Every now and then, someone comes on my show and completely shifts my perspective. It’s both unsettling and awesome. Cecily Sommers did that.
Cecily is a futurist. (No, not a fortune-teller. She studies emerging trends, markets, and technologies, and consults with companies to shape their future.) But she wasn’t always a futurist who advises, speaks globally, and writes books. She began her career as a professional ballet dancer with a company in Chicago, then she became interested in anatomy and ran a chiropractic clinic. Now she’s a futurist.
When I asked her how she managed these big and diverse changes, she responded with something I needed her to repeat a few times so I could fully absorb its meaning. Cecily said, “Form always expires.”
She went on to say we are not meant to do or be one thing for the entirety of our existence. Our current status (our form) will become stale, boring, unfulfilling, and will eventually expire. This is not to say you have to change careers every few years, but you have to stay challenged. You have to keep growing and learning or else you will be trapped in an expired form.
And it doesn’t always apply to work. I immediately thought of my first marriage when she commented about expiration. I fell in love with my husband when I was 15 years old. We have history, and a few kids together. But it is true that we outgrew each other. The form of our marriage expired, and we didn’t do enough to nurture it. I’m sure we could have done a better job of growing together, but hindsight is always the great educator.
After my divorce, I experienced an enormous burst of personal and professional growth. My previous form had expired in many ways. Cecily went to on to explain the key is knowing when your form is expiring. It’s often a painful and scary time; change always is. But if you can feel it, she has even more advice. Cecily said, “This is what you do when you don’t know what to do… Practice courage, practice creativity, and practice optimism.” Think about it—when you are most scared, you have to be brave, when you not challenged you are forced to be creative, and when you are suffering you must believe better times are ahead.
What Cecily said wasn’t easy to do, but I loved hearing it. She lifted some of the guilt about my divorce—maybe it wasn’t 100% our fault. Maybe our forms expired and we didn’t have the skills to grow them back together. Maybe not knowing what you want to do with the rest of your life is okay, because the answer will change anyway. Cecily writes in her book Think Like A Futurist about how to identify your next adventure and how to plan your next steps. I hope if you feel your current form is expiring soon (or maybe already has) you’ll practice courage, creativity and optimism. I’d love to hear about it at email@example.com.