A couple of days ago I was catching up with one of my former clients and she was relating how strange life is as she took stock of her achievements against what she had set out to do. What was particularly interesting was that she had met some of her goals but through channels she had vowed never to follow. What she found strange was her altered perspective on things she had previously fought and resisted so hard back then but was now embracing.
The whole thing really got me pondering about whether we are really open minded when it comes to what we want and how we hope to get it. A lot of people have an idea of what they would like to achieve this year for instance. Most have a generally solid plan on how to go about it. But what happens when your plan doesn’t go the way you expected it to? Or within the timelines you set for it?
My husband has this maxim that tends to rile me up quite a bit. He says that nothing good has ever come easy for him. I am always trying to get him to stop saying this or at least change the way he says it because I am convinced that he’s only attracting more negativity and difficulty. I am clearly a very strong advocate of the law of attraction.
Looking back at my life in general though, it occurred to me that there is some truth to that statement. I may not agree with the way its phrased, but even scriptures advise us to wait on God’s timing – which is (in) conveniently miles apart from our own impatient plans. We plan and God laughs, right? Seriously though, all the stuff I have in my life that’s worth speaking about came through with quite a bit of sweat and blood. It certainly did not happen overnight and I almost felt like I had to prove I was worthy before it came to me. And the most interesting thing I noticed – most of the things came to me when I stopped chasing after them.
I’ll give you a classic example. I always wanted to settle down. Right from campus, I had the perfect plan, the perfect man and what I thought was the right timing. (And don’t shake your head at me; we all know people who got married right off campus and they worked out, so why not me). Well that plan blew up right in my face and I ended up alone and rather bitter. However that did not deter me from my goal. I was determined to settle down, obsessed probably. What followed was a decade of chasing men (yes I was a shameless hunter), trying to convince each to settle down and watching them take off in a cloud of dust once they realized I was only interested in the “picket fence” dream. You know, the toothpaste ad – good looking husband, both of us with great jobs, two great looking children (a boy and a girl) and a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence. Go ahead and laugh but you would be surprised how many people are secretly longing for that.
The rejection was tough but I continued undeterred and convinced that if I only stuck with my plan for long enough and didn’t give up then my goal would eventually be achieved. Well, one day after a particularly tough year filled with rejections, I just gave up. Not on the goal. But on that plan. I realized my plan wasn’t working and I was tired of doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result (definition of insanity according to Albert Einstein). And because I did not really have a backup plan I decided that maybe I would just try doing absolutely nothing and see where that got me. I also stopped focusing on it and decided to enjoy my own company and realized that I had gotten so caught up in obsessing about being with someone that I had never really learnt how to have fun on my own.
Then Boom! You guessed it. As soon I stopped looking for him, he materialized. And get this for laughs. He had been there all along. Just not available; hence why I had never hunted him down. Isn’t life hysterical? And he came ridden with loads of baggage which was on my avoid-at-all-costs list. So obviously I fought it at first thinking there was no way it was going to work. Because it never fit in with my plan. But since I had given up on my plan I thought what the heck, I might as well try it out, after all what did I have to lose. I could always go back to my own wonderful company if it didn’t work out. To cut an already very long story short, three years after we started dating my dream was finally realized. Without all the frills in the toothpaste ad though – I’m still hankering after a house in the suburbs.
This is just one example but my life is full of these. My job, each and every one of my promotions, some of my acquisitions, my passion for coaching and mentoring…..I could go on and on. They literally came when I least expected it and when I stopped chasing after them.
When I thought critically about it, I realized that it’s very rarely that you get what you want at the exact time that you asked for it. The best analogy I could use is that of a diamond. (Yes its cliché but please work with me). A diamond is just carbon which when subjected to very intense heat and pressure becomes the most precious gemstone not to mention the hardest known mineral on earth. This formation obviously doesn’t happen overnight, nor does it come without a price. Should the heat or pressure be any less than ideal it ends up as graphite which is what you find in a pencil. Enough technical stuff, you can Google for yourself.
My point is simply this. The things in life worth having are usually worth waiting for. And preparing intensely for. And we tend to appreciate them way more than the ones that came easy. How else do you explain situations where people suddenly acquire huge sums of money (could be an inheritance, lucky winner or just plain robbery) and basically blow all the money in a few months, leaving them worse than they were before? I imagine it has something to do with the fact that they were not prepared for their windfall.
The only thing worse than not getting what you want, is getting it at the wrong time. I have learnt that this can be so bad that it can potentially make you discard your goal altogether, yet there was nothing wrong with your goal. I have also learnt that life has a way of messing with your plans. You may still achieve your goal but via the long scenic route that you were avoiding and not your best-laid plan shortest route possible. Inevitably along the way you may even become frustrated and give up thinking that it’s just not worth the sweat and tears.
The greatest lesson I have learnt though, is that as long as you stay focused on the goal and don’t get caught up in the details of how it’s not fitting in your plan, eventually you will get there. And with your blood pressure remarkably intact. What matters in the end is how open minded you can be and how well you can adjust to the curve balls that life just loves to throw in the face of our plans.
All that being said, I’ll tell you one more thing. The journey will definitely not be easy. I can assure you though; it will be more than worth the wait.