I recently heard a lecture which begged the questions: Can obstacles in life be strength builders or destroyers, are we the product of our circumstances? These questions led me to reflect on how different people mitigate the obstacles in their lives. How do you view obstacles in your life? Do you let them leave you feeling defeated? Or, do you try to gain strength from the experience, learn a lesson from it and try to move forward? Do you react to certain situations differently from others? Is your reaction different based on the circumstance (e.g., family illnesses, personal illness, tax obligations, job loss, struggles with a manager, house catastrophes, etc.)? Whenever you are put in a situation that puts you in a funk and causes you to think "What have I done with my life?" and "What will I do now?” how do you bounce back, rectify the issue, learn from it, and move forward to determine the next best solution?
After doing our taxes and having a child, my husband and I realized that we may need to move in order to accommodate our shifting priorities and whether I should stay home full-time or part-time with our newborn. Before our daughter was born, we lived in the heart of the downtown Boston and relished in the urban lifestyle that comes with dining out multiple times per week, walking everywhere, driving less, enjoying short commutes, and living in a small space. We didn't mind. Everything was convenient for us and our priorities were met. Last fall, we moved to Cambridge to a larger place to accommodate family and the impending arrival of our newborn. After having a child, I have realized being in the hub of the city isn't as important to me as it is to have flexibility in working hours so I can spend more time with my baby. I had expectations of maintaining certain aspects of our previous life that would be accommodated in this new location: dining out, shopping in the city, seeing friends, going to events etc. However, those activities don't occur as much as I thought they would and living slightly farther from the city hasn’t deterred me from visiting my favorite coffee shop in another part of the city. Now, when I visit my favorite spots in the city, I appreciate them more and savor the experience. But I’ve also realized that my priorities have shifted and I am totally okay with that. In fact, I didn't even realize that my priorities shifted until I encountered an obstacle involving our financial future.
This came to light when my mom and I were discussing our living situations and we realized that we both have come to a crossroads. Initially, I got defensive and agitated at the thought of moving again and even further from my beloved view of downtown. Then I started to think: Maybe some of my mom’s comments about wanting things I hadn't before made sense. Maybe now I’d prefer to live closer to the grocery store, maybe now I’d prefer to spend less on living in the heart of the city so I can have more disposable income and can spend more time with our daughter. What are my priorities now? What are my life intentions now?
I've always had a problem with the change that comes with a major life adjustment (e.g., moving, marriage, illness etc.). Now, I am experiencing another life change that is prompting me to re-evaluate what is most important to me. Not discounting tears and yelling matches and memories of fun times passed, it's saner to address these changes now as opposed to sticking my feet in the mud and having to deal with exacerbated problems later. As my mom always said "pain now or more pain later". Ugh, I hate it when she’s right!
The next time, one of these obstacles arises for you, view it as a way to re-evaluate your life goals and intentions for growth and development. What are your goals for you, your family, and your career? Be honest with yourself and what your priorities are now, 5 years from now and so on. Slowly shift and set your expectations accordingly so these obstacles no longer seem like obstacles but rather, opportunities to develop and push yourself closer to your life’s intentions.