I used to think a lot about the future – where would I be in 5 years, what job was I trying to get, what did I want my life to look like, what vacation did I want to go on next. I am naturally a planner and very organized. One day I realized that by being so focused on the future, I wasn’t allowing myself to enjoy the present.
I had tunnel vision and my eye was on the prize,
but what was I trying to win?
It turns out I was under the impression that I had to suffer through pain to get to happiness. I was telling myself, “I will be happy when…” and I can fill in the blank with anything outside of myself. I had been telling myself that there was only one solution to my problem and that all of the other solutions might work for other people but they wouldn’t work for me so I wasn’t even going to try. I blame that on being an Aries, but at the end of the day I know that’s only an excuse to justify my behavior. So how did I realize I was doing this? Well, I had been here before and it started to look awfully familiar. I’ve joked about how my twenties were for learning the hard lessons and in my thirties I wanted to be wiser and not make mistakes anymore. Well, I won’t get into all of the hard lessons I learned in my twenties today, but I will say that earlier this year I was making some big decisions that were taking me down a path that I couldn’t fully commit to. There was something holding me back and I couldn’t figure out what it was. I think the universe was trying to tell me it was a bad idea, but it took me a few months before I started listening (and the stubborn Aries ram rears its ugly head again).
So how did I finally realize I was on the wrong path?
I was going through all of the motions to follow through with my original plans and to make those plans successful, but I mentioned I had a feeling it wasn’t right. I just wasn’t excited about it. I had been working really hard to get to this point for the last year and a half and I was surprised at how little excitement there actually was when the light at the end of the tunnel was visible. Then I ran into someone at a bar in New York City. I was visiting a friend at work who I had not seen in a while and an older gentleman sat down next to me. I was catching a cold and I had just worked 12 hours so I wasn’t planning on staying very long (there I go with the plans again). I tried my best to be invisible, but he started talking to me. I was polite and he was friendly so we started a conversation about life. He was from out of town and only visiting for a conference where he was the keynote speaker. I never did find out who he worked for or what he was speaking about. He asked me a lot of questions about myself. He started with, “Are you a model?” and I thought he was joking. Maybe the bar stool made me look about a foot taller than I actually am. Either way I said, “no” and he proceeded to ask me what I did for a living. I began saying things like, “I am…” and “I do…” and then I started saying, “…but I will be” and pretty soon I had recited my entire life plan to a complete stranger. Then he asked me what I enjoy doing. The conversation shifted as did my body language and I no longer sounded like I was reading from my resume. I even forgot that I was not feeling well and that I hadn’t planned to stay so long. At the end of my dissertation on everything I am passionate about he said something that I will never forget. He said, “sometimes the thing that comes easily to us is exactly what we should be doing.” I must have looked puzzled (I know I have no poker face). So he went on to tell me a little bit of his background. In the past he had worked a corporate job that he found very little joy doing and then he decided about 10 years ago to do the thing that came easily to him and he has never looked back. He was teaching that thing that comes easily to him during his keynote speech and he said he had not really prepared for the speech or written notes on points he wanted to remember to mention, he was just talking and it was all very natural. As he looked out into the audience he noticed that everyone was taking copious notes on everything he was telling them. He used this as a reference to explain to me that the thing that comes easily to him does not come easily to everyone else. I was fascinated by this new perspective. All this time I had thought that if something was easy for me then it wasn’t worth doing. I had made decisions up to this point based on what would be challenging because I know I am ambitious and I could accomplish it if I put the work in. I also thought that if I did what came easily to me then I was taking the “easy way out”, which meant I am less ambitious and less driven. This new qualifier changed things for me. It was the first time I had taken the blinders off and opted to explore whether or not the things that came easily to me also came easily to other people. Over the next couple of months I asked a lot of questions about why I was on the path I was on and what I was trying to accomplish. I will never know if my serendipitous meeting with this stranger was a message from the universe, but I like to think that it was and I am happy I was open to hearing it.
What comes easily to you is your unique gift,
the world is just waiting for you to share it.