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Life, Plans & Board Games

June 29, 2013

Life hardly ever goes according to plan. We know that there will be hiccups and detours and that life will surprise us in ways we could never have imagined. The funny thing is, we know this (because it happens all the time) and yet that doesn’t stop us from making plans every chance we get. The funnier thing is that we’re surprised when things don’t go according to plan. Every time. We sulk and are sad and shower ourselves in self pity.

Having a plan is important but being open to and embracing detours that will inevitably happen along the way is far more wise. Because it’s in those detours that we learn and experience things that we would never have put in our plans in the first place. And sometimes those detours lead to things that we end up liking more than any plan we could have conceived for ourselves.

When I moved to Korea in November of 2011 I was set on finding my life calling, a passion that would fullfil me, make me happy and generally make my life perfect. I was also determined to never work a “9 to 5” corporate job ever again. I packed my bags and moved to a country on the other side of the planet where I didn’t know anyone and didn’t speak the language. My game plan and thinking was that if this drastic change of scenery didn’t reveal my authentic self and therefore my true passions, then nothing will. And I was right. Sort of.

Right because Korea taught me more about myself in 7 months than I could ever have imagined. I didn’t have a plan for how it would all go down or even if my time in Korea was one that I’d enjoy. I did however plan on finding my passion. When that didn’t happen and I returned to Toronto feeling as lost and confused about my life plans as ever, I felt like a failure.

But sometimes feeling like a failure can be a good thing because it makes you realize you have nothing to lose and therefore allows you to be open to things you’d normally not be open to. So I did the very thing I had promised myself I’d never do again. Got a 9 to 5 job. It was supposed to be a temporary thing: work until I find something that actually makes me happy and then get out.

Of course life had other plans. Six months on the Pricing Team at Walmart and I can’t believe I enjoy it as much as I do. Yes, it’s a “9 to 5” and no I’m not changing the world. But it makes me happy. Happy because I see the effect the work I do has on my team, the departments we advise and ultimately the customer. I work with people who I think are some of the smartest people I’ve ever met and I feel challenged every day.

In many ways, I feel that my job is a lot like playing a board game with the best players on my team. Every week we analyze data to see where we are performing vs the market and then we come up with strategies to improve our opportunity areas. Based on the recommendations we make, we get reports (like scores in a board game) the following week to see how well we did depending on how the market reacted (or didn’t) Some of it we have no control over (like rolling the dice in a board game) but there are always aspects we can tweak and influence (and when you have the best players on your team – you learn first hand what works, how to think, etc). Being apart of such a fast paced company where no idea is a bad idea and change is the one thing that is always constant, is exciting to say the least.

I’m not saying that a 9 to 5 job is for everyone. Or that I’ll love every other 9 to 5 job from here on out. However, the last few months have made me realize that sometimes we label things as “horrible” even before we’ve explored all the possible options or given it a fair chance. And that sometimes it’s okay to “like” the very thing you’re supposed to hate. Everyone is supposed to hate their job- especially if it’s a 9 to 5. Don’t get me wrong, I love the weekend and a few days off as much as the next person. But I still can’t believe I wake up looking forward to getting dressed and driving (okay who are we kidding, I still haven’t learned to love the commute) to WORK!

I’m not sure how long this spark or my love affair with my job will last but if the last six months are anything to go by, I don’t think the flame will burn out any time soon. And to think this is exactly what I didn’t want.

So go on, go out there and force yourself to experience things you don’t necessarily think you’re going to like. At best, you’ll find something you love. At worst, you’ll prove you were right. And on to the next thing. Make plans but remember to throw them all out the window when something else is unfolding infront of you. Because who knows, you might actually fall in love with the very thing you didn’t want. Here’s to making plans and then tossing them out the window in favour of living in the moment and embracing the natural spontaneity of life 🙂

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