but you always stick to the street. In life, this is a person that doesn’t make drastic changes, but is not afraid to make some. If not happy, he/she will check out other options, take on more than one job required (hagdalat rosh) and want to learn more. This person would love to be challenged, constantly keep moving forward (projects, job titles), and deals with the risks he makes as they come. This person checks his options, plays by the roles, and won’t make a move unless he has checked all the ins and outs.
The last type of person chooses to get up and just walk. When you walk somewhere, your path can be unpredictable- you can make turns, go through backyards, stop and check things out on the way, bump into people you know … In life, this is a person who is constantly making drastic changes in their life, changing routine, doesn’t have a clear path of what to do. This person doesn’t check the ins and outs of the decisions they make, and doesn’t know maybe even doesn’t care about roles. These people want to see everything, experience things, and not be tied down by anything while living in their own world.
In our adult life, we each make our own decisions and need to live with the outcomes. When we look at ourselves we need to ask: Do I feel like the organization/company and people I work with lifts me up or lowers me? Am I learning something? Is there potential growth where I am? Am I happy? Did I check all my other options, and is this the best one? What was the reason I took this job? Is that being accomplished? Look over these questions again, answer them seriously. Are you riding the train or walking and debating if it’s time to buy a car? Only you can decide your mode of transport, but make sure you are choosing it for all the right reasons (your reasons). Because in today’s day in age, the sky’s the limit and so is your mode of transport. Only you can block the fast pace of change. It is your decision. Rise up to the challenge and take it. Know who you are and take ownership- it’s your life.