My 7-year daughter has a good friend who lives right up the street. Since this friend lives so close, my daughter and I will often walk her home when they are done playing together at our house. We usually take the same short route to her house but, last night when we were walking her home, it had just rained and we decided to take a short detour to avoid some big puddles along the way. To our surprise this new route led us to the perfect spot to see our first fireflies of the season lighting up the evening sky. The girls were delighted and took turns yelling and pointing out each new flicker of light to each other. It was a great reminder to me that taking the path less traveled can bring new adventures and unexpected joy.
As restaurants and stores start to reopen and many employees begin to return to offices it can be tempting, and even comforting, to try to return to “normal”. But maybe normal wasn’t working for you. Maybe normal wasn’t inspiring you. Maybe normal isn’t the place you want to return to at all. If doing the same thing, following the same pathways, and thinking in the same old ways wasn’t getting you what you need to feel exited and inspired by the work you do, now is the perfect time to try something new.
In fact, research show that taking detours can lead to innovation, ingenuity and finding unconventional solutions to our biggest challenges. I’m not saying we all have the luxury to quit our job and jet out into the unknown to find greater meaning in our lives (although by all means, go for it if you want to make that happen!). However, I am suggesting that sometimes we need to re-examine what we want for ourselves to find the work that brings us true joy and fulfillment. And maybe, just maybe, we should take a path less traveled once in a while to find something new and beautiful that we didn’t know was out there!
Tara B. Taylor, MPA