It’s easy to keep functioning. Day after day repeating the same habits: brush our teeth, go to work, eat, sleep, meet people we love, and have a drink or two, maybe to escape from ourselves. But suddenly, something happens. We realize that our life is passing and we freeze.
Shit, 5 years passed already
I had such a moment when I was going to turn 30. I sat in a quiet mountain hut while looking at the clouds moving over the Alps. I had graduated five years earlier and for five years I was building up and working for WeAct, the social business that we started almost by accident during a sustainability workshop on the campus.
Realizing that already five years passed since I started WeAct made me shiver. I had not seen these five years happen. They had been extremely intense, but what did really happen? How different was I today compared to five years earlier? And if years pass so quickly, where will I be in 5 or 10 years from now?
I can make crazy dreams become reality
Five years after graduating I was not seeing myself only as an environmental scientist. I thought of myself as a “social entrepreneur”: I knew that I can bring an idea into life by getting people to join me into pretty crazy adventures.
But I had also worked a lot, burned by my passion for making a difference. I had taken up the sales role half-hearted. My mom and my dad had both been seriously sick and my sister let me alone in taking care of them. I was in a relationship I felt halfway satisfied with.
I was warmly surrounded by many amazing friends and recently discovered my passion for the wild: mountaineering and kitesurfing made me feel truly alive. I spend my weeks working hard and my weekends escaping to nature where I could regenerate. I was fine. But honestly, I felt exhausted.
In 5 years I would become extremer, but not fulfilled
I tried to project myself into five years from now based on the trajectory I was on. First I had a blank. Then my stomach cramped up and I felt scared. By sticking to the same strategies I had been using so far, I was going to become increasingly extreme: working harder and climbing higher peaks.
I saw myself becoming almost schizophrenic: rationally functioning and showing the face, I thought I should have, at work with clients, and searching for freedom, adventure and play during weekends.
I also saw the positive but slow growth of the impact of my social business. I imagined the numbers of the people reached on the screen in five years, but there was no warmth and satisfaction in my heart. The price I would have to pay for that impact felt very high in terms of “personal life quality loss”.
Was I really living the best life I could ask for?
So, was I living the best life I could imagine to live or did I put myself into a one-way street leading me to crash against a wall? That bad feeling in the stomach told me that something in my approach or in what I was doing had to change.
The place where I would have loved to be in my life in five years was a different one. I imagined myself looking forward to starting each day: working with people – rather than a screen, having lunch with friends, going kitesurfing in the afternoon and staring at the sunset while brainstorming about a new community project.
That thought felt like a dream: sweet and impossible. Maybe it was just a dream, but in any case, the present trajectory was not the one I wanted to stick on. That’s what I realized while gasping at the mountain peaks surrounded by clouds that had become pink as the sun was setting.
My life trajectory needed to change
That realization had been a turning point. My unsatisfaction with the situation I was in had touched the bottom and now the excitement related to the dream of a better way of living was sky rocking my mind.
I had no clue about what will come next, but now I could explore options: which type of changes could I do in my life? What could small and big steps be? What would I need? Who could help me to find out?
Even if I did not have a clear picture of where I was heading to nor how to head there, I had a clear feeling that a larger change would happen. And that realization already felt like liberation from something I till then, was not even aware to be trapped in.