You’re probably thinking “what the hell is wrong with me?” and “am I f-ing crazy?”
And actually, I’m not.
Bear with me, here. There’s actually a huge lesson in all of this.
But first, the story.
When I say I turned down my dream job, I’m being a little dramatic. I wasn’t officially offered the job, but I was recruited for it. And based on my credentials and years of networking, there was a very good possibility that I would have ultimately received an offer.
But I turned it down. I turned down the option to even pursue it.
And for probably the first time in my life, I chose to honor timing over desire.
Like many people, I have a clear vision and some big life goals and plans I’m working towards. These are not dreams far off in some distant land, these are dreams that I am actively working towards, each and every day.
Writing a novel (and in general embracing my destiny as a writer) is something I work on every single day, by sitting down at my computer or notebook and putting pen to paper – words on the page.
Create a sense of inner peace and unwavering self-awareness is also hugely in focus for me. And I work on this every single day, by cultivating my meditation practice, spending quality time with my horse, and and creating time alone…even when it’s hard.
Career goals are also a part of this. There are specific things I want to have a chance to learn and explore, departments I want to be a part of at Starbucks, and far-away countries I want to work in. I network actively, develop myself personally and professionally, and make my intentions known every single day, so that I can slowly make my dreams a reality.
All three of those things are clear, active dreams. They’re in progress. They’re happening right now. And they’re all important. Each one is huge priority for me. And each one is sacred.
That’s why when my colleague called a few weeks ago to tell me about a job that’s opening up – one that would fulfill everything on my wish list – I felt that sense of excitement bubbling up in me, followed almost immediately by a sense of dread.
“Basically, you’re telling me you desperately need me, aren’t you?”
My heart leaps, and then sinks. Despite how perfectly it fits the picture of what I want in my career, I know the timing isn’t right for me.
It makes me think of an old quote. “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.”
My preparation had clearly met my opportunity, but this phone call didn’t feel like luck. It actually felt like a slight bit of torture.
While the career compass pointed to “yes,” every other compass in my life pointed to “no.”
That’s when I realized that there is something missing from that favorite quote of mine. What’s missing is a piece about honoring timing. And gut feeling.
Sure, my preparation had met and opportunity. But was it THE opportunity? Though it sure looked shiny and awesome, the timing was off. Jumping up and grabbing at this seeming stroke of luck and the fulfilling the requirements of the job would have choked out everything else in my life, and wouldn’t have felt lucky at all.
It would have torn me away from my senior-citizen horse, who has devoted 16 years to me and shows me every day how his final wish in life is to enjoy his time on the trails with me as much as possible. To dishonor that would feel anything but peaceful.
It would have torn me away from my carefully-cultivated writing practice, and my fledgling novel, both of which are still in a fragile, infantile place. To jeopardize that would feel anything but satisfying.
It would have thrown me back into learner mode, stressed to the gills with learning the ins and outs of a new job, a new set of coworkers, clients, and politics. To give up the incredible client and coworker relationships I finally have after a year and a half in my current role feels completely counterproductive.
As I looked at this shiny copper penny of an opportunity, I saw very quickly the tarnish that was waiting to form, at least for me, and at least for right now. I saw how this job would have left no time for peace. It would have left no time for writing. It would have left no time for me.
Worst of all, it would have left no chance for an even better opportunity to come along one day, at the right time.
And so I thanked my lucky stars for the opportunity – not for the job opportunity, but for the growth opportunity – for the chance to grow by saying “no.”
And then I sent opportunity sailing back again on the winds of preparation, because next time she makes port and calls on me…I’ll be ready.
And until then, I bid her a fond farewell, and say “better luck next time.”