Tuesday, August 24, 2010

When you've run out of things to Google....

I was on the ferry on the way back from one of the corporate yoga classes I teach in the city and had 30 minutes to kill. They’ve recently introduced free WiFi on the Manly ferries so I thought I’d take advantage and waste some time Googling randomly on my iPhone. One slight problem… 

I had nothing I wanted to Google.

This was a very rare and depressing moment, as if I'd reached the end of ambition; no ideas, no projects, no interest in world affairs, nothing... though I remember it happening once before in one of my more idol office jobs. What shall I Google today, I used to think on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday Thurs… ?

In the end I just checked the Guardian, wrote a couple of emails and, well, it was fine; I filled the 30 minute journey. On the way back home I stopped off in my new favourite Manly café (Cartel on Belgrave) for a fruit salad and a cheer up from the cheery folks there and as I sat down, there was Australian Vogue magazine literally beckoning me with one of its headline articles: ‘Losing your ambition?’ it wrote… ‘You’re not alone.’

That’s right I thought, and in the peculiar way that magazines, newspapers and blogs etc. appear to correctly identify lumps, bumps and great tidal shifts in your thought state, let’s call them thought-fashions, (or do they create them…I ask?) to the point that you can barely recognise who is in fact The Creator of this particular trend. I mean, I thought I invented the skinny jean/the movement towards social media etc. Is this making sense?

Basically me and this magazine article, we were on the same page. So, what did they blame the loss of female ambition on?
  1.  The Internet – too much time to Google. Without the World Wide Web we’d still be cleaning the house on a Saturday morning (along with our men, we’re talking empowered cleaning here); wearing dynamic suits, just the right side of sexy professional; and going ‘above and beyond’ in our jobs.
  2. Children – this is fairly obvious, but interesting that one sprightly graduate who they interviewed (hands still sticky from holding her hot new degree in Business and Economics) described herself as ‘human capital’ – I love that phrase; so excessively, lavishly… self-assured. Whatever happened to shameless confidence in our abilities, ladies? Needless to say other the group of graduates who were mums were generally a much more ‘realistic’ (depressing) bunch. Although I’d hazard it’s not the kids’ fault, I think it’s age that knocks the stuffing out of us.
  3. Drifting: Not being able to articulate/discover the ambition.

Without wishing to get too feminist, I must say this third one resonated a little too hard. Ouch.  One of the ladies interviewed (writer for New York Times, so she’s doing alright by the way) described herself as always vaguely knowing she would be good at something but not able to work out what, which left her hating pretty much everyone (because they're potential competition of course) but also vulnerable, as she was simply being tossed along, thrown in every direction. 

Do men feel like this as much? Statistics show that women come out of the education system with better class degrees than men, showing bountiful promise in the workplace, wearing their smart clothes and their ‘can do’ attitudes. Then, a few years down the line you find them like flotsam, (“goods that are floating in the water without having been thrown in deliberately” - thanks Wikipedia) with no real purpose, thinking ‘I’ll just bob around here until someone gives me some’. They say to be truly happy you need to be following your purpose. Trouble is I kind of think I am following it but then I don’t really know what it is.

When you feel connected to your ambition it’s like you’re soaring; you feel connected to life, the people around you (rather than hating them in a pathetically vulnerable kind of way... hmm) and filled with this glow of promise. What’s stopping us from feeling like this?

I’ve decided I’m going to try and write a book. There, I said it. I’ve ‘articulated it’.

Just gonna practice some yoga, finish some jobs off and then… my first chapter awaits me. Yikes!


  1. Well good luck with articulating that first chapter!

    But seriously, sometimes ambition is over-rated and leaves us restless and endlessly unsatisfied with where we are, leading to frustration and angst. Often the need for a goal or ambition is somehow expected of us by society or parents too, rather than bubbling up inside us naturally.

    I'm not saying no one should try anything, and just accept things totally as they are (though I guess yoga could be said to lead us to do just that!)

    But I do agree with you that taking the time to really find your path can make anything you do meaningful, and that really does help us feel connected, powerful and "on-purpose".

    I found my direction very very clearly in 1994 after a lot of work to find out what I wanted to do when I grew up (I was 34 at the time!!!)I was pretty surprised at the answer as it had absolutley NOTHING to do with what I had done with my life up till then either. And I finally acted on it when I was 40. I've not looked back since.

    But it's not ambition that drives me, just alignment to a purpose that is deeply motivating and inspiring to me (and was finally articulated clearly after much soul-searching and dreaming.)
    If others come along for the ride with me, that's kind of nice too as company is fun, but is not needed as part of any ambition on my part.

    Love to hear your outline for a book.
    Luv Mark

  2. Typically I didn't get round to it yesterday, but not going to give myself a hard time about that. Acceptance.
    I like your point about ambitions not necessarily bubbling up, though I think yours obviously did in the end! Thanks for your support Mark, really appreciate it.

  3. I am sitting on the ferry trying to find things to google and distressed that you have not had any blog entries since you've been away!!!