The Big Picture

I used to be someone who worried.  When I was at school I worried about my up-coming exams or a spelling test.  When I left school I worried about a job interview or a date with a girl.  Heck, I worried about asking the girl out!

I was always worrying about the outcome.  Even though I realized that worry wouldn’t make my situation any better, I continued to worry.  I used to get knots in my stomach, I lost my appetite, and I would get anxious, sometimes not sleeping.

Then one day I thought, “What is the point of all this worry? It isn’t getting me anywhere.” So I thought about the problem I had – a test at school, for example – and thought, “If I score poorly on this test, will anyone care about it in ten years? Will it change my life forever?” As the answer was “no” to both questions, I realized there was little point in continuing to stress over that and get on with either learning for the test, or something else that would be productive.

In other situations I looked at worst-case scenarios and calculated the likelihood of that situation actually arising. Generally the chance was minuscule. So I looked at the most-likely bad outcome and decided how bad that would really be… usually not that bad. I realized that even the most-likely bad outcome isn’t worth worrying about, and it’s also quite likely that a far better outcome will eventuate, so I was able to proceed.

One of the pinnacles of worry in my life, which brought me literally to tears in the street was when I lost my job in London after just one day due to visa issues. After being escorted out of the building at lunchtime without any kind of severance pay, I was on my own. Without a job, and with prospects dim, due to the pending federal election, and it being the end of the financial year, my days in London looked numbered. Where everything had been going along so well, it had suddenly turned to dust.

I remember going back to the room I was renting wondering what I was going to do. I decided that “it’s not what happens to you that determines your life, it’s how you react to what happens, that makes your life.”

Rather than deciding all was lost, I looked at the reality. I calculated how much money I had, and how long it would last. I figured on about six weeks, before I would need to take an emergency job. I looked at the worst case scenario, which was to take a poorly paying bar job until something better came around. Others before me had done it and survived, so I certainly could.

Then, rather than wallowing in my misfortune I set about doing anything and everything I could to make it better. I went on a rampage of calling all employment agencies and companies, applying for anything and everything… until I landed the dream job of Contiki Tour Manager taking tours around western Europe.

Until that time, a worry that I had lived with was the prospect of being unemployed long-term. Growing up, my parents both had secure government jobs and the security of what they had was important to them, and it became important to me. Although I never wanted to work in the public service I did still crave that steady pay cheque.

So leaving Australia for England, without any work set up for me was outside my comfort zone, but at least I was prepared for it. Losing my job unexpectedly like I did, threw me right in at the deep end. When faced with a sink or swim outcome, I decided that a few deep and calming breaths together with some logic would keep me above the waterline. I took on the challenge rather than let it consume me, and I came out stronger at the other end.

We worry in our lives because we think about what hasn’t happened and what probably will never happen, but we also worry because we think that circumstances haven’t turned out the way they were meant to.  But since we don’t know how it’s all supposed to turn out, we can’t know whether what’s happened is good or bad for us in the long run.

Losing that job seemed like the most terrible thing, but it was an unbelievable blessing because it had me applying for jobs I never would have applied for and sent me on an amazing adventure that I continue to live.  In fact had it not been for that job loss I would have never met my wife and moved to Canada.

People often talk about “blessings in disguise” and a lot of what happens in our lives is like that. If we are to live a life that is inspired, we have to allow ourselves to go with the flow, not worry about the outcomes and realize that just because we don’t think something is turning out for the best, doesn’t mean it’s not the “blessing in disguise.”

Ask a person in their eighties about how their life turned out, compared with how they might have imagined it when they were twenty.  For all the Europeans, who fled their homeland during World War II, and settled on another continent, the path their lives took would be unimaginable as a young adult in the 1930s.

Life takes it turns, and after every “disaster” or “catastrophe” a new life path emerges. A path full of new and different opportunities, and certainly a life worth living.

Ask yourself, what is the worst that can happen?  Look for the silver lining and make the best of every situation.  If you do, you’ll make the best of your life.

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This entry was posted in 7 Criteria, Be Inspired, Coaching, Personal Coaching, Questions About Life, Self-assured, Video, Vision and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Big Picture

  1. Tweets that mention The Big Picture | What if? --

  2. Gary says:

    I empathise with you. I’ve been a worrier all my life. This post has has sparked a new thought for me. Thanks man!

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