By Celeste Lindell of Average Jane
KSWB Blogger of the Month for January
I’ve been thinking this week about false starts. Life is full of them because people have an unfortunate tendency to talk themselves into things for the wrong reasons.
If you’ve ever had a situation where you just knew you weren’t going to be happy with a situation (relationship, job, etc.), but you went forward anyway because other people convinced you that you should, or you figured you were on the path so you might as well keep going, you’ve been there.
False starts aren’t all bad, because they can teach you a few things if you’re open to the lessons.
Image credit: Jeffrey Beall
Holding Out For What’s Best For You
It’s awfully easy to settle for things in life. Just because someone offers you something doesn’t mean you have to take it. I think women especially are often taught to just go with the flow and be happy someone wants us, whether it’s in a relationship or in a work situation. Your most powerful weapon is the word “no.”
No, that salary is not enough.
No, I’m not taking on that extra work without a promotion and a raise.
No, I don’t think we’re ready to get engaged.
If it’s not what you really want, it’s not for you.
Listening To Your Instincts
There are lots of reasons we go against our gut feelings. Little moments of doubt lead to bad decisions that can derail the plans they’re meant to bolster. Often your reasoning seems sound.
I guess having any job is better than not having a job.
He says he loves me—maybe I’m not giving him enough of a chance.
You know better, though, don’t you? That job that doesn’t really sound like your kind of thing is just going to make it harder to find what you really want, if you accept the offer. And your relationship doubts probably aren’t coming out of nowhere.
Backing Out Gracefully
The good thing about false starts is that they’re often reversible, especially if you’re really still at the “start” stage. When you realize you’ve made a wrong choice, begin planning an exit strategy immediately.
I’m certainly not saying you can be spared from awkwardness and embarrassment if you own up to a false start and extricate yourself. Whether it’s a job or a romantic relationship or a friendship, there will probably be some uncomfortable moments when you declare your intentions to reverse course.
Just keep in mind that you owe yourself more than you owe anyone else. You do not have to stick it out in a job that’s not right for you or continue hanging out with someone who doesn’t make you happy. You just don’t.
You might have to quit that new job after the first couple of weeks or break up with that friend or boyfriend. It won’t be fun, but it will be worth it in the long run.
Learning To Recognize What You Want
The good news is that every terrible person you’ve ever dated and each awful job that made you almost forget what a good job was like set you up for a future filled with considerably more happiness. Why? Because they showed you what you don’t want. Heck, they drew you an illustrated guide filled with specific examples and red flags that you’ll recognize for the rest of your life. You may have spent some time being miserable, but you can go a long way toward making up for it if you just pay attention and dodge the next similar situation that comes your way.
Celeste Lindell started her blog Average Jane in 2004 and has made friends with other bloggers all over the world since then. She writes about her daily life with a husband, five cats, and a dog, and also posts the occasional recipe. It’s possible that her life isn’t quite as average as she says it is.