When I talk with people about their plans in life, I sometimes feel a bit anxious for those who seem to have too clear an idea of what they want to do. From my (admittedly) limited experience so far, it seems that the most important life changing moments occur unexpectedly, quickly, and often despite whatever-the-hell else we've got going*.
I think that people want to believe that the path we carve out for ourselves is mostly etched out with hard work and foresight. Maybe we can control some aspects in this way, but there's no accounting for how much luck plays into our various lots in life.
I was speaking with my dad the other day while out fishing. He spoke to me of how when he was in my position (young, searching for a career etc...) that he noticed a big difference between how he (Italian by birth) and his native Canadian peers moved through life. North Americans (according to my dad) are too pre-occupied with the future. The reason he feels that his Italian-migrant brethren did so well in 1950's era Toronto was that while everyone else was busy worrying about the future, he and his fellow countrymen were all much more tuned in to the present moment and making decisions around opportunities that were currently available to them. In his case, for the most part, this meant going straight to work in construction.
Dad chose to turn his back on the big business, multi-million dollar construction companies that many of his Italian friends would eventually build and run. Instead he opted to take his small business up north, building cottages and summer homes for the Italian community that had now become quite wealthy in the city. Having had the good fortune of meeting my mother, they built a nice house in a great area and I had a pretty idyllic youth there. Good on ya dad, good on ya.
One of the great things about the stories and anecdotes that dad tells me is that there is no clear 'lesson' that he drives home. These stories have lessons, no doubt- and important ones at that, but exactly what they are he tends to leave up to his audience. When I was younger I took this as a sign of his naivety...now my perspective is much different. I think there is something to my dad's 'build on what you have in front of you' approach to life that seems so simple when you hear the words, but in reality is so hard to put into practice.
My own life, lately, has seen its fair share of change. New place, new city, new people, new direction. Will it work out? Who's to say. There are certainly elements in this new shuffle of opportunities that I sincerely hope will blossom into something great, but, taking dear old dad's sage advice, I'll do my best to move forward with what does, and relent on what doesn't.
*This is not to say that I am fatalistic, or believe in any kind of pre-destination. I still think the world is essentially random. This is just to say that, upon reflection, the events that we ultimately deem "life altering" come at us in a manner that is different than we typically expect.