My context shift

Have you ever experienced a change of perspective, paradigm, or context so significant that it literally transformed your life?  I have.

While trekking in the mountains of Nepal in the fall of 2009, I was walking with a friend and talking about a potential career change.  I was brainstorming all kinds of creative ideas (new jobs, business opportunities, writing a book, etc.) when he asked the question that changed my life, “Do you need to work?”  At first, I almost laughed at the simplicity and apparent naiveté of the question.  I didn’t know how to respond.  For some reason I wanted to say, “Of course I need to work”, but that wasn’t strictly true.  No one needs to work.  It is, like all things in life, a choice.  So I thought about it and then answered, “I assume so.  I don’t really know.  I’ve never really considered it”.  And so, I considered it.

Answering the question wasn’t easy nor quick.  It was six months before I emailed my friend to answer his question.  I replied that I could, with a reasonable probability, live a lifestyle that would be acceptable to my wife and I, without needing a job.  Notice all the caveats in that statement.  That’s because deciding to stop working is not a simple thing.  Despite what the advertisements for banks and investments imply, it is something closer to an educated guess than an exact science.   For many people, I suspect it is easier to just keep working than to even answer that question.

Although finding an answer took a while, the change of perspective was quick.  I needed only to open my mind to the most obvious scenario, the one that was staring me in the face.  In business cases, the status quo is almost always considered.  Potential alternatives are compared to one another, but also to continuing to do what we’re doing now.  But somehow, I was overlooking this.  Although I was not working at that time, my mind was so locked into the idea that I needed to work, that I failed to see the obvious.  I needed only to see things differently to realize a world of possibility.  Dream Big.

Have you ever experienced a context shift so significant that it changed your life?

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8 Responses to My context shift

  1. Annette says:

    I am a big believer in “whats meant to be” and I believe that you meeting and hence having the conversation with your friend was “meant to be” Having known you for some time now, I don’t think you do anything without considering everything that is involved. I am grateful that you had this ” context shift” because without that we wouldn’t be enjoying your stories from all your travels and life experiences.

    I have “experienced a context shift” so significant that it did changed my life. (I will explain it to you in person one day) I think I have at least 6 months to answer your questions!! lol.

  2. Linda says:

    “No one needs to work. It is, like all things in life, a choice.”

    Are you a bit bored over there in Europe? Trying to stir up some dialogue over here in North America amongst the workers? (Farmers, clothiers, doctors, builders of motorhomes, etc.)
    Chuckle.

    Thank you Patrick, your blogs are not boring.
    Love from Linda and Cliff.

    • Thanks for the comment Linda. We are definitely not bored. I´m so busy ´´not working´´ that I haven´t found as much time as I´d like to blog.

      I wasn´t deliberately trying to be controversial. I stand behind my point. There are lots of Canadians that aren´t working, and some who will never work a day in their lives. Whether by choice or circumstance, they are not working. Each of us have this option. It is a choice we can make, but many of us wouldn´t like the consequences of such a choice, and choose otherwise. But, it remains a viable choice. I find it helpful to remain aware of this. Whatever I do is by choice. It made getting up very early to drive to work in the dark easier. The idea that I chose to be there (and that I always have the option to do something else) is reassuring to me, whether I choose something else or not.

  3. Linda says:

    Hi Patrick: I was trying to be controversial. 😉
    And I stand behind my point too. Every one has the option not to work, but society won’t be “viable” if too many people choose that option.
    I’m not a good farmer … I can’t sew ….
    I’d make a bad cave woman. 🙂
    Please forgive me for “stirring it up” Patrick, but I figured if anybody can handle it, you can.
    I hope you’re having a great trip, and I promise to behave myself in all future blogs.

    • Hi Linda — When I write about topics other than just travel stories, especially topics that are more weighty, I recognize that I run the risk of offending people whose views or lifestyle are different than mine. It is never my intention to do so deliberately, but I could be accused of stirring up controversy. My goal is to offer my thoughts (hopefully interesting ones) with honesty and integrity. I really want and encourage other people to share their thoughts also, even if they do not agree with me (especially if they do not agree with me). I hope to learn from this process. So, stir away sister! No need to apologize. I recognize that the Internet, with its many advantages, has some disadvantages when it comes to communication. Lacking the intonation and body language of face-to-face or telephone communication, it is easier to misinterpret what someone is saying or their intentions. The exhausting detail that would be required to minimize this risk would make for boring reading. I don’t want to ‘tee-up’ or apologize in every post. So I hope that people will read what I say with an open mind and a ‘grain of salt’ and I will do the same.

  4. Linda says:

    Yes, very true Patrick … doubtless we would have a much easier time clarifying your “context shift” if we were face to face.
    And I look forward to being face to face with you in the future.
    All the best, and Happy Thanksgiving.

  5. wandy says:

    Yes, I had a life changing moment too…..
    Why have salted butter? Do I need salt my in butter? Can I enjoy butter without salt?
    The answer is yes young grasshopper.

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