One of the last books I read in 2018 is Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life by Ken Robinson.

Although I had this book on my holds list for a while, the timing of when it became available at my library did not evade me.  As the Near Year approached, it was a good book to reflect on the past and evaluate and plan for the future.

What are my talents and passions?  What are yours?  It’s a question that we homeschool parents don’t often get to reflect on because we are so busy caring for our families.

I am also turning forty next month so, for me, it’s not just a question for the New Year, but also one for a new decade of life.

Maybe it’s a mid-life crisis, but I keep wondering what I will do and become in the next season of life, as my kids get a little older and more independent.

It is a bittersweet thing to realize that your children are growing up.  The years I have poured into my family have been an investment, a joy, and a privilege.  I still cherish the moments I have with them—and I know that my job is far from over—but I also look forward to repossessing some of the old dreams that I have set aside and exploring new ones.

In his book, Robinson has a lot of practical questions to explore, to help the reader discover what her personal interests and passions might be.  He emphasizes that a person should look inward for new possibilities and also be open to unexplored options in the broader world.

Robinson highlights the life of David Ogilvy.  Ogilvy went from being a stove salesman, to working with British intelligence in World War II, to ultimately founding a successful advertising agency on Madison Avenue in New York, and authoring books that are still used to teach college students about advertising today.

What amazed me most about Ogilvy, however, was the fact that he took a break after the war to farm some land in Pennsylvania and live among the Amish for several years.  He tried something completely new, reinventing himself in the process, and then when he left farming he reinvented himself again.

“Ogilvy’s life is a striking example of how we create our own lives from many disparate elements, of how life is not linear, it’s organic. Finding your element means being open to new experiences and to exploring new paths and possibilities in yourself and in the world around you.”

Life is not linear, it’s organic.

This is a consolation.  I tend to be a planner and goal oriented. But sometimes I just need to begin.  I just need to step out and be willing to try something new and see what waits.

Life is organic.

“Because life is creative and organic, you don’t have to plan your whole life’s journey in one go. Sometimes it’s helpful to have long-term goals and some people do. It can be just as helpful to focus on the immediate next steps,” states Robinson. “Beginning the journey, and being willing to explore various pathways, can be as productive as setting out with the final destination in mind. Sometimes you can only plan the next step, but that can be enough to move forward. The important step is the first one. You need to begin. To set sail.”

Speaking of sailing, Mark Twain said: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.”

Are there more horizons to explore in a new season?

I have some ideas for things I would like to explore in the coming year and the coming decade.  They will take me out of my comfort zone, but I look forward to the possibilities.

I just need to begin.


Photo Credit: iStock. Following image courtesy of author.