Recently, I was thinking about my life as a financial planner and wealth advisor and how the path to where I am today has been filled with twists and turns and unexpected detours. How is it that I started out on a little family farm in Iowa and somehow wound up in California as part of this wondrous company called Morton Capital? As a teenager, I thought my life’s path would lead me to teaching music in a little school somewhere in Iowa with a spouse, some kids, and a few pets. Little did I know how very differently things would turn out!
It’s interesting to contemplate the path that led me from those Iowa roots through a maze of possibilities and choices to where I am today. At so many different junctures in my life’s path, I could have made a different decision and wound up in a very different place. As someone who is in the last quarter of her life, I hope that sharing my unconventional journey might inspire someone else on their own journey.
Probably the most life-changing detour I took came when I was a freshman in college. An international musical group called Up With People was performing on campus and they were housing their 200 or so cast members in the college’s dormitories. Much to my surprise, the Up With People performance contained so much more energy and enthusiasm than I was used to seeing as a music student at staid student recitals. The lyrics of the songs also challenged the audience to not just sit back and listen but to actively engage and think about the message of the words, one of hope and personal responsibility.
Listening to the music and talking to the cast members after the concert made me rethink my straight line from the farm to being a music teacher. I knew I could do more. I needed to do more. So I took an enormous chance and attended a conference sponsored by UWP that summer in Estes Park, Colorado. That twist in my life’s path led me to California and, ultimately, to a career of listening to and caring for people to find the dissonance in their lives.
What is it that leads anyone to a career choice? Should we expect that our journey from grade school to high school to higher education to career should be a straight line with no twists or turns? Well, how boring would it be if art consisted only of straight lines? How boring would it be if music had only a single note? How important is it really that you go straight from point A to point B with your career or even your life? Maybe not as important as we are sometimes taught.
For instance, have you ever been on a vacation and gotten lost? Not lost on your way to the airport making you seriously stressed about missing your flight, but pleasantly lost in the countryside where you had a final destination in mind and all the time in the world to get there. I highly recommend it at least once. It happened to me in Ireland when my family and I wandered through some of the prettiest countryside you can imagine. There were sheep meandering down the road and we turned the car off to enjoy watching the sheepdogs work in perfect harmony with the shepherd. I smiled at my daughter and husband as we looked at the rolling green hills and agreed that it was one of the highlights of our trip. Instead of getting frustrated that the roads were not clearly marked, we stayed in the moment and took pleasure in what it had to offer. We looked at our map with the planned route, had a pleasant chat with a local, and found a different route to our ultimate destination. The sights, the sounds, the smells of the detour were all part of that treasured memory.
How lucky I am to have been willing to take a detour from my plan. How lucky I am to have seen how opportunities for women have evolved during my working lifetime. How lucky I am to continue to be able to enjoy the relationships with my clients and colleagues. By providing financial and investment advice, I’ve been blessed to have a positive impact on countless individuals and families.
When you think about your own life journey, there have probably been some twists and turns on your way to financial peace of mind. Perhaps you haven’t made it to that dream destination yet. My message for this moment is: try not to worry too much about where you are right now. As long as you have an idea of where you want to go, short-term milestones to keep you on track, and an expert to help you make good choices, you’ll get there.
Life isn’t a straight line. Enjoy the journey.