What to do while you’re waiting

Sometimes you need to wait for what you really want. Here are some tips to help you get through those times.

rainSpring in New Zealand is beautiful. Buds on the trees and blossoms everywhere, tiny lambs and cute ducklings. And rain. This spring has arrived with more than the usual amount of rain.

It got me thinking about life’s ‘seasons’, the sunny and rainy times. The dull, grey times. The moments of calm and excitement.

Yet, unlike the seasons, in life it’s hard to predict whether sunshine or rain is around the corner. (To be fair, Auckland weather is pretty hard to predict too.)

Sometimes you’ll find yourself stuck in a season you’d rather escape. When this happens, it’s natural to long for sunnier times. You can spend weeks, months, or even years, waiting for change.

Despite your best intentions, sometimes it feels like you’re wading through mud – that life isn’t changing fast enough. That your dreams and aspirations keep eluding you. That you’re not getting the new job, the raise, the changes you want – no matter how hard you try.

You’re not alone. We all get stuck from time to time – it’s inevitable. So, the question should not be ‘how do I avoid the rainy season?’, but ‘how can I cope while I’m waiting for sunshine?’

I want to share several techniques I’ve learned over the years. Some require small shifts in perspective. Others require patience and time. Here is what I know.

Remember that “this too shall pass”

There is much wisdom in this old adage. Tough times won’t last forever – your situation will change. Try to cultivate patience and acceptance of the seasons of your life, while at the same time keeping your heart open to a brighter future.

Good times won’t last forever, either. Enjoy them while you have them. Relish in the special moments that will keep your spirits up when times are hard.

Use tough times as momentum for change

There is no personal growth without challenge. They go hand-in-hand. Use tough times as an opportunity to reflect, take stock, and regroup.

Tough times often help us make tough decisions. When life is mostly good, we sometimes overlook the small things that are niggling us, the quiet voice that says “something’s not right”.

When frustration or sadness is the more dominant emotion – when you can no longer say that “things are mostly okay” – it’s easier to take a clear, hard look at what’s not working in your life. Identify the things that demotivate or drain you, and use this clarity as momentum to try something different.

Do what you can with what you have

To (fully!) embrace this seasons cliché, sometimes you have to learn to dance in the rain’. If you can’t change your circumstance, then change your attitude. Sometimes your attitude is the only thing you can control.

All situations offer a chance to learn about yourself or others, to practice patience, to build resilience, and to try different paths. Often it is these very challenges that make the sunnier times so sweet.

Be ready

My last tip is to be ready for change – to create space for it in your life, so when the time comes, you will be ready to take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves.

You may not be where you want to be yet, but you can start to prepare for future opportunities. For example, if you want to move into a different role, you could start researching it online, enrol in a course, or speak to others in the field. Immerse yourself in learning.

I’ve found that when you are learning about something new, it’s very hard to feel stuck – with knowledge comes momentum, no matter how slow.

And remember – it (whatever ‘it’ is for you), will be worth the wait.

The perfect career path

Success stories often skip over all the years of uncertainty, experimentation and growth that people go through to get to where they are today.

CareerPathWe live in a world where people are praised for having it ‘all figured out’. The shining examples we read about in magazines, newspapers, blogs – they often only make it into the limelight once they’ve found their path, be that the perfect job, starting a business, or finding great success.

These stories are interesting, but they don’t paint the full picture. Success stories often skip over all the years of uncertainty, experimentation and growth that people go through to get to where they are today. Although inspiring, they can fill us with anxiety that we’re not doing enough. They might prompt you to ask yourself: “What’s the right career path for me? Why haven’t I found it yet?”

I don’t believe it’s possible to find the right career path – rather, the right path will likely find you. Technology is evolving at such a rapid pace, how can we possibly know what the industry will look like 2, 5 or 10 years from now? How can we find the ‘right path’ when it probably doesn’t exist yet?

When we become fixated on long-term goals, we might miss out on the new and exciting opportunities that pop up as we go along.

I advocate the pursuit of short-term goals. I encourage my clients to make the best career decisions they can at any given time, and to be flexible, adaptable and receptive to change. There are many good places to start – but let’s not worry about the finish line just yet. Enjoy the journey.

As Steve Jobs once said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect the dots looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

Celebrate the small wins, continuously reflect on your achievements and keep repositioning the goal posts. The right path will reveal itself in time.