Has your life turned out the way you’d hoped? Or somewhere along the path, did you take a fork in the road and it ended up sticking you in the gut?
Yeah, that’s pretty typical.
One of my brothers called me last weekend, really annoyed that yet another law enforcement department in his state turned down his job application. Last year, around his 43rd birthday, he decided he wants to be a cop. Problem is, most agencies limit applicants to 38 or younger. This is the fifth time he’s been refused. I am the big sister, so I said, “Well, it’s too late for me to become a prima ballerina, too. That’s sad. So what will you do now?”
If you don’t get what you wanted, what do you have? You have the opportunity to choose a different dream. As my wheelchair-bound friend and famous motivational speaker W. Mitchell says, “It’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do about it that counts.” My brother is just going to have to pick a new dream career. Sorry, but “them’s the facts.”
Sometimes, self-help gurus tell people to set up goals and dreams that are unrealistic. But it’s hard to know if the dream you’ve set for yourself is unrealistic or not. There have been people who climbed Everest in their 70s. There have been women who had babies in their 50s. There have been people who became best selling authors in their 60s.
My belief: when you don’t get what you want, you have to get real and face the hard facts. Are you not trying hard enough? Are you giving up too early? Are you inches from the goal and just not putting in enough effort? Or are you just not likely to get it because of factors outside your control?
Like my dear brother.
It’s not his fault that the law enforcement rules in his state preclude him from ever getting hired. Maybe if he moved to another state, or if he just wanted to work in a police station as a dispatcher…maybe he can have a modified version of his dream. Perhaps if I enrolled in ballet classes and practiced relentlessly, one day I could participate in a modest performance. But the chances of me becoming a world-class ballerina starting so late in the game are pretty slim. Them’s the facts.
Take a look at your dreams. Give them an honest assessment. What would you have to do, how would you have to change, what kind of time and energy would you have to invest to pursue them? Are you willing to make that commitment? If not, you’re not allowed to sit around grumbling about how you didn’t get the Big Chance you always wanted.
When you DON’T get what you wanted, your only remaining option is to see what you can make out of what choices you do have and then decide what you want badly enough to put in the energy to achieve it.
PS – My last ballet class ended when I was five. My real dream was to be like Katharine Graham or Diane Sawyer. I’m in the ballpark, but in the nosebleed section…I still live in the world of words. For me, it’s better than not even close.