Once I worked at a small hotel in Tulum, Mexico, where I met this amazing German lady, who owns a café. Mika is in her early fifties, grey-haired, light-footed, with flashing eyes and a deep voice. She moves, gestures and laughs a lot and is ALWAYS full of energy.
The café has been awarded the best café in town title by a world-renowned travel portal and is well known for its “Hangover Breakfast”. Authentic German fried sausage, scrambled eggs, bacon, mashed potatoes. It’s usually full, thanks to the friendly atmosphere and that Mika chats with everyone. We became friends in no time at all, talked and met often while I was there, and later also had some contact on Skype.
On one of these calls Mika showed me her plastered arm with a laugh.
She had been pushing herself way too much again, and was trying to put stuff up onto a high shelf, and had to stand on a stool to reach it. After the third round, the stool tilted and she fell, breaking her wrist to several pieces. She would be unable to work for the next three months and was not yet sure how her arm will heal.
I heard and watched her laugh, as she told me how lucky she was, because she paid thousands of pesos for the necessary surgery, and they managed to assemble the bones without using rivets.
She thought she was really lucky.
Lucky because she realized that she had been working non-stop for many years, but now she had to rest. She probably fell, because she was tired and could not pay enough attention to herself. Now that she finally had time to think, she decided that she will no longer wait on tables, because others can do that for her. She had wanted to start a new project for ages, but never had the time.
She was not happy to have a broken wrist, but she was very happy, that it wasn’t worse. She didn’t hit her head, and did not break anything else. She got away with just a broken wrist.
Weeks later Mika was still not annoyed, instead she did exactly what she was capable of at the time.
When she could jump on her bike again, she visited a property, where she might open a new café. She did some calculations, made a business plan, collected new information, because she still could not cook or wait on tables. There is no health insurance that would have paid for medical care or sick leave, so she had to cut back on her spendings. The café creates income only with continuous work and since she was the main driving force in her four-member team, the drop in sales was bad news. In addition, it was high season. So she had to compromise.
I often think about this story.
This week I remembered it again, when I heard a lot of people complaining, and I too had a bad day.
There are those times when things just don’t work out the way we want them to, and we tend to see our situation a lot worse than it actually is. On these days it’s harder to be in the office, we dislike our jobs a lot more, our boss and our colleagues are more annoying and every task seems to be totally pointless. Things couldn’t be worse.
I hear others complain, and I hear myself too. I hear complaints of too many hours at the office, of boring projects, of not enough money, of being too old to change, of too much stress and all the usual ones.
Surely, you know these too.
Of course, sometimes it feels good to complain, but sharing it again and again doesn’t change a thing. For a while your friends will listen to you and will even sympathize with you, but after a while they will stay away.
We need to get up from our comfy chairs and we need to move.
I often think of Mika, who thinks that a broken wrist is a stroke of luck.
She can relax, when it’s time to relax, and she can embark on something new, when it’s time to move. She is not the one who says: “Oh no, I’m not doing this, because I don’t know what the outcome will be.”
Instead she does the best she can. That day.
She can’t get her bones to heal faster, but she can use this time in a different way.
Does this lady know something unique, that many of us don’t know? I don’t think so. She knows something that anyone can learn at any time.
She knows how to change perspective.
She simply changes the way she looks at things. She makes a choice and chooses not to dwell on things she can’t change, but only on the things she can. She does not spend most of her time with analysing the problem, but rather on finding the solution.
When we are in a difficult situation, many times we don’t even make an effort to get out of it, because what we really want seems to be way out of reach. We have no idea how to get there. So we end up staying where we are, which might not be where we want to be, but at least it’s safe. And we complain. Then we get ill, burn out or get fired.
Nonetheless there are not too many things in the world that created themselves. Or in one day.
Everything started with an idea, a wish, a need.
Then continued with research, work, planning and investment. Look around you. The lamp that you switch on, the pen you use for writing, the clothes you’re in, the phone that’s always in your pocket. These all started with a tiny idea. And then someone created them.
So what would you choose?
– Will you keep on hating your job and complain about it? Or start to be happy that you have a job, which means you have a stable income. This will give you time to figure out your strategy for the next 12, 6 or 3 months, the amount of time that you could use to change the way you work.
– Will you keep on talking about a job you don’t want anymore? Or will you accept that for now you are there, and make a list of where you would really like to be?
– Do you think that your work is meaningless? You can decide to find meaning in it, or look for something that has meaning for you beyond your work. You can learn something new, you can volunteer, start a new hobby or sport.
– Are you tired of working in such a place just because you need the money? Or would you rather say: “I choose to work here until I figure out a strategy for a change.” Try it. How does it feel?
– You have no idea what you would do if you were not at this job? Start observing yourself. Make a list of the things you enjoy doing. What makes your eyes sparkle, what makes you smile? What are your naturally talented at?
– Do you feel you are unappreciated? Then start appreciating yourself! Make a note each day of what you’ve achieved. What did you do well, what did you deliver on due date, what tasks did you complete with attention and accuracy? And pat your shoulder. You deserve it.
Focus on what you can and not on what you can’t do.
Don’t concentrate on the problem endlessly, but rather on the solution. Do not stress yourself about how you will reach your goal. Proceed step by step. The first step is that you start observing yourself and get to know yourself at a deeper level.
I understand that you feel uncertain in many ways. But what are you sure of?
What is the one thing you can start to change today?
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Until then have a great day!
Photo by Eva Tornallyay.