Last week, my older son called me numerous times. There was constant communication about how close he was to finishing his classes for his undergraduate degree. On Wednesday, he informed me that he was walking out of his last class. He was unbelievably happy because he had turned in all his classwork and he was done. You have to understand, this was a long time coming.
He dropped out of college after a few years in school. As you can imagine, we were not happy with his decision. To be fair, his grades had reflected his disinterest in school. It was very clear that he was not thriving and growing in the college environment. He decided that he would leave school, support himself and live on his own. He wanted to figure out what he wanted. It was not what I wanted to hear but he was an adult and had to make his own decisions.
I tried my best to influence the situation like any mother would do. We had long discussions about formulating goals and going back to school. He would say that he was interested and then nothing would happen. I wondered at times what I had left out of the “mom manual” for raising successful kids. Why didn’t he want to go back to college and succeed?
Time went on and he continued to support himself with a variety of jobs, making minimal wages. He was a hard worker and had no problem putting in long hours. But something must have slowly changed inside of him, judging from a story he relayed to me. He was having a conversation with his 53-year-old co-worker when he had an epiphany. He knew that if he didn’t make some changes, he could be that same person— an older man still working a $10 an hour job.
First came the announcement that he was going back to school, then his news about his engagement, and finally a great job opportunity from actively networking with all his customers. Everything seemed to change at once.
But it really didn’t change all at once. It was a gradual process of him evolving, growing and understanding what was important to him in his life. It was a process of experiencing life and coming to his own conclusions about what he wanted. All the mother-son discussions in the world wouldn’t have made a difference in the situation. He had to figure it out himself to make the needed changes. It had to be right for him— not for me or anyone else.
It’s not easy to change. There may be people in your professional or personal lives that desperately need to make some needed changes. I bet you can clearly see why they need to change and how they can get there. But here’s the truth of the matter: all the discussions in the world aren’t going to propel them forward. They probably know what they need to do in order to make this change, but they’re just not ready. Their discomfort in their situation is just not bad enough yet. It hasn’t hit the point where it’s more painful to stay where they are then to move forward.
They haven’t had their epiphany.