"We must be willing to get rid of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us."
- Joseph Campbell, American writer and professor, 20th century
"The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you're willing to work."
-Oprah Winfrey, American actor and TV host, present day
Hmmm...so which one is right? These tidbits of wisdom both ring true, but seem to contradict each other.
I love the way quotes and pithy sayings, whether found in a book, a blog, or a fortune cookie, make me stop what I'm doing to swirl the words around in my head, trying to figure out exactly what is meant, whether I agree with it, and if I can apply the lessons to my life or to my kids' lives (they LOVE when I do that!)
I especially notice the ones about life goals, dreams, or careers right now, not just because I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to do "when I grow up", but because my kids are trying to make decisions that will affect the rest of their lives: "What college should I attend? What major should I choose? What do I want to be??" So these two quotes caught my eye.
I know who Oprah is, and obviously this philosophy worked for her. She's rich and successful because she sets goals and doesn't let anything get in her way of achieving them.
I didn't know Joseph Cambell, so I googled him (isn't the internet great?) I wanted to know what happened in his life that led him to his observation. I think it was the Great Depression - he was in his late twenties, probably with a good start on achieving his goals. I think he had to learn to remain flexible, ready for surprises.
But Oprah must have jumped on a few opportunities that even she couldn't see coming or have planned. And Joseph set goals, worked hard, and achieved them - he finished school, wrote books, taught classes.
So here's my take on their advice that I will pass on to my kids. It's not as neat and tidy as the other quotes, but I think I've packed it all in there ...
"You can reach your goals if you're willing to work, but remain flexible and open to to opportunities. Sometimes a lost dream leads to a better one. Don't let the inevitable bends in the road discourage you, but think of them as new challenges and adventures, new ways to succeed."