I was chatting with a friend recently. He is about to move, change jobs, his wife is changing jobs, his oldest is going off to college, and his youngest is decamping with the family to a whole different part of the country. I commented that I've been at the same thing for almost 7 years now, and that is the longest I've ever really stayed moving one direction; that it feels like time to shake things up, or learn to move forward in the same direction, something, it occurred to me, i've never done before.
Six years of college, then move and start a career. A few years of working, dating, having fun, then get married, then move, new job. Then move again, have kids, re-create my job to fit. A few more years, totally switch directions careerwise. A few more years, we all move, new job for me, new place, new directions for the kids. Now they are finishing high school and looking at college - big changes for them, and for me and for us.
But I've been at the same job for 6 years now. I love my job. I have loved what i do all along - the changes were expansions, leaps forward, adventures with the possibilities, not starting over at something else. I know work isn't a whole life - but it is a part. In my case it has many frustrations, and I would love to sleep in many mornings, but it adds value, it challenges me, it stimulates me, it fulfills important parts of me. I want to keep doing this job, but i'm not really experienced at moving forward so long at something without changing directions. I'm not sure how to keep myself dedicated to this, re-committed and engaged. I'm worried I will coast and get stale.
Our marriage - it didn't follow a good pattern. For a long time it didn't expand, leap forward, or hold adventures. It got weary and tired and tangled. The changes we made were a huge adventure, a giant leap, and an enormous expansion. But it's been almost 7 years now. It's stable, and it's good. I like, no - i am so grateful - that i am much less mired in angst and doubt. But I wonder if I will coast, not be fully engaged without new challenges and directions. I absolutely don't want to go back to weary and tired and dull. I do really need to figure out how to move forward without changing directions, to remain committed and engaged and in wonder of it all.
My husband has supported every step i've taken. He has moved along with me, along with us. Some of the moves have been on his behalf, but not all. He has remained at the same job the entire time. He is absolutely excellent at remaining engaged and challenged. He sets goals and moves forward constantly and consistently. Shaking up our relationship when we did was a big change. The fact that he was on board was partly a testament to how desperately bad things were. He has moved forward with this with his characteristic focus and constancy.
Rather than think about my needs and my patterns, and how i have always operated, what I probably should say - what i probably should think - is that I will follow his lead and trust him to have the right answers, that i will learn to do things his way. What will happen though will be a nod to both our personalities. He will pay attention to us and keep us moving safely forward. I will find adventures for us. I don't plan out or go looking for all the changes, i stumble over them and decide to pick them up and see where they lead. And he will fold it all into our lives and make it work for both of us.