When It's Just Not Happening
(Part 5 in the series: Can You Make It Happen?)
In part 4, I stated that consciously placing your trust where you believe it is warranted will give you a sense of calm even when the world around you is upset. But what do you do when you've been waiting for proof of progress and you don't see any?
Where's the Proof?
It's great to talk about trust but is there anything wrong with wanting to see some proof of progress? Of course not. Noticing the results you're getting is critical to understanding what to do next and where to adjust your strategy. When you really want something and it doesn't seem to be happening, what can you conclude? It's precisely how you interpret these results that will impact the ultimate outcome.
Three People, Three Interpretations
Three people —we'll call them Kathy, Conrad, and Martin— are searching for a job after being laid off. It's been four months and the number of interviews landed is lower than expected. Kathy interprets this as a signal that prospects are slim within her current industry and it's time to expand her search to areas she previously ruled out. Conrad concludes that he needs to call in the troops and ask for more specific help from his network of colleagues and friends. Martin, while discouraged, continues combing the classifieds and hopes something will work out eventually. Notice that in this example we have three people, getting the same initial result, interpreting that result three different ways, and responding with three different courses of action.
When you are not getting the results you want, here are some things you can do:
- Make sure you really want what you're aiming for. Be clear on why you want it and what the cost-benefit of receiving it will be for you and others. In Kathy's case, she had wanted to look outside her industry in the first place but had been timid about attempting to make such a big change. The low response rate on her initial round of inquiries helped her clarify what she really wanted.
- Change failure to information by asking yourself the question, "What can I learn from this? How does my strategy need to change?" Conrad realized that his strategy needed to encompass help from others in a more conscious way.
- Try a new approach. Check to see if you are holding on to a notion that no longer serves you. Martin was reluctant to shed his belief that finding a job would happen the same way it did for him 20 years ago. Persistence, when it means staying focused on your goal, is helpful. Stubbornness, when it's mainly complaining about how it "should" be happening, is a waste of time.
- Don't make your happiness contingent on getting everything you want. This may seem contrary to the spirit of "going for it" but it is not. It is about finding happiness on a deeper level and in the present. Another take on this is that one of the best ways to get what you want is to first find a way to be happy without it.
In essence, when you are not getting the results you want, you can change one or both of the following:
How you think about the situation
What you do about the situation.
Who Knows What's Waiting For You
When faced with having to accept that your plans are changing, keep Joseph Campbell's well-known quotation in mind:
"We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us."
— Joseph Campbell
This Week: Keep moving in the direction of your goal, adjusting course as needed. Who knows what's waiting for you!
Here's to you,
Note: Next time we'll wrap up this series with a concluding thought about whether you can "make it happen".