Why are we often so caught up in where we are going that we forget to be open to the small opportunities that show up every day as coincidences and surprises?
Recently I met a successful young man – very young. He had managed to capitalize on the opportunities that had presented themselves along the way and the fact that he had been able to do this had proven meaningful and contributed greatly to success early in his life. However, he was still frustrated about not knowing his goal. He thought: Everybody else knows exactly what they want…. What is my goal?
Maybe you recognize the feeling that everybody else has a crystal-clear picture of their long-term goals and you don’t. Most of us are living and working in a reality where it is expected that we have these tangible goals. However, I meet many frustrated people who have goals that are so specific that they have closed down to the things they encounter along the way. They tend to only see and let in the people and inspirations that confirm the long- term goal they already have in mind. More of the same…
Their goal was initially created at a point in their lives where their experience and knowledge was at a different level and even though they might have outgrown the goal they still hold on to it. The consequence of this is that they have closed down to the small openings along the way that might have been helpful in adjusting their direction. The strong goal has made it easy but also very rigid.
So what happened to taking in the new angles and inspiration and being open to surprises we happen upon every day in people and life?
We can’t possibly know everything beforehand, and as we grow we will need to let in new things that we once thought would never be in our lives. Here I am not talking about a complete reorganization, but rather the continuous openness to invite in a new type of people or activity or even just a completely new type of book to read.
How to navigate so that you stay curious and still have a path to follow
You don’t need a very tangible long-term goal to go forward and have a good life. What you need is a personal vision that does not get too specific, and awareness of what makes you feel good. (Your personal values)
Together these two things will guide your actions; the personal values can guide all small decisions in your daily life, and the vision is useful for bigger decisions and if you feel you have somehow lost track.
This will create a more fluid and flexible career and life path that will ensure that you invite in new things and see different angles as you grow and become ready for them. The people that succeed in this strategy are the happiest people I meet. But for it to happen you have to go against the grain and be comfortable in not having a specific long-term goal; you must operate from a place of not always knowing how you will fulfill your dream.
In short here is what you can do to turn the unexpected into opportunities and openings
2. Start asking yourself before going somewhere: what surprises or new things will I encounter and how can they inform my next step towards my vision?
3. Be present! Instead of thinking about the next step towards your goal, just be present… Suddenly small, curious possibilities will open up as opportunities for new learning
Good luck with taking better advantage of the unexpected every day.