Mental Wealth: Keep sliding, or decide to start your own journey of discovery

When you fall out of a plane, if conditions are right, it doesn't feel as though you're falling... until you hit the ground. The same can apply to your career.

It's never too late to uncover your values and what you really want, advises Adrian Reith
It's never too late to uncover your values and what you really want, advises Adrian Reith

A beautiful man, just shy of 40, sits in my coaching room. If I were recasting Bond I would fall for this taller, posher, blonder and younger version of Daniel Craig. 

The affluent upbringing is clear in the easy greeting and body language. When he opens his mouth, the elite education is apparent. He’s charming without even trying.

He tells me about his CV – describing the string of jobs that makes the career list sparkle as "lucky". "With my bio, I’ve never failed to get an interview." I believe him.

But that’s not the reason he’s here. It’s because he’s hated every job he’s had since his early 20s. "I didn’t even want to go to university, I just slid into it."

This beautiful, lucky man has fallen so far through gentle pillows of air for so long he hardly noticed. 

He’d fallen in with his parents’ ambitions for him, fallen in with his friends’ ideas of success, fallen through life and space… and now the ground is fast looming.

Having unwittingly slid with other people’s values, he gave away to others the decisions about who he was to become. 

Despite his immense privilege, he had innocently let others decide his life’s tramlines.

It is only now, as he approaches 40, that he’s taking the time to ask himself: "What do I really want from my life?"

And, of course, money is a problem. 

Having so much money has given him a thick layer of insulation; it has protected him from being forced to examine what’s really important to him. 

It is only now that he is taking the time to ask himself: "Why has my wife left?"

Now that he can see the ground rushing up towards him, he’s in crisis. 

That’s why he’s here, and our task together is, hopefully, to turn crisis to catharsis. 

Bastard that I am, I love it when men cry in my sessions. I often tear up a little bit
also – it happens when people connect to the ‘Real Stuff’. 

My Beautiful Client sheds a tear and writes a single word describing the one thing – and this is for the first time in his life – the one thing he cannot live without that he’s been ignoring for so many years, at such great cost to himself and his family.


Now we’re getting somewhere. Now he can begin to own his reality – which he’s been ignoring for so many years. 

Some people seem to intuitively know what they need to lead a satisfying life and career. For many others, it takes time to decide. That’s fine… as long as they eventually do the necessary work to uncover their own values, and what they really want.

For them it’s a process, a journey of discovery. And it is never too late to start this journey.

I recently met another person who had spent his whole life denying what he knew to be true about himself: deep down, he was a dancer.

But now, fabulously and furiously – in his mid 60s – Charlie is a member of a professional dance company. His 50-year ambition realised. Decided.

"To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom," said Socrates.

Some are better at listening to their values early on. Others do the work as soon as the penny drops. 

So what’s it to be? Slide? Or decide?

Adrian Reith is an executive coach and co-author of 'Act 3: The Art of Growing Older'

Thumbnail image: ©GettyImages

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