14 June 2012

Working hard. Having faith. And surrender.

This post is written by contributing author Vanessa Williams. 

I am a recovering worry wart in the truest sense of the word. But in the last three years, with our lives turned upside down more than once, I’ve learned to not worry and let it go.

Regardless of how much you think you have control of your life, it’s really an illusion. You never really know what’s going to be around the next corner. Bad things happen to good people. Life isn’t fair.

However, I think you can put wheels in motion to keep moving forward in the direction of your dreams.

A devastating blow
I had an experience two years ago that I’d like to share. I was a few months out work after being let go as a marketing person for a health care organization. Being let go that time was especially hard. My husband had been out of work for more than six months when I lost my job. Our household income, with both our layoffs, was cut by 40%. I had an all-out cryfest in the HR department (the only time during all my job losses that I shed a tear). As time ticked on, panic began to set in, but I was careful not to show it when I was interviewing - no one likes a desperate candidate.

I began following a lead with a friend of mine who was overwhelmed with work. We began talking about a possible opportunity there. Maybe a part-time contract position. As time passed, it became unclear if this lead was really going anywhere - perhaps the timing was off. I wanted the job more than anything. The company was one of three I identified upon college graduation that I wanted to work at. They really needed my help and I had the skills to be successful there.

Photo: khalilshah
As I hung up the phone one afternoon after another conversation with my friend I resisted the urge to cry. Having been rejected from two other positions in the days before, frustration and the emotional roller coaster that is job searching was taking its toll. Money was running out. I had even looked into cashing in my 401k. These were lean times.

As I sat at the edge of my bed racking my brain on what the next steps would be I realized there was nothing I could do. Absolutely nothing. I had applied to all the positions I could, aggressively pursued them with follow up phone calls and e-mails, and worked my network the best way I knew how. There was nothing left to do.

So I said to myself, “This is it. It’s out of my hands now. I just have to have faith that something will work out. I’ve done all I can.” And for once I meant it. I was truly letting go.

The next day I received an offer at the company. And after some negotiations, I started there a month later as a full time employee.

Photo: Donna Winton
Help me let it go. - Oprah
Earlier this year, I watched in complete rapture as Oprah recounted a similar experience with landing the role in “The Color Purple.”

You can watch her story in its entirety below, but I’ll give you the high points. She discovered the book, which really spoke to her after her own sexual assault experience. She became obsessed with the story, giving a book to everyone she knew. She received a call from Steven Spielberg for a reading for a new project, which ended up being “The Color Purple.” Months past after the reading and she heard nothing. When she called up the casting director to ask what the status was they were rather cold saying she wasn’t a “real” actress. She knew then she wouldn’t get the part. Convinced it was due to her weight, she went to a self-described fat farm.

As she was running around the track she asked God for help in getting over this setback - something that she had wanted so badly. She actually said “I surrender.” out loud and meant it. With that she received a phone call from Spielberg that she got the part.

Your thoughts create reality. - Oprah 
One of the things Oprah talks about in the interview that really resonates with me is creating the space in your life for the good stuff to happen. I’ve talked about this on my blog before, because I think it’s really important. And the first step to making positive change is positive thinking.

I’ve always been the glass is half full kind of a girl so that’s not particularly challenging for me. But it was challenging two years ago with time ticking, and my bank account dwindling. It’s easy to let fear and panic win. But you can’t let it.

If it’s hard to think positively, it’s even harder to come to grips with the reality that you don’t always have control over your life or what happens to you. That’s not to say every time something bad happens you sit at home and wring your hands about it. This is your life, and your happiness is worth fighting for. Get a battle plan and put it into action. But don’t be surprised if the end result wasn’t exactly what you had planned. Accept that Plan B or C or even Z can work, and perhaps even be better solutions that you could have ever imagined.

This has happened to me time and again, which is why late last year my husband and I decided to start a family despite the fact that neither one of us had a stable job. A lot can happen in nine months, and it already has. My husband has a great, permanent, full-time job in his field, and I’ve picked up a part time position - ideal with baby on the way. All it took was some hard work, a little faith and surrender.

Vanessa Williams is the author of A simply good life where she explores how lower standard of living doesn’t mean lower quality of life. After her decision to  get off the beaten track and forge new paths she has found that living with less actually means living with more. Vanessa explores the luring and dangerous grounds of the consumerism trap and offers a solemn and wise account of her real life experiences on the quest to finding what truly matters in life. Connect to Vanessa via twitter and facebook.