Setbacks Don’t Showcase Your Weaknesses, They Develop Your Strengths.
I was 27 and engaged to the man of my dreams. I was loving life and feeling as if each day was better than the next. How could life possibly get any better? We both had great jobs and met at the perfect time in our lives. It seemed like all the stars had aligned and my life was in complete balance. So naturally, what did I have to do? Shake things up of course! Instead of living in the moment I couldn’t help but think of the next thing, the next thing, the next thing, and how’d I plan for it.
Babies! I swear getting married makes your biological clock tick really loud for everyone to hear. I couldn’t have a single conversation about my husband and I without them asking when I was having a baby. Which got me thinking….my husband is 7 years older than me and my dad was 75 at the time, maybe they are right? What am I waiting for!? So I began questioning everything. How am I going to balance my career and family? Am I going to want to be a stay at home mom? Wait no, I’ll go crazy being a stay at home mom. Right? Than who will watch my kids? Is daycare really safe? If I stay home for a few years will my career pass me by? Hold on, do I even like my job?
I was at a point in my career where it was difficult to get to the next level at my relatively young age and I was getting inpatient (go figure). I was working hard, putting in the hours but my turn hadn’t come yet. How could I be a good mom and work at this pace to get to the next level? Besides, is there really such a thing as having it all? I was scared that it wasn’t all possible; something had to give, right? So I left the only industry I knew and put the last 8 years of my career behind me.
I decided that I wanted a more “flexible job” and the potential to run my own business one day. So I took an opportunity in PR and Marketing. All of a sudden I was working 12+ hour days, including weekends and holidays! It was so crazy that I would forget to eat and drink during work and was too busy to sleep, exercise, or spend time with my husband when I got home. What had I done!
I knew this new job wasn’t for me but I didn’t want to admit that I may have made a mistake. I was convinced that I couldn’t go back to my prior career and I was too proud and embarrassed to ask for my old job back, so I took a job at a small no name firm to get back into the finance industry. What a mistake that was! If it took me 6 weeks to realize the last marketing job wasn’t for me, it seemed like only 6 minutes passed before I wanted to bail on this one too. Improvement I suppose?
How did I get myself here? I felt hopeless and defeated and wanted to avoid all contact with my friends and former colleagues because inevitably they’d ask how work was going. I couldn’t bear to tell them I had 3 jobs in the last 4 months! I was supposed to be the stable, sensible one in the group.
Finally I got the courage to talk about my situation with a close friend and confidant. I will never forget our conversation. She said, “Nikki, why are you planning for a baby that’s not even here yet? When that time comes, do what is best for you and your husband; at that moment! Don’t get caught up in planning for the what-ifs and the maybes, because when we plan God laughs. Just focus on the here and now.” She went on to try and convince me to ask for my old job back. I appreciated the wise words and decided to start applying to companies in my prior line of work, but not my old firm.
Yea, still too stubborn. I couldn’t possible take ALL of her advice at once. I still wanted to hold on to my pride and figure things out for myself.
Once I gained my confidence back I was lining up interviews but nothing seemed like the right fit for me. One night, after another long talk with my friend I decide to contact my old boss. Turns out they just filled my old position and the person was moving down that week to take my old job! I was too late. Why didn’t I just swallow my pride and call them sooner when I realized things weren’t working out as planned? Well they say that fate will find a way…. I still owe Fate a bundle for introducing me to my husband, but it seems she came through again. I got a phone call from a former colleague saying they were hiring for my old position at the office near my house!
In the end I got my old job back and my life has returned to “normal”. The difference now is that I count all my blessing and remember these 10 valuable life lessons that this setback taught me:
- When life is sailing along smoothly, don’t make waves! Appreciate the calm while it lasts.
- Be careful what you wish for! Things don’t always turn out the way you planned.
- Live life on your own terms, on your own timetable. Don’t give into the pressures of society.
- Don’t be too stubborn to admit your mistakes or too proud to learn from them.
- Don’t let a setback showcase your weaknesses; let it develop your strengths.
- Have at least one friend that is older and much wiser; listen when they speak!
- Fate doesn’t ask what you want; it knows what’s best even if when you don’t.
- Sometimes we need to take a step back to see what’s right in front of us.
- Planning creates great roadmaps; just know that life is full of detours. Enjoy the journey.
- A setback is only as long as the time it takes to get back on your feet. So pick yourself up and try again!