Not all those who wander are lost (J.R.R. Tolkien)
This is a picture of the first high school math I taught class back in 1997. More on that later, but first let's start with our kitchen floor. It will all tie together, I promise.
Our kitchen floor has seen better days and those days happened many years before we even moved into the house. Over the years, my husband, Brian, and I have talked about how bad the floor looks and how it would be great to update it. I always hesitated knowing how time consuming of a process I make researching new things.
When we finally decided to update the floor, I got a recommendation from our contractor to check out Garden State Tile. I came in with a picture of what I was thinking and Maria helped me with what is apparently a rare request - a blue kitchen floor tile. The trends are all grays and whites and woods, but I know nothing about flooring trends and just usually go with whatever I like regardless of the trends. But this was a little bit of a problem because there was only one tile that would fit that description since dark blue floor tile is currently a rare ask (I’m next year it will be a trend though!).
I liked the tile, but I wasn’t sure that it was the “one” so I proceeded to go to six different tile stores literally spending days driving around and filling my car with heavy groups of tiles to test out in my kitchen, driving them back to the store, looking online and running through it in my mind - a lot. I literally lose sleep about decisions like this - anyone else like this?? And after all that? I went back to the first store to get the original tile.
I probably could have “saved” about ten hours, avoided some stressful time driving on route 22, and prevented the back strain that came from loading and unloading the sample tiles in and out of the car. But - if I had just gotten the tile that I saw at the first place that day, then I would have always wondered if I should have explored other options. I wouldn’t have felt that I learned enough to make the right decision. I needed to go on a journey - a kitchen floor odyssey in this case.
Along the way I learned about flooring, explored new businesses, and met some awesome people. I got an education that made me feel like I was making and informed decision and even when I didn’t purchase something at the other places, their investment in time with me wasn’t wasted either. Relationships were created which may bring me back to these other stores for a future purchase or to refer a friend there to check out all the wonderful things that they have that just didn’t work for me for this project.
While a decision about a tile might not be life changing, in the past I would have been annoyed with myself for “wasting” so much time looking around and winding up coming back at the original decision. Luckily, I’ve come to see that even when something is difficult or seems like a waste of time, it can still have value and get us closer to where we need to be.
Give yourself a hug instead of a kick
I have had many career pivots and have a very varied education and resume. And sometimes I kick myself for “wasting time” teaching in public school or working business when I could have started my yoga and sound healing business earlier. I compare myself to others in my field who have been doing it longer and wish that I had started 10 years earlier.
But I didn’t. Because I needed to take that journey. And now I see that I use all the skills that I developed from teaching math, teaching elementary and high school art, and working in business as a data analyst.
My business today uses the marketing and analytical skills that I learned in business and through my math education, the communication and organization skills that I learned through teaching, and the varied experiences give me the confidence to try new things in my business. I use my experience with stress and anxiety in those work environments to inform how I teach yoga and work with people energetically.
We don’t know what we don’t know
Ten years ago I didn’t know what reiki was, had no idea what singing bowls were, and probably would have punched you if you asked me to close my eyes and follow my breath. And now I have a full-time business where I ask people to close their eyes and follow their breath and sit in the center of singing bowls guiding people through their chakras. I sometimes can’t believe that this is what I do now! It’s amazing and fulfilling and comes as a result of all of my other jobs and classes and relationships and research that didn’t quite work out.
Sometimes we kick ourselves for staying too long in a job, career, relationship, or wasting time on a task that doesn't work out as we expected, but we need to be kind to ourselves and know that we needed to take that time to learn more, to talk to more people, to connect to our true selves and figure out what we want. Sometimes we literally don’t know what we want until we spend some time experiencing things! We need to see how they feel in our bodies, minds, and spirits.
So be kind to yourself the next time you feel that you’ve wasted time and effort and something didn’t work out exactly as you had planned; maybe you can see the bigger picture of how it fits into your next steps or phase. Sometimes it’s too hard or painful to see at the time and sometimes that wisdom can only be gleaned a few years from the moment and looking back.
Let me know about YOU - What types of pivots and changes have you made in your career, relationships, and life that have had surprising benefits? Did you realize those benefits right away or did it take some time? Send me an email today and share your story with me!