Thursday, May 10, 2012

Forks in the road

I was a little intrigued about my friend Dennis's comment on my last post regarding job change, and having taken the 'wrong' fork in the road a few times in his life. This happens to be something I've thought a lot about over my life, which has been filled with choices to be made, and often abrupt changes in direction.

I've often made poor employment decisions, for some reason. Maybe, as in this time, I was so desperate to get out of a bad situation, or merely desperate for a job of any kind, that I simply overlooked the red flags that popped up. I tend to be an optimist in those situations, thinking I can deal with anything. There are a few industries I've learned over the years to avoid: insurance, personal injury law, and property management, to mention three. Right there, I should have known better than to take this job. In fact, I did turn them down the first time they offered it, but was swayed with the second offer.

On the other hand, in more recent years since I've studied and practiced Buddhism, I've learned to open my mind and see that each situation we find ourselves in -- particularly situations that are less than pleasing -- are filled with opportunities to learn things we need to learn. I approached my last job that way, and truthfully, I think I learned the lessons I needed to learn there and can see the wisdom in needing to go into another situation where there is much to be learned. I just need to change my attitude, open my mind and heart. And little by little, I'm doing that.

But back to forks in the road. I've often wondered how different any of our lives would be if we had taken different forks along the road of life. We're offered choices on a regular basis -- smaller choices on a daily basis, larger choices less often. With a life filled with choices and changes the way mine has been, there have been countless opportunities to have taken different forks since I was 18. It's something I'll never know, of course, and I don't spend a lot of time thinking about it, but it's still an interesting philosophical question. I haven't regretted leaving many jobs in my day, but I have for many years regretted leaving my work in marketing at Beringer Vineyards. I left just before the company exploded in size, and the potential for growth was high. And, right after I left Napa (4 years after leaving Beringer) and moved to Atlanta, I heard through a friend that one of our suppliers had a job open that he wanted me to fill -- wonderful job I would have loved, paying $40,000 (a fair salary in 1986). It's not one of those things I spend time regretting, but it's one choice I'd certainly make differently if I could go back in time.

What are the forks in your life that would have you in a totally different place today? Think about it. My guess is that there are lots of them.

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