Last year, a friend of mine got laid off.
I saw her a few days after it happened, at a Zumba® event. She was, surprisingly, excited. She'd been at her corporate job for almost seven years, and she'd felt trapped. She had allowed herself to become complacent in that position and she was excited to find something new – something more creative, she said, that she would find more fulfilling. She wanted to write. She wanted to take her career in a new direction, even if she wasn't sure which one.
I wished her luck.
I ran into her again a couple of weeks ago. I asked her how the job hunt was going. She looked considerably less happy and eager than she'd been a year ago.
She'd gone on endless interviews and had even been in and out of a few positions that weren't a good fit. Recently, she landed a contract position... doing exactly what she'd been doing in the position she'd gotten laid off from.
I asked her if she was happy with her choice.
She shrugged and gave me a sad smile.
“When you're desperate,” she said. “It's not much of a choice.”
I wondered what happened to the bright, joyful woman I'd seen a year ago.
Maybe she hadn't known where she was going. Maybe she'd been trying to find her way without a map. Or maybe she tried her best and it just didn't happen.
Failure happens sometimes. In the midst of inspirational Instagram posts and cheerful idioms that spread like fire on Facebook, that can be hard to acknowledge.
You've probably failed before, even if you don't want to admit it.
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'What does this have to do with me?' you're probably asking. 'I have a job. It's an ok job.'
Maybe it is. Maybe you make enough money to support your family and your commute isn't too long and your coworkers are nice. Maybe you're satisfied.
But maybe you're like my friend – unhappy, but too scared to jump. Complacent. Uncomfortable in your comfortably consistent job, where you see the same people and do the same things every day.
Because you know that failure is a possibility. If you leave your job, maybe you won't find a position that pays as well, or offers good benefits. Maybe the position you find will involve a really long commute.
Or maybe – and this is the scariest one – maybe, the new job that you find won't make you any happier or bring you any more fulfillment than the one you have now.
The journey of a thousand miles may begin with a single step, but it doesn't matter how far you walk, if you aren't on the right path.
Before you decide to make the journey to something new and fulfilling, you need to make sure that you're on a road that will get you where you want to go.
My friend started down a road she didn't choose, without a map or any idea where she was going. It's no wonder that she didn't end up where she wanted to be.
I'm not here to encourage you to take a blind leap of faith in the attempt to change your life – nothing worth having ever comes that easily.
I am here to help you draw the map to where you want to be.
Take a map.
And know that you're not alone on your journey, wherever you're going.