The Road Not Travelled

I found my dream job by accident last month. I applied, the interview went great, I was short listed, the second interview went even better and then I got a call they were going with someone else. Now I hate the old job I used to like and the days drag on forever. You say sometimes we have to accept that life is harsh and other times we have to just change our thinking. Which one is my situation?

Lost Opportunity

Dear Lost,

412 Relax and Succeed - Remember that not getting what you wantI am happy to report that this experience is in the Change Your Thinking category. These are times when we must accept that life is harsh. And I mean things like finding out you’ll be in a wheelchair, or about the death of a loved one, or even a runaway dog; but even that stuff can turn out wonderfully. This? This easily has as much of a chance to be good as it does to be bad.

You called your current job your old job. Can you see that you (the legal identity) had not even finished the process to be chosen for that job and yet you (the ego identity) already assumed you had it? You had mentally left the old place in your thinking and you feel you have failed and are returning with your tail between your legs. But you never left so you can’t be returning. Plus you used to like this job so there is zero reason you can’t again, and you can do that exactly the same way you did previously: by paying attention to what you like about it, not how it compares to your fantasy job.

So you didn’t ever have the job so you didn’t lose it, but even then its potential to make you happier than your old job is entirely in question. We can’t just assume because it’s newer that it’s better. And we can’t assume that because it looked good at the interview stage that it necessarily is a good place to work. For all you know you dodged the biggest baddest bullet of your life.

412 Relax and Succeed - Just because something isn't happeningMaybe you avoided a company going down, working for a crazy manager, or maybe getting a co-worker pregnant at a drunken Christmas Party when you never went there intending that. Seriously. These and a billion other things might have happened. And only some of those things are enjoyable, others not so much. You’re not a prognosticator. You don’t know the future. So you have no idea if the thing you never actually lost was in the end something great or something terrible. So why would you think about it in the painful way you are when it could all be a fairy tale?

As you age and look back at your life a worthwhile meditation is to look at the causal effects of things. So stop to look at your blessings and then reel them in backwards in search of their origins. In most cases you will see that without something relatively “bad” happening, you never would have achieved or gotten something that you value.

You met your wife when your parents moved you away from your old school. Or you met your best friend working at your worst job ever. Or had your best summer working the hardest job you ever had. Or your best job grew out of your worst relationship. Or the death of your sister caused you to start a charity that’s helped thousands. This is causation and the entire universe is a giant blend of these relationships so you cannot ask for all Yin and no Yang because without the other neither is possible.

412 Relax and Succeed - Today's rain is tomorrow's whiskyYou’re fine. All this did was change your thinking. Now you’re comparing your daily life to an imagined life. Comparing is an egotistical action in that the comparison requires a you to exist to be compared. Whereas you used to focus on parts of your job and life you enjoyed, now you’re using your thinking to compare how the other job might have been better.

First off, you’re almost certainly wrong because why would we assume you could guess the culture and personalities you’d be working with? And secondly; you used to like your job. So then pay attention to it like you used to and you’ll like it again. You’re just spending your day wanting instead of appreciating. Don’t blame your job for that.

This is no big deal. Use it as a spiritual lesson. Because in all seriousness, that really could have turned out to be the worst job you’ve ever had. Remember, the divorce rate is close to 50% and that’s between people who chose to be together forever. What we imagine is good for us is wrong in all kinds of cases in life. So forget those thin, maybe thoughts and get back to focusing on the day in front of you. Trust me, there’s plenty to make life worth it right there.

Create yourself a great day by focusing your thinking on things you appreciate and not on comparing. Any time you feel good that’s what you’re doing: appreciating, so it’s not like you don’t have experience doing it. Go for it.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

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