Henry David Thoreau has provided generations with much perspective on the need some of us feel at some point in our lives about clearing space to reorient ourselves and get the most out of life. Sometimes, it’s a feeling that life is not exactly on the right track, and we are perhaps considering a new destination that needs to be explored. In a very familiar passage from “Walden”, Thoreau writes:
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived… I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms…”
This passage can be seen as a calling, one that many of us feel as we mature in our careers and our lives. At some point, even when we’ve achieved many of the goals we set in earlier years, we come to realize that there’s yet more to be experienced in life. We start seeking those opportunities, and in living deliberately, we establish new values for what is most important in life.
Are you ready to seek out your Walden? It may be a sense of dissatisfaction with your current chapter or career. It may be the sense that there are new horizons you’d like to explore, either in shifting your career, or in how life is expressed for you outside of career. You may be ready for subtle or potentially more dramatic shifts that you believe will bring more value and meaning to life.
For some, embarking on more deliberate explorations of life might be a straightforward journey you can, like Thoreau, undertake yourself. If you’re highly self-directed, this process may be something you’re quite comfortable taking on. Others may want to seek out a guide who can help them navigate the new terrain that lies ahead.
No matter which path you choose, you’ll want to dig deep and discover – or rediscover – your sense of purposeful passion. To do that, you may need the equivalent of a Walden experience, where you create space to remove all the entanglements of life to this point and begin with fresh perspectives. For most people, a two-year stint in the woods won’t be required. There are other approaches to “disentanglement” and creating a next chapter that can help you imagine, and act on, a new path forward.
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