Ever felt like you are at the end of your rope, and then lost hold of the rope altogether? Freefalling through life at a blurry, exhilarating, frightening rate, alternating with the feeling of being suspended in time, just treading water, like “nothing will EVER change for the better!” That’s how my last 6 weeks have been. A heart racing roller coaster ride up to the sky, suspended in stillness for an interminable length of time, then plunging dizzily back to earth. As luck would have it, I landed with a cannonball smack-dab in the middle of this fish pond.
Your situation will vary, but we’ve all been there. Or will be there. Or know someone who is there right now. I’ll share a few details, but it’s the process of breakdown leading to a breakthrough that I’d like you to focus on. In my case, it was related to a job search. For a year and a half I’d actively applied to more than 175 advertised jobs. After the first 100, I felt my confidence slip. Friends told me it was the economy. To just keep trying. In order to network, I volunteered, joined clubs, and let all my friends know I was looking for full or part-time work.
During the next 50 job applications, I moved out of the city to my current small town. Displayed arts and crafts at the farmers market. Met new friends and leaned on old ones. Had a handful of interviews. Picked up odd jobs. Got hired by the wealthiest guy in town but resigned after few months of wayyyy too much work-related stress. Doubt crept in as I wondered “Why can’t I find a rewarding job?” “What’s wrong with me?” “Why aren’t my talents being utilized?” and “Am I even necessary in this world?”
The last 25 applications were different. I was out of savings, inspiration, and energy and had nothing left to lose. With one last hurrah I put myself out there in a big way. Got clear on what skills I have to offer, the environment I’d like to work in, the people I wanted to share my life with, and the effect I wanted to have in the world. Went to the Department of Labor and asked for help in getting my name out there. Followed their suggestions towards retooling my resume’. Searched job sites on a daily basis. Followed up on every lead that friends suggested.
Then I got even more creative. Made a vision board – a collage with lots of images cut out of magazines, a heart-felt prayer, and list of words that described how I would feel when I’d found the perfect job fit. I read books like “Failing Forward”, “Lean In”, and “Enough, dammit” that reminded me that I was not the only frustrated person on the planet. I leaned on girlfriends who told me “We’ll hold you up” when I ran out of faith. I journaled and wept and prayed. Hiked and laughed and spent my last few dollars dancing.
Then it happened. I walked past this beautiful fish pond to interview at a local biotech company. The door opened, and one of my friends was on the other side. “What are you doing here?” I asked. “I’m here to help the owners interview you” she replied with a smile. This friend had already been sending job leads my way. I was glad I’d found this job and secured the interview on my own merits, but was SO grateful that she was part of the decision-making process!
Out of 128 applicants, two were selected to interview, and two weeks later, I am still pinching myself at my good fortune. My work in managing this office is easy and fun. I work for/alongside dynamic, generous, positive people. My office is spacious, comfortable and peaceful, with sliding glass doors onto a deck surrounded by trees and birdsong. The fish pond bubbles soothingly nearby. And, the intention I listed at the top of my resume’ is being lived out My intent is to contribute to a highly ethical, professional organization that serves humanity well.
Think: What challenges are you facing in your life, that seem insurmountable, like you’re just treading water? Brainstorm. What are the most logical ways to achieve your goal? What are other ways to get there? Are there ways that you have not even thought of yet?
Say: Get clear on what you want. Write down a list of qualities that you’ll recognize once your goal is achieved. Paint a picture of what it will look like. Describe your dream to friends and family in Technicolor detail. Ask them to help you get there.
Do: Do the things bring you closer to joy and into a deeper expression of the exquisite person that you are. Don’t defer your life while you’re waiting for things to shift. It is the living of your life that will shift things.