A friend of mine writes that she just can’t seem to get off square one. She’s very frustrated with her job. More to the point, she loathes it. She feels trapped in a situation that she helped to create. Though a longtime outdoors person and environmentalist before it was chic, she made a decision years ago to pursue a career in an entirely different field because jobs were scarce and she finally gave into the pressure to choose something “safe”.

The result: she has a steady paycheck, for which she is very grateful.  But she can’t deny  she’s miserable.

She feels completely stuck.


How well I understand. You sit at your desk, or your breakfast table, or whatever location it may be, and you feel invisible chains around you.   It’s a living anyway. It’s a marriage anyway. It’s the town you grew up in anyway. You can’t really change anything. Oh, you could, but think how much effort that would take. And what if you fail? What if you go broke? What if no one ever calls you again?

Faced with thoughts this huge, it’s no wonder you can do no more than stir your coffee or check your messages on FaceBook. It’s your reality. It’s where you are, and everyone else is doing what he or she really wants.



I remind my friend that it took me 20 years to finally make a major change in my life—and I didn’t do it before my 50s. And that truly, wherever you go, there you are. You must beware of comparing your insides to other people’s outsides.  I  have brought with me my bouts of inertia, insecurities, my moments of doubt and fear, etc., etc.

Yet, because I broke free of my own self-imposed paralysis, I also stirred up the forces of Nature that remain dormant until you make a major life change: new energy, new spirit, new enthusiasm. I believe there is some part of you that flips a switch when you’re faced with that fear of learning a new job, meeting new people, memorizing new pin numbers, figuring out streets and routes to grocery stores, doctors and the really important destinations like ice cream parlors and bookstores. The power is there for us if we choose to plug in. Goethe told us the universe would move as soon we do.

But it still can be so hard.

Just getting quiet enough to hear that tiny little voice inside us that tells us we can do it—that’s a challenge in itself. Why? I wish I knew. I wish I had trusted myself much, much earlier. I wish now that I could let go of some of the old fears that stalk the forest of my mind, waiting for me to trip and fall, scared and out of breath, so they can come out of the dark and encircle me.


One step ahead. Some days, several steps ahead. Other days, many steps backward. But just keep getting yourself up. Keep moving. Whether you’ve already taken a risk, or you’re just beginning to really formulate in your mind what you want your 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond to look like, you’re making progress.

As a friend recently said, “change is easy, committing is hard.”


 “Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.”

                                  Pema Chodron






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