Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I found it fairly easy to identify and count my many blessings. I'm sure I missed more than I remembered, but there were just so many. What a great problem, too many blessings to count.
I challenged myself to take it to the next level and identify some significant disappointments in my life. Situations that didn't turn out the way I had planned or hoped they would. I am guessing we all have a few of those.
There was the promised promotion that I did not receive, early in my career. And the business I started and put everything into that ultimately failed. And, the kids I had planned to have that were never born. These were just a few failures that came to mind.
As I revisited these situations, I realized that each one, while devastating for a time, actually turned out to be game changers for me. As each door slammed shut, a new and improved door opened, which ultimately provided truer direction for both my personal and professional life.
For example, not receiving the promotion I had earned and been promised, led me to resign my job, and set out in my own business. The business that failed provided me with an excellent, if expensive, education in successfully creating and running a small business. Not being a Mom has gifted me with the time and resources to be a very engaged and active Aunt, a role that I am much better suited for than being a mother.
Had I continued to reflect on the best things that never happen to me, I could probably turn every one of my major disappointments into major blessings, for real. I may not have been mature or wise enough to understand even the possibility of that when each situation was unfolding. But, I am really happy for a chance to revisit and reflect. With the benefit of time and hindsight, it is amazing how things all fall into place.
It seems that the real challenge around this is to become better at handling disappointments and closed doors in real time, trusting that things will unfold in an even better way than we had planned. We can expend a lot of energy second guessing ourselves and others in the midst of these disappointing and, sometimes devastating, situations. But, what if we just used the energy to move on?
One of my Mom's favorite sayings is "it turned out better than we had planned it to be." Mom is quite the planner and the logistics expert. So, it is not easy for her to let go of her plan and trust that something even better may actually be happening. Taking a cue from Mom, I am going to expand my list of the best things that never happened to me.