Opportunity or Distraction?
So there’s this joke about a devoutly religious guy who hears a warning on the radio about evacuating his home due to a flood warning. His neighbours are leaving and tell him there’s room in their car for him. No, he says, go ahead. God will save me. The storm crashes on, the floodwaters rise to his porch and a guy in a canoe stops on the way by and says, I’ve got room in my boat for you, get in. No thank you, God will save me, carry on, he says. Again the water rises and he runs inside and up to the second floor. A police boat comes by the upstairs window and the police yells to him to get in the boat. Again the guy refuses…God will save me, he insists. He then finds himself on the roof as the water smashes against the house. A helicopter drops down and he’s told once more to get in, before it’s too late! No no no, he shouts over the roar of the water, God WILL save me! Off the helicopter goes. Moments later, the house is broken up and the man is swept away with the debris, drowning. Meeting God in heaven, he exclaims, God why didn’t you save me?? And God says, I sent you a car, a canoe, a motorboat, and a helicopter. What more could I have done?
Yea, I know, it’s ridiculous. People wouldn’t be that blind to opportunity, would they? They wouldn’t ignore an incredible chance to get all the things they’ve ever wanted just because that chance didn’t look exactly as they’d imagined it, would they? Yup. Absofreakinglutely they would. I’ve been that blind so many times. Turned away from amazing opportunities because I had expected them to look a certain way. And then I can’t figure out for the life of me why I seem to be forever stuck in the same frustrating circumstances.
I think a lot of the hesitation around seizing opportunities as they come along is the idea that, for those of us who are actively focused on pursuing our passions in life, we don’t want to get sidetracked by things that don’t further our plans and bring us closer to our goals. Which makes sense. I’ve definitely been on the flip side where I’ve pounced on every new idea or situation that pops up in my life, for fear of missing something great, and ended up spread so thin that nothing got done and I lost my drive to pursue anything. So yea, I’ve gone from one extreme to the other and back again over my lifetime and whether it’s due to age or experience, I think I’ve finally learned how to find a balance.
There is so much to be said for trusting your gut and listening to your intuition. With practice, you can discern almost immediately whether an opportunity is right for you or not. If I can look at a new opportunity and see a handful or more ways it would benefit me and help me further my overall goals and plans, I’m generally on board. Here’s an example…I’m currently in the process of building a business as a professional organizer and personal assistant for men. An opportunity came my way to work with a family, partially as a nanny, partially as a ‘household manager’ where I’m running errands, doing meal prep, organizing problem areas of the house, and so on. I could have passed on the whole thing because it’s not working specifically with men and it includes tasks that I don’t generally do with my biz. But I looked at the big picture and realized there were a few areas that lined up with what I’m doing with my business. It would give me practice going into someone’s home and working with them one on one. It would lead to potential referrals if I do a really good job. It creates regular, consistent income.
So yea, this opportunity was not *exactly* my ideal situation. But it has great potential to add to my skills, network, and income and that makes it so very worthwhile. So I went for it. Conversely, had it been just a straight up nanny position, I likely wouldn’t have jumped on it since the only thing I’d really get out of that is income, and while that’s important, it’s certainly not the deciding factor anymore. The trick, really, is to see opportunities for their full potential, rather than just taking them at face value and turning them down because they aren’t your ideal.