The week has been filled with near misses, almost events and wishful thinking. Snuggle into a rocker, and grab a cuppa. Let’s talk.
Have you ever noticed when you are after something you can recount your failure rate? How many times have you almost made it to the brass ring? It really is not because you are failing more at this one thing; It really is you are noticing the failure because you want it so badly.
By comparison, we fail at the things we really want with almost the exact same frequency we fail at more trivial things. The main differences are we are less likely to catalog the lesser failures and we are far more likely to accept a facsimile or lesser result.
The obvious answer is perspective; however, it is incomplete. The truth is value and attention.
Discounting obsessive nature, we are willing and able to compromise some goals. We are willing to settle for “almost” what we want. The easiest example of this is food. When we are craving a food, we often will accept something with similar ingredients or a dish someone suggests over what our initial craving is. We do not value the craving as our body telling us what it needs. We eat and consider this a victory rather than a failure.
Contrariwise, when what we are after will change our lives, we are unwilling to settle for less than what we want. For those who do not already have their dream job, carefully weighing the pros and cons of a job offer is a failure. In the end, we are taking the lesser of two evils because the job on offer is not what we want. The cons are fatal: not the right salary, not the right occupation, too much/not enough advancement opportunity… and the list goes on. We chalk this up as a direct failure.
How is it any different than not eating the craved food? It is not. The choice is still the same. The decision is one of taking what is on offer in lieu of nothing whatsoever, the greater of the two evils.
Can you honestly say the second-choice job is a failure? You are still getting a salary, the primary reason anyone works. The failure is not a clear-cut matter of perspective. Value comes to bear even harder than the meal choice.
Jobs require commitment of time and resources (energy, fuel, intellectual capital). We want more from our occupations than merely a paycheck because our investment is substantial. When we settle for a less-than-desired job, we consider it a failure as much as we would buying a lemon vehicle.
Many lament the role chance plays in their lives. Opportunities offered them are not within the scope of their dreams or desires, falling far below the satisfaction line. Although each case is different, some truths are evident. Opportunity has a funny way of being pushed aside.
How much of that chance is actually standards? Often, we do not take what is offered because the choice is beneath our standards. This is not chance dealing us a raw hand but choice. Have you ever taken what was on offer, and it led to something wonderful?
How much is merely desire? Being behind the wheel of a luxury sports car is a popular fantasy. Where are you going to put the three children in a vehicle with only two bucket seats? Failing to want what is necessary or desiring a completely different circumstance is chance being neither fickle nor absent.
How much is a consequence of choice? When opportunity is cloaked in requirements we cannot meet, it is no less an opportunity. Whether we are overqualified or educated in a different field, turning down an opportunity which is outside our comfort zone or requires us to learn different skills is not a matter of chance but choice.
What of sacrifice? Some opportunity comes with caveats and catches. For example, the dream job requires giving up the home you have fought to keep out of foreclosure and moving to a city where you know no one. It is no less an opportunity because you judge it more than you can stand to sacrifice.
None of these are chance. Each of them is choice. If we recalculate each of these as failures, we will notice they are not a lack of opportunity.
Some of the biggest influences on our choices are the people in our lives. Time and again, we allow those people’s opinions to mold or supplant our own. While surveying opinions before life choices is a good practice, in the end the choice is not someone else’s purview.
Occasionally, we choose without asking them what their opinions are. Have you ever said or thought, “BFF/Mate/Parent will hate this.”? No matter how well you know someone, assigning certainty to an opinion you have not sought is an exercise of assumption. Basing actions on assumption is foolhardy.
We cannot meet the needs of others instead of our own. Depriving ourselves of sleep because someone needs a ride to the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night before a double shift serves what purpose? It jeopardizes our safety and that of all around us. Donating to a heart-wrenching cause when we have no money to spare gets us where? In debt, not to put too fine a point on it.
Let’s be fair. Rather than beat ourselves up for not wearing the brass ring let’s raise the standards across the board and make choices.
Whether it is a craving, dream job, mate, home or vehicle, be specific and honest. The choices we make govern what opportunities are offered and taken. We do not have to abandon our dreams or desires; we do have to look at them with more scrutiny.
If we look at where we have settled for second-best, we can see benefits and learning opportunities which make first-choice easier to get or we find second-best was better than we ever imagined it could be. Nothing is wasted if we take the opportunity to learn from our choices.
Rather than settle for a burger because it is quick, invest the time in preparing the meal. Be kinder to the body.
Rather than dreading the second-choice job, discover what skills will add layers of value to the résumé. Be kinder to the mind.
Rather than lamenting the mini-van’s practicality, research a sporty cross-over vehicle. Be kinder to the inner child.
Rather than nitpicking Mate’s shortcomings to an ideal, celebrate strengths and recognize unsolicited benefits. Be kinder to the support system.
Rather than claiming no opportunity, recognize responsibility for making opportunity and suffering consequences of choices. Be kinder to chance.
Just some more food for thought,
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