Earlier this year I was teaching at a university. On one hand, my students were great and seemed to be really into the class. On the other hand, I was having a difficult time dealing with the bureaucracy and restrictions that come with a public university. It didn’t feel right to me, to be there in that situation, and I wanted out. The easiest thing to do would be to just wait it out: complete the semester and then, once grades were in, I could just tell them I would not be returning. That would have been the smoothest course: no headache, no “quitting,” no disagreements, and no hard feelings.
Unfortunately for the school, I decided that I couldn’t wait. I disagreed with their policies and felt like I was being sucked into a career path that, ultimately, I would not enjoy. So, I started looking for other jobs. And, I started looking in the middle of the semester. Taking that smoothest course would mean that I would be stuck for months in a role that I did not want, in an institution that I disagreed with. Ultimately, it seemed to me like my happiness/fulfillment/mental-emotional well-being outweighed the negative image I had in my head of leaving early. That impression that I had of all the frowns I would receive for leaving wasn’t based on my decision, it was based on my timing.
A lot in life seems to revolve around timing. Meeting your S.O., landing the perfect job, getting the best price for your flight to Chicago, etc. And yet, so much of that ideal timing is near-impossible to figure out. Timing really seems to be holding people back from the lives they should be living. I’m sure you’ve heard things like “it’s just not going to work out…the timing is all wrong” or how about “the timing’s got to be just right, or else it’ll never happen,” or, in my case “if the timing isn’t right, my decision is going to ruin my life/image/circle of friends.”
It’s as if people are waiting for some sort of sign, as if they can divine the future based on the alignment of their present+life goals+distractions+easy success. People end up guessing and waiting, and never acting on what it is that they want because they feel like the time is not right. If I had waited, who knows…maybe I never would have left that job.
You can’t just wait for the stars to align. You have to take your life into your own hands and create that perfect, most opportune moment. For me, most recently, this meant applying to jobs months before my previous job was scheduled to end. This also meant working out my schedule to be able to prep for and attend interviews. The timing was weird, and it was difficult to manage. But, I was able to land a job with the title, salary, hours, location, etc, that I wanted. And, the timing of it all happened to coincide with Spring Break, so that my students could leave for the week and return to a new instructor (which seems like the best kind of compromise I could hope for).
It seems to me that, if you are always waiting for the perfect moment, you will be waiting forever. You have to take your life into your own hands and make things happen. The perfect moment is likely not going to present itself; you have to seek it out. The more you (actively) pursue your goals, follow your heart, the better your life will become.
From my own experience, every time I have made a decisive move towards my future, my life has gotten notably better. Take the leap, take the plunge, whatever metaphor you’d like to take, just take it! Wonderful things are waiting for you on the other side.
Your turn: when have you actively created the perfect moment for change, rather than waiting for it?