Before we get started, please note that the title begins with an “A” not a “The” and that the rest of the title is deliberately not capitalized. This is not a thesis on “The Theory of Evolution” nor is it even an alternative view on the subject.
The evolution that this title refers to is the type of evolution that you need to initiate and continually experience if you want to live a fulfilling life and to pursue your hopes and dreams with purpose.
There is a long-standing debate on the topic of whether people, especially adults, are capable of change, as in the type of change that involves your personality and the traits that help to define who you are and what is important to you. Sometimes, the concept of change and that of evolution are intermingled.
I am not suggesting that you should try to change who you are, if you are happy with yourself and you are not someone who texts while operating a vehicle. In my opinion, a change represents a different direction. You decide that you are going to head east when you were previously travelling west. An evolution represents an improvement or a strengthening of the direction you are already headed. You have always gone west, but now you are going west a little faster.
I have no idea what percentage of our composition is innate and what percentage is learned, but I do believe that we are all our own unique individuals and those of us who figure out exactly what that means and then address our weaknesses and maximize our strengths will have a heck of an advantage over those who don’t spend any time thinking about that stuff and are content to stumble through life without much of a direction or a purpose. Building upon who you are is an evolution and one that is important enough to never stop.
As a student, if you take the time to figure out what subjects are of interest to you and which of those align with your skill set, you will be much more likely to select a major that is consistent with your future goals. If you take the added step of researching the job market for your intended career as a decision point along the way, you will be more likely to earn your desired reward for the hard work you put in as a student.
As you evolve from a high school student to a college student and, ultimately, to a full-fledged member of the workforce, your evolution will be purposeful and efficient because you have taken the time necessary to set your course.
If you select a major only to determine that, despite your best intentions, it is not the way forward for you after all, that’s okay too. Evolutions rarely follow a straight line nor are they symmetrical.
If you are already in the workforce and you feel like you have reached a dead end in your current career, it is important to figure out why that is the case. You certainly don’t want to make the same mistake again, so at a minimum you will want to know why it went wrong so you don’t end up inadvertently going down the same path again in a different career.
You may also realize that the stagnation you are experiencing is your own doing. Perhaps you stopped learning new things. Maybe you convinced yourself that you had been in your job long enough to know all there is to know. It is possible that you found too large of a comfort zone and stopped seeking new challenges. In other words, you may have stopped evolving.
I have often heard people express concern about retiring from their job. It is certainly true that some people are not well suited for retirement, but I believe that most people who worry about retiring are really worried about finding a new purpose. Sounds to me like a great time to continue to evolve, to re-calibrate. If you have found purpose in your work, you are already ahead of the game. Now, it is purely a matter of identifying the things that you enjoyed and helped to form your purpose so that you can find a similar pursuit in retirement. You did it once, you most certainly can do it again.
The objective of your on-going evolution is the constant commitment to purpose and forward progress, specifically your purpose and your forward progress. There will be times when you will feel as though you are not making the type of progress you had hoped for, but if you are following a plan that represents who you are, and that plan includes ways that you will learn from past mistakes, appreciate your life’s experiences, and improve upon past efforts; you will ultimately get to where you are going.
You may ask how I can be so sure. Simple. Your evolution ensures your relevance, your purpose, and ultimately your survival and you don’t have to wait for it to occur. You are perfectly capable of creating it yourself specifically for your own benefit.
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This article is part of Scott Arney's educational series, entitled The Serial Decision Maker.