Happy New Year! It’s 2019, the launch of my new website, and the time when many people make New Year’s resolutions.

But should you? Well that, of course, is entirely up to you. Some people swear by a structured programme of goal-setting and every year create a series of plans mapping out their lives in the short, medium, and longer term. (If you do choose to do this, have a look at my upcoming blog post on Martin Luther King and the Wikipedia page on New Year’s resolutions and make sure your goals are SMART and achievable.) Some people don’t make New Year’s resolutions, having set and failed to achieve the same goal year after year after year.

Even if you don’t make formal resolutions, it’s not a bad idea to sit down every so often and think about whether your life is heading in the direction you want it to be, although when most of us are so busy it’s sometimes hard to find the quiet time to do this.

A few years ago, I was back in the UK for a holiday. The previous day I’d flown into Heathrow airport with my son and my sister had picked us up. On the journey back to my parents she’d said that she wished she hadn’t started working in the car sales industry as a young woman because she hated working so many weekends but couldn’t think of a suitably-paid alternative at this stage. The following day I was driving down to Stansted Airport to collect my husband who was elsewhere in Europe and I got stuck in a massive hold up on the M11. My son was asleep in the back of the car, and I had nothing to do but think.

I started by trying to think of things my sister could retrain to do while working in her current job but came up short*. And then I thought, what about me? I’d wanted to be a counsellor for years but had never felt able to do anything about it. I’d considered it when we lived in Singapore but it had seemed daft to give up a secure and well-paid job to train as something else. As the car crept slowly along, I thought “what if I could qualify as a counsellor and carry on working at the same time?”. The negative voice in my head reminded me that I was in my 40s and this would take years to do part-time, but I reminded myself that in 10 years’ time I could be 10 years older looking back and wishing I’d done it or I could actually have done it.

When I got back to my parents, I did some research and discovered there was a Masters course I could do at ECU, where I was already teaching accounting part-time and which is 10 minutes from my home. It seemed like fate and I applied. (I used to joke that I did the course at ECU as I already had a car park pass.)

Carpe Diem is Latin for “seize the day”. The phrase was popularised by the late, great Robin Williams in the film Dead Poets Society about an inspirational teacher in a US boarding school  in the 1950s. He tells his students to follow their dreams, to be extraordinary, to seize the day. Although the film has its share of tragedy, the overall lesson is to keep hopeful and never give up.

So, that’s how I came to be a counsellor and how I came to call my business Carpe Diem. Although I don’t do New Year’s resolutions (and I still bite my nails) I do feel that my life is moving in the direction I want it to, even if there are, as there are for most of us, frequent set-backs to overcome.

And if you haven’t seen Dead Poets Society, I’d thoroughly recommend it.

* A few years after this conversation, my sister left the car industry and moved into sales in a different industry. She is loving it, is successful, and has every weekend off to play golf. Result!

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