When people think about their choices – if they think about them at all – most of them don’t seem very significant. We usually don’t remember what we had for dinner a week ago, what movie we saw 3 months ago, or even how we celebrated our birthday 10 years ago.
But once in awhile, there’s a choice that comes along that seems insignificant, but turns out to be life-changing.
When I was in college, as a Drama major, I wanted to spend the summer after my freshman year apprenticing at a summer stock theatre. For young actors, apprenticing was a way to learn the trade, get some experience, and get on the path toward earning a union card.
I applied to several theatres and was fortunate to be accepted by one. But, to be honest, I wasn’t all that thrilled. As an apprentice, I would spend most of my summer working offstage doing grunt work, and if I was lucky, I might get onstage a couple of times as a “spear carrier” – a role with few or no lines.
I confessed my unhappiness to a friend who was also an aspiring actress. She told me that she had been accepted to a young, non-union company where she would be in every show, and might even play leading roles. The auditions had already passed, but she called the director, who was willing to make an exception and meet me. He was pleased with my audition and offered me a spot in the company. I ended up working there for 2 summers.
That in itself was good, but that’s just the beginning of the story. Several years later, I did finally get my union card. When I began going to union auditions, I ran into Steve, a friend from the summer theatre company, who I hadn’t seen in a few years. He had been working with a union children’s theatre company for several years. I expressed my interest in being recommended to the company, and he said he would keep me in mind.
One Sunday, I was awakened by a call from Steve. The children’s theatre company had lost an actress and they needed an immediate replacement. I asked him when I could audition, and he said I just needed to show up at rehearsal that night and the part was mine. Thus, I began my 13-year children’s theatre career as Mopsy in Peter Rabbit, with many other delightful roles to follow.
And that’s not the end of the story. The children’s theatre company was like a family, and the core company became my friends as well as professional colleagues. We worked together, had meals together, went sightseeing when the shows went on the road, and celebrated birthdays and holidays together. Some of those people are still my friends today.
And that’s still not the end of the story! Toward the end of my tenure with the company, one of my fellow actresses, who had left the company and was trying to establish herself as a writer, suggested that we start a publishing company and publish our own work. I had been thinking that it was time to end my theatre career and was pondering what my next “gig” might be. I had started dabbling in some writing myself, so the idea was appealing.
And so, Excalibur Publishing was born. This choice not only made me a publisher, but also a published author, editor, and book marketer. It was an exhilarating experience that was terrifying at times, but one that I never regretted. When I moved into my next career – coaching and teaching – I supported my career transition by doing book editing for an arts-related book publisher and continued writing and publishing my own books over the subsequent years.
As you go through your life, you never know how a choice will play out over time. But looking back, you have the benefit of 20-20 hindsight. In thinking about my situation, I can see the hand of destiny at work, but I can’t help wondering what my life would look like today if I had made a different choice at that pivotal point.
Very often, the question comes up: Should I choose with my head or my heart? There are certainly times when common sense makes good sense. But balancing common sense with your inner guidance never lets you down. As a coach, I see that clients who ignore their gut feelings are the ones who procrastinate or resist doing what they say they want to do. Those who honor their inner callings are excited and inspired, even when facing obstacles.
Choice is complex, but with practice and courage, it can become a powerful ally in creating a life that will bring you joy.
About the Author:
Sharon Good, BCC, ACC, CLC, is president of Good Life Coaching Inc., and a certified Life, Career, Retirement and Creativity Coach based in the heart of New York City. With a rich variety of personal and professional experiences informing her work, she coaches artists to achieve their creative and professional goals and helps individuals from all walks of life create fulfilling lives, unique career paths and enriching retirements.
As an instructor, Sharon trains life coaches for New York University, The Life Purpose Institute, and the Creativity Coaching Association. She has presented personal and professional development classes for numerous organizations, including, most recently, the 92nd Street Y.
Sharon’s books, available from Good Life Press, include The Tortoise Workbook: Strategies for Getting Ahead at Your Own Pace, Creative Marketing Tools for Coaches, and her latest book, Powerful Choices, Powerful Life.