is turning left when the sign
tells you to turn right
Over the years I have missed multiple opportunities. Mostly these chances had to do with my writing in one way or another. I always had an excuse, a reason, to not take advantage and so the opportunity would slip by untouched, unlived, like a blossom that never unfurls.
Missing an opportunity is seemingly harmless. It’s easy to say, well, it’s not like I’m losing anything by not following up on such-and-such because I didn’t have it in the first place. But it’s easy to forget opportunity can lead you down unbeaten paths, open doors that might have otherwise been closed and locked to us. If we don’t follow up on something that avails itself to us, then we won’t ever know if we’d want to make it a part of our lives forever. We also won’t know what it’s like to take a risk.
I’m a firm believer in that opportunity is a regular visitor to everyone. But we don’t always recognize it. Opportunity is notorious for visiting in disguise, appearing as though it won’t be beneficial to your life, or seem too complicated or risky to take on. In fact, I’m willing to bet that the best, most fulfilling opportunities are the ones that are difficult to fit into your schedule, the ones for which you have to sacrifice something.
And yet, there is something to be said for balance. Unless I’m independently wealthy and have oodles of time on my hands (the word ‘bored’ could again become part of my daily vocab), I obviously can’t accept every opportunity that comes my way. I have to be discerning, which means I really need to examine the opportunity to make an informed decision about whether or not I can fit this into my crammed life, if it will be an enriching experience.
I still cringe over a decision I made 15 years ago that could have changed the course of my life. A rare offer was made to me, but I declined because it was bad timing. It was inconvenient. I would have had to give up much of my life as I knew it, move to another part of the country, say goodbye to family, friends, a new boyfriend, yada, yada, yada.
Looking back, I am fully aware of what I missed out on, and that my life would be completely different today had I accepted. Now, mind you, I’m not saying it would be better, just different. And that’s something we have to consider when opportunity knocks.
When faced with a tough decision, ask yourself about your goals. Are you looking to change your life? Or are you looking to enrich your life? Consider all angles. Don’t only think about the short-term impact, because that is likely to be detrimental anyway. Make sure you examine how this opportunity can affect your life over the long-term. Do you think you can endure the sacrifices if the pay-off in the next 10, 14, 23 years is worth the struggle? Will you learn something new? Could this be a life experience, a cultural education or would it merely be a mediocre lesson, a passing of time?
Be honest about whether you’re living your life the way you always dreamed, imagined, wanted. You need to know if this opportunity will help you on your chosen path, or if it will lead you astray. And, if it does lead you astray—ask yourself if that might be a positive change. Sometimes, we run into obstacles on our chosen paths, and you need to detour for a bit before you can get back on track.
What is especially important to remember is that we are blessed as human beings to have choices. Gifts from the universe. Accept them graciously, open them carefully, and use them joyfully.
“Opportunity does not trouble dead men, or dead ones who flatter themselves that they are alive.” Elbert Hubbard
How about you? Have you ever regretted a missed opportunity? Do you take advantage of as many opportunities as you can?