Trajectory is a curve or path.
As in the case of a rocket ship, it’s a consistent and expected path. The old “what goes up must come down.” But did you know every life has a trajectory, too?
For many years it’s not unlike that rocket ship’s path.
When we’re young most of our lives follow a pretty similar path. In fact, in many ways our path is pretty much predetermined. Often without us having much choice in the matter.
As kids we go to school. Maybe it’s public school. Maybe it’s private school. Or, maybe it’s home school. But it’s pretty much standard operating procedure that between ages five and 18, we are in school. That’s just the way it is.
We don’t begin to take ownership of our own trajectory until after high school.
Still for many, the expected path continues. Ultimately, we all pretty much take one of two paths. We either go to college or we get a job. A few rare or rebellious souls make their own path by choosing to travel or embark on uncommon adventures. But for the majority of North Americans, it’s college or full time work.
The next destinations on our path are still fairly uniform.
Build a career, start and raise a family, and set about achieving the American Dream. Like lemmings we follow. Whether we follow others or what we believe is expected of us, we all tend to follow the same path.
When we hit midlife, things seem to change. Yet, it wasn’t always that way. In my parent’s generation, you worked at the same job until retirement. After retirement, perhaps you traveled, spent time with the grandkids, or just enjoyed the rest of your life as long as you could.
With my generation, I’m seeing a shift.
Baby boomers get to midlife and begin to question the traditional trajectory of life. They want to create their own path. A path that has more meaning. A path with purpose. A second career. A business. Volunteer work. Or something else.
Perhaps it’s because we haven’t worked in lifetime jobs like our parents. Instead we created careers by strategically climbing the corporate ladder, and more often than not changing jobs and companies many times along the way. Employer loyalty and pensions have all but disappeared. My husband has worked for the same company for 38 years. But that’s rare these days. Most of my friends and colleagues have bounced around, a lot. Just like I have.
I think through this process we’ve come to realize we can make our own way.
We’ve proven to ourselves we can forge our own path. We can change jobs or even careers and still succeed. We don’t climb one corporate ladder. We scale a series of ladders, jumping over and across, while on our way up.
Perhaps this instills a confidence we carry into midlife, when we are more financially secure, that prompts us to break away from the pack mentality and carve out the rest of our life in a way that feels more fulfilling.
Whatever the reasons, we seem to be breaking the traditional trajectory.
Rest assured there is no right or wrong path. Only what works for you. Make a choice, realize it’s not what you want? No worries. Change your mind. Change your path, until it fulfills you.
Whether it’s starting a business, going back to school, going to work after being a stay-at-home mom, pursuing volunteer work, or a personal passion or lifelong goal, the good news is, it’s your path. You get to choose it. And for many of us, after years of following the rules, that’s extremely empowering, exciting, and exhilarating.