When things fail, there are countless reasons. But there are only two appropriate responses: evaluate the fallout to prevent it in your next effort, or take it as a sign and move on. The least appropriate response, just to be clear, is to sulk and mourn over the loss.
Our economy, our market – and, incidentally, our ways of interacting with them and defining ourselves in relation to them – have changed. Old standards that we took for granted have been replaced with new norms, and while some of us have successfully adjusted, the unfortunate reality is that many of us are lying awake at night, clutching the tattered remnants old dreams to our chests and lamenting the fact that we don’t have our own houses and a couples of little wailing mouths to feed like our parents did “by now.”
The fact is, somewhere along the line, we created that norm. As a society, we defined, sought and defended something that has only been “normal” for a few generations.
Life – and the meaning of it – goes deeper than the white picket fence, and it can’t be summarized in the simplicity (and, quite frankly, shallowness) of “The American Dream.”
Life is more that that. It’s about success, sure, and building relationships and lifestyles, making love and doing good work. But it’s also about being awake for it all – about looking around every day and being engaged enough to notice changes in our world – and the world now available to our generation – in order to identify what’s not working and opportunities for what may.
And when things don’t go right – including those “things” that we once held sacred – we need to roll with it.
So when your college degree doesn’t land you on the “right” career path (which may or may not have been your father’s) or you can’t save enough for a down payment or you find yourself baby-less at 32, you need to deal with that, accept it as part of our new reality, and adapt.
Be creative. Be innovative. Be your own generation rather than a replication of what worked before.