Be forewarned – this article contains feel good, ooey gooey type messages and perspectives. If you prefer to wallow in anger, frustration, misery or blame – do us both a favor and stop reading now!
In one week I spoke to two different people in two different situations. The first was a woman who proudly announced that after 17 years at her job she was quitting. I immediately told her “Congratulations!”
The other, the next day, was a young man who told me after six years, his position is being downsized. I responded with, “Congratulations!”
These were not sarcastic comments; they were heart-felt, sincere congratulations.
I have been doing career coaching for some time now and the one thing I have learned is this: every opportunity is a – wait for it – blessing in disguise. The first ooey gooey!
I know you are probably not bought in yet, so let me offer the most powerful example or “insight” that I can:
We stink at planning our own life.
There may be factors that you are really good at: what college to attend, getting the right internship, getting the right car, having the right house in the right location – yes, sometimes we can plan things out wonderfully and they even go according to plan.
But life does not work exactly according to plan and we stink at planning our lives. If we were so good at it, we would not lose jobs, lovers, friends or opportunities. One of my favorite sayings is “Man plans, God laughs.”
Life laughs. and laughs….and laughs…and laughs.
If we got everything we asked for – everything we plan, we would be miserable.
Remember that person you were madly in love with in your 20’s and you wanted to spend the rest of your life with them? You really dodged a bullet there looking back 20 years later and realizing they were a self-absorbed pig with no heart. Or that company that you were dying to work for that turned out to be a soul-sucking institution of self-loathing?
That pretty much negated the ooey-gooey, but the fact is what we want in the immediate is not always what is best for us in the long term.
Sometimes what we think we want is not really what we want, it is just what we have always thought.
Here is a good example and to add a little more ooey-gooey back in. If you were to ask my beau a year and a half ago about his ideal girlfriend he would have told you at least 5’8”, brunette, health nut, someone really into running with a pretty conservative existence, a bit shy or quiet – not someone to really rock the boat or be out there.
I am 5’, blond, eat what I want, when I want it, only run if someone is chasing me and am anything but shy, quiet or contained. There is absolutely nothing about me that met with his ideal; what he is to military guy I am to modern hippie, and yet we are blissfully happy – sometimes sickening so. We have formed a partnership based on respect and communication.
What we think we want is based on what we know. What we know is based on our past; it is solid. What we are is in the present and it is semi-solid. What awaits us is in the future and it is fluid. How can we use our past to determine what is best for our future when it changes based on the present?
Just call me Buddha.
But seriously, what were your life goals at 22? Have they changed? Have you changed? I wanted to be a lawyer with five kids. Well, that certainly changed.
I am a firm believer in this thing called life is not a test, a series of unfortunate events that lead to glimpses of happiness. It is an experience. It is a game that offers wins every day if we open our eyes. It is fun and interactive, like all good games should be. When we get stale in our routine, we lessen our impact and our personal joy.
That is when it is life’s turn to play. I would say it throws you a curve ball, but if you have good reflexes you are either going to learn to hit a curve or get out of the way. No, life plays dodge ball. You get one of those red rubber balls right upside the head!
Booom! Wake up
You’re out of that game, time to start another. But this time, you have to approach it differently so you don’t get beaned in the noggin.
Then it is your turn to play, you get to throw the balls back. You get to identify your targets and pick them off!
This is your opportunity!
I ask every single client, what do you want to do next – don’t tell me a job or title, what do you want to be doing. Many times they cannot answer that.
I get a lot of, “well, I’ve always done this…” Nope. What. Do. You. Want. To. Do.
We got stuck in adult. Adults are supposed to have all the answers, all the time, in every situation without hesitation. It is exhausting to adult.
Oh my, we were so entrenched that we have forgotten how to think about ourselves and what we want. It is like someone flipping on a bright light after coming out of a cave.
There is a lot of blinking, stammering and shielding ourselves from the light. It is finally revealed in an almost apologetic voice, “I don’t know.”
Good for you!
Seriously – good for you! That means you are open to possibilities. I want my clients to create a “no” list. Here are the things I do not want in my next position. Whatever it is that you really do not like doing. I had one client that had been a manager for many years realize that he really did not like managing people. Good to know. When we first talked, all he talked about was he should go into managing teams because that is all he had ever done.
Now, get your “no” list and start exploring. When you find something that gives your belly a little twinge, take out that no list and see if there is anything in there that matches up. If not, then go for it!
That little twinge, is excitement. It is joy. It is time you find it again and that is the reason for the red ball upside your head.
It is yours to find and own. The next job may not be all that and the bag of chips, but you know what, you went for it. You tried; you expanded your playing field.
Losing your job is giving you the opportunity to expand, explore, create and for goodness sakes, live! Look at that person in the mirror and get to know them again, what they like, what they don’t, what they have to offer and what brings them joy.
Stop forcing yourself into the misguided perception that you should have all the answers right now. Why do we have it stuck in our heads that it is an absolute must that we should have all the answers, every minute of every day for every aspect from what’s for dinner to what is our next career move. That’s right – we are doing adult.
Doing adult 24-7 is icky.
You may have to adult and take something that keeps that roof over your head and the bellies full, but do not give up on the twinge!
Here is the other thing about life – in the core of your life – it really is all about you. If you are not happy, how can you provide happiness to someone else? Yes, you have others depending on you and you need to make wise choices for what is best for your partner, children, family, employees – but what about you?
If you are a miserable person, how do you give them joy, inspiration, hope and confidence?
You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else. Part of taking care of yourself is asking yourself, “What do I want to do – if I could do or be anything, what would that look like or feel like?”
It may take a step or two to get there and in the process it may change; but do not think just because you have always done something that is what is meant to be, period, end of story. Your story is not over or predetermined.
Life isn’t a test – you are not required to show up with all the answers. It is a game that you learn to play and it is made up along the way.
I remember as a kid my friends would get together on the playground and there was seemingly nothing to play with – we made up games. We would create combinations of baseball, red rover, freeze tag and whatever else we could imagine. Just when we started to get the hang of that made up game, one of us would introduce a new rule.
Welcome to life friends, the playground got a lot bigger and the made up rules became a lot more fun – and rewarding, if you stop trying to adult every second of every day and listen to the kid inside of you wanting to find joy – and bean life back with one of those red rubber balls.
As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies and their leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.
Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about Career Polish and how we can help you.