One of the very lovely things we do in our family is spend several days each summer at the Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, Connecticut. And, if luck is on my side, we get to be there on the 4th of July when the excitement is palpable.
What is unusual about this museum is that it is a living museum. Most of the ships in their exhibits are in working order, not able to actually put to sea, but they do have sails on their yards. The sail handling demonstrations are very real. You can even participate if you have a mind to do so. (I always do.) As a sailor, it is easy to put yourself back in the 1876 time period in which the museum is set. To top things off, there are also role players in full costume with whom you can have what passes for every day conversation, but of course is designed to provide you with knowledge about what life was like back then. (I have thought about getting myself a period costume for my visit, but perhaps that would be going too far.)
Like Williamsburg, it is supposed to be a replica set at a point in time. In this way as visitors we have the opportunity to put our present day life and experiences in perspective.
If you think about it, all of our life experiences, fond ones and not so fond ones, took place at a point in time when there were a lot of other things going on in our lives. We remember some of them and misremember others. They can be past glories or even times better forgotten.
The point is that recreating them is not possible. Unlike the living museums we may have visited, it simply isn’t possible to recreate your life. Life is always spinning forward, at times at a speed far beyond our belief. To allow yourself to hold onto past achievements or past glories as things you NEED to create is where I think I went wrong in my job search in 1991 and where I find many of our members going wrong today.
I listen to the stories of what they have done, but I focus on their dream jobs as described and I usually find them replicas of what they were most recently doing. I have often said that your visualization of your new job is unfortunately your last job on your last day.
In part, this inevitably leads you to disappointment. If your last job was one you held for a long time, chances are that even if the company went out of business, the technical aspects of your job with respect to systems and staff were humming along pretty well. As a senior professional, you are going to get your new job because someone can see your skills of great use in creating the same kind of sense of order in their MESSED UP organization.
Ah, those halcyon days. The office with the commanding view. The minions who catered to your every whim. The systems that worked. The secretary who knew your peers and who you wanted to see and who you didn’t want to see. All that is gone.
What you are left with is your future. What you want to take into your future are the TOOLS you have acquired in your past life, not the myth or picture postcard view of where you were.
The one bad thing about the past is that you can’t change it. All you can change is the future. What you want to achieve is a fluid view of how all the tools you have in that space between your two ears can be utilized to accomplish great things.
If I may quote Chris Limbert of our Westport Chapter: “Act like your best years are ahead of you.” Let me add my thought that “they are.”