In life, nothing is “wrong” or “right” (rare circumstances aside). “Wrong” and “right,” especially in regards to where you want to go in life, are relative terms.
Too often, we think of “success” or “doing what we love” as an end. It’s some destination that we have to reach. What so many people fail to realize is that both of those terms are more of an approach to the journey, not the end of the journey itself. You are “successful” when you are walking your path, always learning, always growing. You are “doing what you love” when you see every moment as an opportunity.
It’s on you to discover what that opportunity is.
Where a lot of Millennials and young adults (my peers) seem to get frustrated is they see everything as permanent. They say, “I’m stuck here,” looking at their cubicle job as the end, there is nowhere else to go, and they feel like they will never reach the desired destination of “success.” But no matter where you work, or what you’re doing, there are lessons to be learned. And unless you can discover those lessons and embrace your own journey, you will never actually reach the state of feeling “successful”–in the sense that you are learning and growing and effortlessly becoming a better version of yourself.
The reason why so many people struggle with this is because it means taking accountability. It is so, so easy to sit in a cubicle or an office or even somewhere you enjoy being and say, “This place isn’t giving me enough. It’s not making me grow.” This is the same as blaming other people for how you feel, or your personal issues. Just like a mirror, if you point, your reflection will point back.
The key is to point at yourself. If you look in the mirror and you point at your physical self, your reflection in the mirror will point at itself.
When you “pull the thumb,” you take accountability. You are shifting your perspective from “blame” to “ownership.” You are allowing yourself to open up and see opportunity instead of oppression. This same theory goes for everything: work, personal relationships, even the way you feel about yourself.
Focus On The Lesson, Not The Problem
Let me tell you a story: When I was 14 years old, I fractured my spine playing hockey. It was one of the most painful experiences of my life. To me, hockey was everything–I loved that sport more than anything else in the world, and I was determined to play in the NHL. I used to watch The Mighty Ducks with my hockey gloves on, acting out the scenes in front of the television with my hockey stick in the living room, my mom yelling from the kitchen reminding me to be careful and not break anything.
When I fractured my spine, I knew I would never play hockey again.
In an instant, my childhood dream fell apart.
For weeks, I had to wear a Velcro brace around my back. The fracture was big enough to make walking extraordinarily painful, but small enough that I couldn’t have surgery. The only thing to do was take Advil and let it heal on its own.
At first, I was extremely depressed. I was an awkward teenager and didn’t have many friends. The only place I felt like I fit in was on the ice with other people who loved hockey as much as I did.
And I’ll admit, at first I did what was easy. I blamed everyone else. I was angry and I felt like nothing would ever go right for me, and I refused to even give myself the option of finding the lesson in what had happened. Instead, I just focused on the problem.
With nothing else to do, I sat up in my room and started playing World of Warcraft on the computer.
3 years later, and I was one of the highest rated 3v3 players in North America. I was in talks with sponsors. I was considering not going to college so that I could become a professional gamer. I had one of the most-read World of Warcraft blogs on the Internet at a time when blogging was still relatively new (2007). And most of all, I had discovered my love for writing.
What could have been seen as a debilitating injury, ended up propelling me to find a new interest, become one of the best players in the world, and ultimately help me find a new dream.
Lessons Are Everywhere. It’s On You To Find Them.
Since learning that lesson as a kid, I have trained myself to always find the positive.
If you feel like you aren’t learning anything, that is nobody’s fault but yours. Chances are, someone around you knows something you don’t–and it’s on you to ask them questions. It’s on you to create moments of growth and opportunity. It’s on you to pay attention to the little things around you. It’s on you to create your own gaps, and it’s on you to take your own leaps of faith. Growth is rarely the result of the people in your vicinity. Growth is the result of how you utilize the people around you, and create opportunities for yourself.
The key to shifting your perspective is to remember what you’re aiming for. For example: A job where you perform mundane tasks is going to continue being mundane if you just see it as “just a job.” But a job where you perform mundane tasks that could be seen as a way to learn skills you need in order to one day do what it is you truly want to do, is no longer “just a job.” It’s an opportunity to learn.
If you look at the above paragraph, nothing physical changed. You didn’t move offices. You didn’t get a raise. You didn’t work with people that are “more fun.”
The only thing that changed was your perspective.
And that makes all the difference.