I work with my clients on creating a vision for their future and going for it. I help them remove obstacles, real and imagined, take actions and move forward. But what happens when something unexpected appears in their path? Should this be considered a “distraction” or could it instead be an opportunity worth consideration?
It depends on what the “unexpected” is. There are all kinds of things that will present themselves and we need to determine the nature of what’s in front of us.
There are “distractions” or what I like to call “noise” such as other people’s comments, suggestions or objections. Most people mean well and feel they have something helpful to offer, and they often do, but sometimes it just adds to our confusion. We have to set our own boundaries and either not ask for advice in the first place, or when we receive unsolicited advice, thank them and let it go.
Then there are those unexpected opportunities. I have a friend who just gratefully moved back to her hometown. New York had worn her down and after living overseas for a couple of years, she decided to return to the West coast to be closer to her family. But on a recent visit to NYC she interviewed for a really good job and they like her. If they extend an offer, she has to decide whether to return to New York for the opportunity or stay with her original plan. It’s a tough one. It really is. So tough that it prompted me to write this post where I don’t have the answer for her, but I’m reminded of how sometimes it’s okay to go off course and give something else a try.
Nobody is keeping score. We’re the only ones that know what’s best for us. It’s important to quiet the noise to find out what that is.
Another example is a couple that I know who left one city to give another one a try, also to be closer to family. They wanted to start their own family and it made sense to be closer to the grandparents. One of them got a job immediately and the other had a longer search on his hands. After almost a year, she wasn’t happy in her new job and he was starting to make some headway, but hadn’t gotten a staff position yet. Then he got an offer on the West coast at a really good company. What now? This wasn’t part of the plan. He took the job. I really admired their willingness to work together on their decision, then pick up and move again. They were able to stay open and flexible while keeping their ultimate goals in mind.
I’ve come to love the Woody Allen line, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” I don’t think we completely understand that in our twenties or even our thirties.
We’re too immersed in making the plans and trying to figure out what the “right” thing to do is. But there is no “right” thing.
All we can do is consider the facts, clear out the noise in our heads, in whatever way we do that, and decide whether this is an opportunity or a distraction. But, make sure that it’s what we want, not what we perceive someone else wants or expects of us. It’s as simple as that.