When I graduated college I remember feeling the intense pressure to “get a good job.” I had an education from a top public university and felt like I would have been a tremendous failure if I didn’t take a job right out of college. I found a job to sell radio air time, which I ended up disliking. I always remember the notion of time and feeling that at any point, if I slowed down, in some way time (or others) was going to pass me by. In my work, I often find that people don’t do things (don’t leave a job, don’t end a relationship) because of this notion of time passing them by. They have already invested too much and don’t want to leave. So, it seems, it’s easier to stay.
To me, when time is viewed in this way, you typically end up wasting more of it and are recreating the exact situation you are trying to avoid. You stayed too long thinking that if you invested a little more, tried a little harder than maybe things would change, even if you knew the writing was already on the wall.
After six months in this job that I HATED, I did end up leaving. It was probably one of the hardest decisions I made because after 4 years and a college degree, I ended up waiting tables. It also ended up being the best decision I made. I took the year to figure out what really made me tick. I volunteered, networked, looked at different grad school programs and made some really good money doing something that taught me more about life then anything I had ever done (If you really want to get to know people’s character, wait tables). And then I decided what path I wanted to be on.
If someone had told me that after college I was going to take a year off, I would have said NO, WAY, not me. Now as I look back, three of the biggest decisions in my life, (quitting my job in radio, trying to have our first child and trying to have our third child) had I not been mindful and thoughtful would have likely been driven by a decision based on an external perceived “time frame, “ rather than what was needed and best for me.
I will never forget sitting in my supervisor’s office talking about studying for my licensing exam. This was a process that I was preparing to commit six solid months to doing, three of those months entailed studying for hours on a daily basis. At this point I had been married almost five years and my supervisor looked at me and said “I know you want to have a baby, but your license is your ticket. I know people who thought they could study while they had a child and they never finished. There is no harm in waiting a few extra months.” I remember these words so clearly, and I think that might have truly been the best advice I ever received.
I have held onto those words as a reminder in other times in my life when I feel a push to do something quickly because of a time pressure and I remind myself, much of that pressure is put upon us. I try to stop, take a moment, and listen to what truly makes sense for me and I typically realize that the myth of time passing me by will only truly happen if I NEVER act on something, not if I take my time in getting there.