“No snowflake ever falls in the wrong place.” – Zen Proverb
When I was 26 years old, I realized I was on the wrong career path. The problem was I had no idea what I wanted to do.
In an attempt to find my way, I spent a year networking and going on interviews. Slowly I started to eliminate potential career paths, but still, no clear path emerged.
As the year dragged on, I became more and more bitter at my current job. Since I knew that I was on the wrong path, it was impossible for me to get excited about work. I felt like every day at the office was wasted time.
This bitterness led to anger and anxiety. I started to blame everyone around me for how stuck I felt. But mostly, I blamed myself.
How could I not figure this out?!
In those trying days, as I sat in my cube, dark thoughts ran laps around my mind. And the worst part? I believed these thoughts were justified. I believed that since I was stuck I had a right to torture myself. It was a dangerous mentality that only made my job search more difficult.
Finally, about ten months into my search, I found another job. My anxiety evaporated as new hope sprouted up in my mind. I felt like I was on the right path again.
However, this fuzzy feeling lasted only six months until I realized this new job wasn’t what I thought it was. Slowly, those familiar feelings of resentment and stress started to fester inside of me.
It wasn’t until a year later when I was laid off that my anxiety subsided. I was finally free to create my way without the confinements of a corporate career path.
A few months after getting laid off, my girlfriend and I took a trip upstate to North Salem, NY. We got an Airbnb that had a narrow river trickling right through the property.
We took morning walks along the river and at night drank wine along its banks.
One morning I was out along the river alone and sat on a rock that jutted out into the rushing water. I sat for a while as my mind fluttered between the peace of the river and my ever-changing career.
I reflected back on the jobs I had had up to that point and saw how each one contributed to where I was today. Without the sales skills I developed in my first job or the contract negotiation skills I learned in my last, I wouldn’t have been able to go out on my own.
My only regret was the self-induced stress that I had created at both jobs. What if I could’ve been happy in those trying times rather than a psychological wreck?
I closed my eyes and heard the stream rush smoothly below my feet. I opened them again and saw the water flowing gracefully onward over rocks, through branches, and onto its destination.
The water flowed effortlessly despite all the obstacles in its way. There was no struggle.
At that moment I made a decision. I decided that I would be that river in North Salem. I would flow with ease, grace, and joy on my journey no matter what.
Rather than treat each rock in my way as a torturous obstacle, I would treat it as a natural redirection on my path further downstream.
Like the river, I would flow freely and effortlessly on my path.