Opportunity knocks. Are you just going to sit there?

baby handsMy husband Jerry and I decided after a few years of marriage that we would have a baby. We thought this was our decision to make. We figured it would be easy. People do it all the time. In fact, a lot of people do it by accident.

But nothing happened, and there were no babies available for adoption. Eventually after several years we decided to put that dream aside and make the best of our situation. We settled into a comfortable child-free life. After 15 years of marriage we had two interesting careers and our own high-tech business on the side. We traveled, enjoyed theater and fine restaurants. We certainly were not faced with any decisions. Even our families had stopped asking us about babies.

But then one day we saw someone on TV talking about independent adoption, an agreement between a pregnant woman and adoptive parents. Our conversation began, “That’s interesting, but it doesn’t have anything to do with us.” Then we realized we had an opportunity. That’s when we decided to plant a signpost, bam, right in our comfortable path. And we weren’t moving until we decided. We visualized both paths. On one side, continue on the path we were on. Of course, we were in the middle of a product launch. We had our jobs, our little business. It was all very orderly and comfortable. Or, on the other, we could adopt a baby. A baby. We visualized ourselves being a real family. As soon as we asked the question we knew the answer. Two years later we had a newborn daughter. People even said she looked like me. And she grew up to be a beautiful and talented young woman. We’re so proud of her. She’s a teacher, and the most amazing thing is she even knows how to teach teenagers. She’s really good at it. What a great decision.

Think about your opportunities. Should you seize any of them? Opportunities are an impetus to get you started on the first of the seven steps to positive action. You have decisions to make. Opportunities don’t wait around for you. Plant your own signpost. Make a list of opportunities you have right now or that might appear in the future, opportunities for personal or business growth, financial rewards, dreams fulfilled or exciting changes. Now, for each one, ask, “What should I do with this opportunity?”

Have you ever recognized an opportunity and had it move you to action? What do you do to make yourself more aware of the opportunities around you?


Dissatisfied? You Have a Decision to Make!

Angry teacher

Step one in effective decision-making is in discovering the important decisions to be made. Dissatisfaction can lead you to latch onto some important decisions. It did for me.

I finished college with a head full of wonderful science and educational theories and an almost religious fervor to bring the beauty of all that I learned to the world. I imagined myself seated under a tree like Socrates, eager students gathered at my feet, listening in awe to all the knowledge I imparted to them. Instead, I found myself in front of bunch of rowdy teenagers. I knew a lot of mathematics, but I didn’t know the first thing about classroom management. Rather than profound science, what I was expressing during class was more along the lines of, “Sit down! Turn around and pay attention! Why can’t you see how beautiful this is? Ugh, who threw that?”

I was presenting them with my beautiful mathematics and they were treating it with scorn. They hated the class and so did I. I found myself thinking, “It’s not supposed to be like this. This is my mission in life. It can’t be like this. Next year I’ll have a new class and they will love mathematics the way I do.” I thought sheer force of will and a love of my subject would do it. But, of course, the next year was no better.

Finally I allowed myself to admit that I was miserable in my chosen career. That was hard. Harder still, I admitted that there were some things that I could not change. Classroom management is much more important than love of subject at the high school level. That was never going to change. I decided to plant an imaginary signpost, bam, right in my path, forcing me to consider my options. On one path I could continue in a job that was making me miserable, and on the other…

There was no other. I had no other job possibilities. I tried to visualize the other path, but it appeared full of fog and brambles. The choice came down to the unknown or a known that I hated. I decided to leave. What a great decision! Otherwise, I’d still be there, still miserable, still waiting for things somehow to get better.

Are you dissatisfied with something in your life? Plant a signpost and decide what to do about it. Make a list right now of all the major things that dissatisfy you. You may wish to choose one of these dissatisfactions to build a decision around. Don’t worry. One option you always have is to accept the situation as it is.

Have you confronted dissatisfactions and moved ahead? How did you do it?