I remember my very first performance review. I had sat nervously at my desk waiting to be called into my manager’s office, feeling very much like a student asked to meet with the principal. I watched as a colleague exited signaling that it was my turn. My boss slid a piece a paper toward me detailing his observations on my performance over the last few months. I ignored the positive comments and chose to focus instead on the weaknesses. Seeing them listed out in black and white (and there were more than a few) I suddenly wondered if I would still have a job after this meeting was over.
I am not a naturally quiet individual, but in this instance I held my tongue as I waited for my boss to get to the punch line. I could almost hear the dreaded words, ‘I’m sorry, but…” I tried to tell myself that it would be okay, at least I could say I now had experience, which was a quality lacking previously on my resume. Perhaps this time it wouldn’t take me quite so long to get a return phone call for an interview.
After several seconds of awkward silence, my boss asked me if something was the matter. My worries refused to remain silent a minute longer. I asked him if I was being let go. My boss sat back and laughed. “Of course not.” He then went over his positive comments again with me making sure I knew this time I actually read them, and that I understood that while I had room to grow, he definitely wanted that growth to be with the company. I have been lucky. He was a good boss.
I grew more confident and comfortable with my job and my performance reviews over the years. During one of these later one on ones, my boss asked me where I saw myself in five years. I believe I laughed and said something along the lines of “in your job.” I was only partially kidding.
Nearly five years to the day, I found myself seated on the other side of that desk with my own staff. I learned then that anyone can be an oracle, but before any prophecy can be fulfilled, it must first be either spoken (loudly) or shared (often) for the world to see.
I had unwittingly made a promise to myself that day. I said what I wanted and I did what I said I would. I declared I would be successful, and by most indicators I have been. I have experienced an upward career trajectory. I have a house on the edge of suburbia and cars in the garage. I even have the white picket fence.
But two years ago I realized that I had neglected one other truth. Success by other people’s standards does not necessarily equal happiness. I realized then that in order to achieve sustainable happiness, I had to treat it in the same fashion as one of my career goals. I had to issue a new prophecy. I had to declare I would be happy, and then say it over and over again. I had to make changes to my lifestyle and attitude in support of my goal. I had to pursue happiness just as hard or in some cases harder than I had ever pursued a promotion until my goal was transformed from raw belief to real possibility.
I may never become a household name, but I might. I may never become the CEO of a fortune 500 company, but I could. Those are prophecies for another day. Today, I am pursuing my dreams and not someone else’s. I still have work ahead, there are still things that send me into a rage or sorrow, but I am at peace with the choices I have made, and in this moment, I am content.
Or at least I am on my way.
9 thoughts on “Happiness and Self Fulfilling Prophecy”
I had a similar experience. I told myself, “I will become a professional writer” even though I lacked any sort of experience and majored in a completely different field. That was 8 years ago. Today, I am a professional writer, the “voice” of my company…and I love my job every single day. Think positive, put it out there, and good things will happen! Congratulations to you for following your own dreams and turning them into reality.
I keep trying. I will say that I never anticipated the level of support I have received since starting this process, and stories like yours continue to prove that my decision was the right one.
I think you better decide where you want to be in the next five years!
I have a pretty good idea. Now all I have to do is get there.
Excellent post, Allie! You have a wonderful writing style. Yes, the statement, “I am” is such an exciting (and scary!) statement. And yes, I think the possibilities should outweigh the hesitations. And I don’t think you need to know where you will be in 5 years; I think you can have clear intention in terms of the way you’d like to ‘feel’ in whatever role you will take. However, it can result in some wonderful surprises as to the ‘what’ and ‘how’. Hope this makes sense! Cher xo
I like to have a goal in mind, but I have definitely learned to appreciate the occasional detour. I’ve stumbled across some of the best experiences that way. Thank you for visiting and your kind words.
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I look forward to reading more on your blog. Thanks, Allie!
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Thank you, Allie!