“Nothing happens, and nothing happens, and then everything happens.”
That was the quote on a greeting card I sent several years ago to a close friend who was going through a difficult time.
I think of this card, and that friend, whenever I feel my professional life stalling, which lately, is fairly often.
The first quarter of 2016 has been a hopes up, tumble down kind of time for me. Watching my two young daughters start school and feeling more restless working alone from home, I decided to explore the idea of working for someone else again. Enchanted by visions of regular paychecks, health benefits, and making Disney World happen for Spring Break, I was determined to chart my course far away from my home office.
Here’s what happened.
I was courted by a company I really wanted to work for, only to be offered a 100% commission based sales role after three interviews where a salary had been discussed.
I then accepted a role I also thought would be a great opportunity, which due to reasons outside of my control, turned out to be impossible to perform. So, that lasted about a month.
Meanwhile, my girls were in school and daycare for over ten hours a day, so that by the time we all collapsed through the door on any given night, we were hungry, tired, emotional, and had only a couple of hours together before they went to bed.
It was time for a major recalibration. Again.
This month’s theme at Mod is communication. Ask anyone who knows me, and they will tell you I’m very good at communicating what I need, as well as what I offer.
What I learned after a month in a full time, on-site job that was a bad fit from day one, was that I needed to learn to communicate with myself.
How had I missed the signs that first job was a sales role?
Why did I ignore the obvious mis-match the second opportunity was, and barge in anyway?
I wanted to be a better financial provider for myself and my girls. What I became was absent, angry, then out of work altogether.
I decided the best thing to do was...nothing.
I used some savings to allow a few weeks off, and I did nothing.
I did not spring clean the house.
I did not immediately start looking for work in all the wrong places.
I read the books I’d been meaning to.
I picked the kids up at 3 p.m. and went for ice creams.
I called my mom. A lot.
For a Type A personality like me, busy is best. Busy means productive. Busy means I’m valuable, contributing, and no-one can accuse me of being lazy.
Being still and waiting for some true clarity was not easy, but after some time, I began to enjoy it. I cleaned out the refrigerator for the first time in two years, and amused myself with the state of the condiments shelf. That’s when I realized my thoughts about my value and how I contribute were kind of old and needed to be tossed as well.
Listening - truly listening - to my intuitive, wise, and kind inner voice required learning how to communicate with myself all over again.
Being okay with nothing happens and nothing happens, is actually a really calm and safe place to be if you just look at it through a different lens.
In the stopping, I started. And wouldn’t you know it, a few weeks later, I was referred to a new client, doing work that lights me up, allows me to be mom after 3 p.m., and pays me what I’m worth.
The other bonus was that by working closely with this client, a light was shined on my strengths in a delightfully unexpected way, which in turn has led me to make some changes in how I’ll present what I offer in the future.
If you think it might be time to be still, clean some stuff out, and really listen to yourself. Don’t hesitate. Even if you can take a weekend to unplug, play, walk a lot, read a book in one sitting, nap, or whatever allows you to communicate authentically with yourself...
The card was right. I was right. Good things do come to those that wait.
Simone Loughlin is the principal owner of InHouse Consulting. As well as being a seasoned copy/content writer and brand strategist, she consults to startups that want to join or start conversations with women and moms, connecting them through social media and online communities. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.