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Enjoy the scenic route

Suzy Bashford believed that if she worked hard, success would follow - then life got complicated. Now she is learning that peaks and troughs are normal, and a career is richer for them

When I was in my teens, at that pivotal point when everyone asks you what you want to ‘do’ and what you are going to ‘be’, I saw life as a conveyor belt. If I passed certain landmarks on this conveyor belt by a fixed deadline - getting grade As at school, getting into a good university, doing a master’s, getting a good job and getting promoted fast - then I’d arrive at a destination called ‘success’ at around the age of 30.

But, as I got older and life got more convoluted, I could feel myself slipping off the conveyor belt. I tried to grip on with my fingernails but, when I had a child and got postnatal depression, I couldn’t hold on any longer. I felt like my peers were passing me by, while I looked on from the side of the carousel like a piece of unclaimed luggage no one wanted: an underachieving failure.

I thought I was the only one who felt this way until I read Late Bloomers by Rich Karlgaard (Ballantine Books, £14.36). He had me from the moment he urged me to ‘get off the conveyor belt and find a new path of discovery’.

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