Wher did the gap year go

Where did the gap year go?


I recently took a year out to spend time with my partner. I have always worked, sometimes self employed at others employed but somehow missed out on the obligatory gap year that so many  pre-university young people choose to take.

What I have learned from this late gap year is that it is not what I thought it would be, I wonder if anything is ever what we think it will be and that is probably the starting point for a different article entirely.

What I learned was that there are good and bad points to working, I am not going to recite the obvious ones, everyone knows them. Among the less obvious good points are the networking: the chance formally and informally to interact with like minded or like interested people and develop ideas, question beliefs, gain accurate information. Mostly that sort of interaction happens in work or with work colleagues and the people from the wider profession or industry of which you are a part.

I also learned that many people who do not have that sort of interaction can, if not aware, fall into being media driven. If you spend your days with a t.v. set as your friend, informant, companion you quickly start to think as it thinks.  I am not particularly talking about brainwashing by the media ( though that is an issue) but about the way t.v. is structured: to run a schedule, to present information in easily accessible ways; to be a visual and audible wallpaper that requires little input but encourages blanket acceptance of its “superior” intellect. How often have you fallen into the trap of thinking that because T.V. says something, you automatically accept it and without further thought move on to the next stage which is to adopt the belief: a dangerous habit in deed.

A friend or partner who is similarly influenced can double the effect on each of you: first you both hear the T.V. say something then soon after your partner mentions that thing again, perhaps adding the comment “There’s no smoke without fire” or similar. That comment compounds the information and makes it seem more real, immediate and now relevant to you on a personal level. You may think that what has happened to someone in a street in a town you have never visited could happen to you here and now. In reality the incident has nothing to do with you or your life but your brain has accepted information about another as if it were about you. This can start a sequence of thoughts  and, if you are not otherwise engaged, can dwell on your mind, grow and become bigger and more complex very quickly. The absence  of a self formed structure for life with or without work  is therefore  a threat to our health and well being.

A job has structure, it manages time it provides a framework and a support system to ensure that the job and the worker function efficiently. In general we respond to that picture and feel safe whilst part of it. We may snip at the edges of this view, complaining about the detail but overall we go along with it because it is part of life’s jigsaw. Like any jigsaw if a part is missing the picture is incomplete, we do have the option of cutting a new piece to fit where work might sit but it has to be the same shape, it has to be time bound, it needs a purpose and hopefully an outcome

What I learned from not working is that nothingness expands to fill that void if we do not cut the new piece of the jigsaw quickly. We can be happy that we have control over aspects of this new jigsaw piece, we can adjust the time  allocated to it, the function and structure that runs it and can choose the way we evaluate the success or failure of what we are doing. Basically we need interlocking structures to manage our life, if we are lucky we get  to create those structures balancing family, friends, income , leisure, education etc. to suit our needs. Others have to juggle the  elements in an effort to fit everything in.

Knowing that you need certain structures, learning how to make best use of them and then using all that to get the goals that you set for yourself is an achievement. It takes planning to get it right, it needs time in which to be planned and it needs your motivation to determine what it is you want from life. It sounds a daunting task: for some it is easy because they are naturally focussed and driven: the rest of us need to look at those people, see what we can use from what they do and then utilise those skills in getting what we want.

If by now your head is spinning come and talk to me. The simple step of recognising that you need to take control is the first of many; dedicating a little time and energy now will help you stop that drift into a vague nothingness that is full of fading dreams, lost opportunities and frustration. You can do far more than you realise, you have many more skills than you use and you have skills that you can use in different ways to make things more productive, faster, calmer, more successful.

An initial consultation can be between an hour to an hour and a half, we look at all aspects of your life: health, emotions, strengths, areas for development, chances you are missing, barriers that appear to be holding you back. From that we can chart a route forward, you can decide if you want to do this alone, if you want a reference point from time to time or if you want someone to guide you through the steps. There is a cost involved, as with anything in life but when you reach your first goal you will understand how worthwhile it is.

Why not email me  before you make an appointment, tell me what you want to do or stop doing so that our time together can be really useful and productive. There is a contact form here on the page for you to use today.

© Martin Williams 2013/15/16