We regularly have opportunities in our life that show up unplanned.
The best things in my life came as a surprise to me. My husband, three of my career tracks, some of the friends I have, and some really cool experiences I had never had even thought to want all appeared when I least expected it.
The irony here is that, in general, I don’t like surprises. I like my goals set, and life well planned and documented in my calendar in advance. As most people who have made it to adulthood know, the universe laughed at this! I have been thrown a lot of surprises, both good and bad. The bad helped me find strength and perseverance but the good has brought me so much happiness.
I have seen people close to me who have experienced similar things and now am, despite my sometimes controlling tendencies, a fan of serendipity. Great stuff just happens sometimes!
I find that when I discuss the topic with others, many find it disconcerting and view it as ‘waiting around for life to happen’. I completely disagree!
I view it as people working very hard on their own goals that they have diligently thought out and then a gift shows up at their door from an anonymous source. Many times, the hard work you’ve been working on in one area actually prepares you for the hard work in another area. I would be willing to bet that most people if they looked back at their life, could recognize the foreshadowing in hindsight.
Do You Accept the Gift?
The question then becomes do you accept that gift? Or do you push it away because you don’t know who it’s from or how it got there?
The first step to accepting these serendipitous opportunities into your life is to be able to recognize them.
Most often these gifts do not present themselves beautifully gift wrapped and tied with a bow.
Sometimes they just look like another obligation: “Can you do me a favor?” You say yes to the favor and you find out that you love it. This has happened to me many times with volunteer work. I have seen it in others when they’ve been requested to tag along on a double date and end up finding the partner of their dreams.
Sometimes it comes out of left field and it wasn’t something you have even considered before. When the opportunity arises the first thought in your head is, “that is not part of my plans”.
Every once in a while you have some vague hope for change in your life. “Something” but you don’t know what it is, where to go or what to do and an opportunity presents itself and you scream (hopefully silently, in your head, as not to scare the neighbors), “That’s it! That is exactly what I was looking for but didn’t know how to articulate it”. That is exactly how I became a pastry chef and sugar artist.
Once you recognize this act of serendipity you need to take a really hard look.
Do You Keep the Gift?
First, you need to analyze the data. What are the facts? Is this really an opportunity or is it a distraction from what you really want? Is this something that is beneficial to you? How exactly will this benefit you? What is the best case scenario? What is the worst case scenario? Can this hurt you in any way? Where are the pitfalls and is there a catch? How can I fit this into what I am doing now?
When you are done looking at it from the practical angle you need to give your tuition a chance to go over it again. Ask all the same questions from your heart and your gut instead of your head. Listen to the answers again and see if they match up.
Just make sure that when you are listening to your gut instincts, it is your intuition you are listening to and not your fear. It is important not to let fear rule your decision making.
Once you’ve gone through all the machinations, it’s time to make a decision.
It may be a no brainer or it could be a very big risk. You may be stepping into the unknown. There may be a learning curve to your new adventure.
If it is worthy of going forward, it doesn’t always need to be all or nothing.
Sometimes you can give things a trial run.
Do You Try On the Gift to See if It Fits?
This happened to me frequently in my pastry business. Someone would give me the opportunity to do something new and I would test it out for a while to see if it would be profitable. Or enjoyable. Turns out that the homemade dog treats that the groomer requested I sell through her shop was neither enjoyable or profitable. However, the dessert buffet I was asked to do along with the wedding cake ended up being a great fit for me.
You could also try out a volunteer position on a limited basis to see if it is what you imagined it to be. Maybe rocking the drug-addicted babies in the pediatric ward is more heartbreaking than fulfilling for you. You won’t know until you try.
And all relationships start out on a trial basis. That is basically what dating is, right? A trial run to see if you make the cut?
You can also try out new things simultaneously while you keep the status quo.
This works really well with jobs and careers. When I decide to change careers (remember I am a multipotentialite , and there is a reason this blog is called a serial life) I usually phase one in and the other out. It lessens the financial risk of cutting off one and starting the other.
While that method works great for your vocation, it is NOT recommended for relationships. Most significant others would frown on you trying something new while phasing them out!
So stay on the lookout for the unexpected! However you decide to take advantage of the surprises in your life, I hope they garner wonderful results.
Photo Credit: Ashley
What is the best thing that Serendipity handed to you?