Maybe Keeping Your Options Open Isn’t Your Best Option
Years ago, when I first realized I didn’t actually want the corporate career I had so diligently and doggedly pursued, I did what many people do at the dawning of such a realization: I tried to figure out alternatives.
As part of that mental analysis, I outlined several options available to me based on my education and experience. One of those options was to open my own accounting or tax business, since I was a CPA. And so, just as diligently as I had pursued extra responsibilities at work so I could earn promotions and move up the career ladder, I continued taking Continuing Professional Education classes to earn the credits I would need to maintain my CPA certificate.
I hated those classes, but I took them anyway – after all, I needed to keep my options open. Or so I believed, because that’s what I had been taught.
Turns out that belief was like quicksand, depleting me and keeping me stuck in the kind of lifeless work scenarios I wanted desperately to escape.
What I didn’t understand at the time was that trying to “figure out” an alternative career through logical analysis could never get me where I wanted to go, because where I wanted to go was a feeling place: I wanted to feel fulfilled. And I also didn’t understand that keeping options open – options I had figured out “on paper,” even though life isn’t lived on paper – was a huge drain on my energy.
I think it was the energy drain that ultimately got my attention. I remember one day as I flipped through my mail, the Journal of Accountancy fell into my hands that were weary from keeping all those options open. I looked at it and felt drained. I couldn’t bear the thought of actually opening it, much less reading it. I set it aside, telling myself I would read it later but knowing deep down that “later” would never come.
That’s when I finally came clean with myself: I simply couldn’t keep any option open that related to being a CPA. It was a matter of energy, integrity and sanity. Yes, I was trained to be a CPA and I was highly successful in my finance career, if success is defined in terms of job titles, salaries and promotions.
But I simply wasn’t a CPA at heart. That was the truth I needed to acknowledge and embrace. And it was that very same heart which held the answers to my questions about who I was and what was mine to do in this world.
The challenge with heart wisdom, though, is that it isn’t linear. It doesn’t lay out a five-year plan. It nudges and prompts and calls us forward, one step at a time, asking us to trust our inner felt-sense of what harmonizes with its desires and what doesn’t.
I remember a conversation I had with a dear friend a couple of years ago, at a time when she was on the verge of a big transition: she was changing jobs and moving to a different state at the same time. But she wasn’t doing it in the usual way. She hadn’t received a fabulous job offer with a relocation package and assistance with the move. Instead, she had received powerful inner guidance not to renew the lease on her apartment, literally in the moment she had the pen in her hand to sign it.
That was her first instruction, her first step: don’t sign the lease. It arose, as my stirrings for a new career had arisen, after a period of having felt unfulfilled and uncertain about where to go next in her life. She wanted to own a home rather than rent an apartment, and she wanted a higher-paying job. That’s all she really knew for sure.
But my friend is highly intuitive and she had the wisdom to honor her unexpected and very clear inner guidance. She didn’t sign the lease.
Then what? She didn’t know where she was going to live. She had been talking for some time about possibly relocating to her home state, so she began scanning job boards for postings in that state. She found one. The swiftness with which they responded to her submission and requested that she come in for an interview was stunning, almost comically so. It was as if they had been expecting her submission and had the interview invitation at the ready, and all they had to do was hit the Send key when her resume came in.
My friend can certainly recognize synchronicity when she sees it, so she accepted the invitation even though she had no idea how she was going to manage the logistics of the trip so quickly. She trusted that going to the interview was the right thing for her to do. But her head was spinning a bit from the sheer speed of it all and she wondered if she should be looking for jobs right where she was rather than scrambling to plan a sudden out-of-town trip.
She told me she worried that she was putting all of her proverbial eggs in one basket – the basket with the faster-than-the-speed-of-light job interview – which everyone knows isn’t smart.
After all, we’re supposed to keep our options open, aren’t we? Ah, but I had already learned a little something about keeping options open.
I remember saying to her that she wasn’t putting all of her eggs in one basket, she was putting all of her eggs into the next step. (I know, the metaphor doesn’t really work when we’re talking about steps instead of baskets, but thankfully she understood what I meant. She knows me well.)
My friend wasn’t just smart, she was wise. Rather than draining herself by trying to pursue a lot of options, she trusted herself and her connection with Divine Intelligence instead. She put her energy and confidence in the step in front of her to take. She quickly pulled together the out-of-town trip and went to the job interview.
They offered her a job the next day.
Fast forward to today. She has continued to listen to her inner guidance, follow the energy of synchronicity and put all of her “eggs” in the basket in front of her. She has been working with that company for two years. They love her and keep finding new ways to keep her engaged with work at which she is truly gifted. She is earning a nice, juicy salary and recently closed on her beautiful new home.
Her dream house.
Thank God she didn’t create other lifeless options and try to keep them open. Thank God she stayed true to her heart and focused her valuable time and energy on each step as it revealed itself to her. Thank God she trusted her own living wisdom rather than mechanically following the steps of conventional wisdom.
What about you? Might now be the time for you to finally acknowledge the tender truth that lives in your heart of hearts, and to see the step it’s placing in front of you to take?
You may not know exactly where you’ll land, but you’ll know one thing: your heart of hearts always has your best interests at heart. That is its job.
It’s just one step. Why not take it and see what happens?
I’d love to hear from you!