If I were to ask you, “can you remember a defining moment in your life that led you to the position you are in today?” how would you respond?
Have you thought of it before? Maybe there is more than one?
There probably is…
For me, I can think of 2 very decisive choices I made that have really determined where I am today and where I now want to be in the future.
If you aren’t too sure what a ‘sliding doors’ moment is, it’s that moment in your life where if you choose to go left, your life will take you down a totally different path than choosing right. Sometimes you know it as you are choosing, and other times you look back years down the track and recognize the significance in the pedestrian choice you made that day.
And if that wasn’t enough of an explanation, there is a movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow based on it. It’s called Sliding Doors.
Sliding Doors Moments
The Job Offer
The first sliding doors moment of my life that I can remember occurred in the middle of my final year of high school.
I was 17, and my accounting teacher pushed a pamphlet across my desk.
For me, it was a chance to get ahead of the pack. A leg up in the ruthless competition that is ‘the rat race’.
It was a pamphlet advertising an open day for undergraduate positions at the biggest accounting and consulting firms in the world.
We are talking PwC, Ernst & Young, Delloite, KPMG, and 20 or 30 more firms in Perth.
This was my chance!
Throughout my high school years, all I had ever worked towards was to be rich and successful in business, to be a good provider, and to never have to worry about money again like I witnessed my parents do.
So I went to that open day, spoke to all of the representatives from the bigger firms, took all the giveaway bags with the branding and the promises of working internationally, listened to the keynote speakers, and dreamed of a life represented in all of the luxury magazines.
This was my ticket to the fast lane.
And I wasn’t wrong, this really was the fast lane. It was the expressway that picked you up in your first year of university and catapulted you to 30 before you could say, ‘I’ll meet you guys at the uni tavern after work’.
So, after a lengthy filtering and interview process, I was offered a few positions and took the job at the biggest firm I could find, PwC.
And the rest is history.
It was an invaluable and highly sought after opportunity. I learnt things at 18 years old that my mates are only just learning now at 24, but I also know that while I was slaving away on jobs I had little interest in, as I looked out the 20th floor window, I could see the university grounds where I was missing out on a lot of great memories with my friends that I’ll never get the chance to have again.
I don’t regret the choice I made at 17, but I do recognize that it changed my life. My story up until now would have been so different if that pamphlet had never crossed my desk.
The second sliding doors moment of my life came in 2012.
Ironically, and showing how all of our future is a product of all of our past decisions, I probably wouldn’t have had the chance to have this sliding doors moment if I didn’t take the job in my first sliding doors moment.
I’m talking about the trip of a lifetime to Africa.
It was my first safari, and I did it with my dad.
I planned it for months whilst sitting at my desk at work dreaming of adventure and excitement.
Since I can remember, I have had a keen interest in David Attenborough documentaries. It was one of those things my parents and girlfriend would buy you for you birthday because they knew it was a sure thing to make me happy.
Don’t worry, I was just as naïve and unaware of the continent as the rest of you.
I had no idea what to expect.
Would it be safe? How far away do the animals live from the cities?
What is the food like?
Luckily, going with my police officer father settled my nerves a little when arriving.
And, to my ignorant surprise, this continent is just as happy and liveable as the rest.
There are 1st world cities, 3rd world slums, amazing nature, and genuine, normal people just trying to get ahead in life, just like any other place.
Our trip went for 2 weeks. It was an overland safari starting in Joburg traversing through the heart of Botswana, and finishing at Victoria Falls in Zambia.
It was the biggest adventure I had ever had at the time.
And most importantly, it was the first time where I could confirm that the days and weeks spent looking and dreaming out the window at work didn’t have to define my life.
Maybe it wont be Africa for you, maybe it will be South East Asia or South America.
But all I know is that if I hadn’t decided to take a leap and book a safari to the wildest continent on earth, I still may not have experienced first hand that the world has so much more to offer us than a chance to win the everlasting rat race.
So if you are reading this because you are at work with nothing else to do, or nothing else you would rather do, trust me, it doesn’t have to be like this.
I was once you, and all I needed was a little proof that my life had the potential to be so much more if I fought for it.
If this is you, think about your sliding doors moments, and if you need one in order to change the course of your life, think of a way to manufacture one.
If it were me, I’d start with a holiday to your dream destination.
Because sometimes ‘seeing is believing’.
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- Can you recall the sliding doors moments that have determined where you are today?
- What would have happened if you had chosen the alternate path?