If fate doesn’t disrupt your career path, you should do it yourself.

disruption in the freelance lifeI guess many people prefer at least the idea of a career path that doesn’t get disrupted.

I’m not one of those people. I’m a big fan of disruption.

Sometimes fate hands me a huge and unexpected change in direction, like when I moved from the UK to Canada.

At other times, when I grow tired of waiting for fate to step in, I engineer a dramatic change of my own…like when I shifted from being a direct mail copywriter to being an online writer, at midnight on December 31st, 1997.

When I look back, even to when I was a teenager, I was a big fan of stepping sideways at precisely the point when the direct way forward was most clearly illuminated. (Got a place at Cambridge University in 1975. Decided to get a job in a stone quarry instead.)

How come? Why do I insist on disrupting my “way forward”?In part because the clear and planned way forward is an illusion. Contrary to what people might tell you, we can’t foresee the future. This is one of the problems with setting long-term goals. You set them while under the impression that you know what the future will bring. But you don’t.

But I think the biggest reason for embracing and even creating disruption is because it challenges you. When you are kicked out of your comfort zone – or kick yourself out – you have to wake up fast. And it’s when you wake up fast that you become your most creative, and discover strengths and potential you didn’t even know you possessed.

A straight and flat road forward does not challenge you. It doesn’t make you dig deep and discover what you are actually capable of achieving. It doesn’t stretch you.

In fact, the straight way forward is kind of boring. It puts you to sleep. It locks your true potential in a box. It prevents you from growing as a person. And it makes you vulnerable to unexpected changes.

Are significant disruptions in your life scary? Sure they are.

But not as scary as blindly walking forwards and hoping the future is predictable and kind. It isn’t.

It’s better, I think, to embrace disruption with a smile, and ride the spike in adrenaline like you’re on a rollercoaster…hands raised and laughing.

Get used to it. Make it happen. Enjoy it.

That way you’ll be much better prepared for when life hands you an abrupt and totally unexpected left turn.

Better prepared? Yes. Because disruption makes you strong.


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2 thoughts on “If fate doesn’t disrupt your career path, you should do it yourself.

  1. It is a truism to say that without change we would stagnate. It is part of the human condition to innovate and improve. But even a varied and stimulating existence can become routine: the variations become less stimulating, and change itself becomes a sort of constant.

    When life grabs us by the scruff of the neck and lifts us out of a comfortable and predictable regime, we become either as scared as hell, or we sit back and see what happens in a resigned, fatalistic way or we immediately abandon everything and everyone for the sake of experiencing something new – like Mr Toad, who was constantly discarding the dull present and embracing ‘the future’.

    Whether we are strengthened or not by change depends on which of the broad alternative reactions listed we find ourselves having. When it occurs, I don’t think we have much choice how we react. The extent of the upheaval will be a factor, I suppose, but I believe it boils down to our genes – it is innate.

    Those who positively seek out change (such as yourself), I would suggest, are a rare breed. Even if life becomes dissatisfyingly dull, it takes a decisive vision, reckless even, to actively seek an alternative path. Much is put at risk, not least the agreement and support of others, especially those close to us, on whom we have in the past depended and who have depended on us.

    That French cliché, ‘plus ca change, plus c’est la même chose’ is both true and false, depending who’s life is taking a turn. Probably, most of us would be content if it was half-true – change, yes, but not too much, thank you.

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