“I prepared and practiced for a job interview for months. How could this have happened?”
It was through tears that one of my clients told me about her very first job interview ever. She had been with the same company for 22 years and made her way to the top without ever going through an interview. About a year ago, the company went through a downsizing and she was let go. At 44 years old, she found herself starting over and preparing for job interviews.
“At first, I was so excited about the job,” she cried. “I paid a professional to help me with my CV and prepare for the possible interview questions. I practiced in front of the mirror. I practiced with everyone I knew. I gathered their feedback and kept adjusting myself. Everyone had a different opinion. I felt so confused and began questioning whether I was fit for this job. I’d be competing against candidates who were younger, had more degrees and had done so much more than me. I worked so hard to follow everyone’s tips to dominate the other candidates.
On the day of the interview, I tried to remember every single detail and every word for the perfect answers. The questions were nothing like the ones I had practiced over and over again. After the first three, I was completely overcome with anxiety. I couldn’t continue. I froze. I burst into tears and walked out.”
Can you feel her pain right now?
Maybe it reminds you of a similar situation where you had to prepare for something big in your life. Maybe a career transition. Maybe a presentation. Maybe becoming a parent and so on.
If you’re like my client, you’ve probably put soooo much energy in making sure everything is PERFECT! This is something big; you can’t afford to screw up, right? So, you’ve prepared or practiced till you feel drained and stressed out.
Having been on this road a few times, here’s something I’ve come to understand. Whenever we’re pursuing something big in our lives, it will require energy and effort. When it gets to a point that we feel drained and stressed out, we’ve gone too far! Our energy is no longer coming from our inner passion and most importantly, our inner wisdom and we’ve probably even lost faith in ourselves. Fear has taken over and calling all the shots.
See if this sounds familiar.
You start preparing for that something big in your life. You feel a sensation of excitement and begin putting in effort, learning what you need to learn, practicing, and getting everything that needs to get done and so on. The passion for the actual thing is supplying the energy to move forward. At some point down the road, images begin to form in your mind about how the end result might turn out. These images create a colorful dialogue about everything that might go wrong. Then, they get really creative in comparing yourself to others who have either already achieved it or are on a similar road. You begin to doubt whether you’re good enough. So, you keep pushing and pushing. Slowly the inner passion and excitement you initially felt is reduced to anxiety and stress.
Watch yourself for a moment. Listen to what’s happening inside.
Are you tired?
Are you consumed with pushing yourself to compete with who knows who to be as perfect, as competent, and as smart as they are?
It’s all a waste of good energy! That’s why you feel stressed and drained. You’ve lost sight of your inner wisdom and become a prisoner of your own mind, your own worst enemy. You’ve buried that inner beauty that makes you awesome. You’ve forgotten the passion burning inside with an energy that made you feel ALIVE! You’ve looked outside and let your mind direct you away from the one source keeping you awake along your journey – YOU!
Although we may need to learn new skills, practice and acquire knowledge which is necessary to achieve our goal, there’s an accumulation of past knowledge that is completely useless, cluttering our mind and limiting us from moving forward.
All the heavy accumulation of past sorrows, failures, anxieties and so on, carried into the true present living moment. Now, we want to achieve something big? How can we?
Have you ever tried going up a hill carrying a heavy weight on your back? Try it. Notice where you’re attention is focused. On the weight! You won’t have the energy to focus your attention on the road ahead of you and everything that’s taking place around you. Then, remove the weight and see what happens.
When you see, actually see the liberating fact that letting go of all the accumulated knowledge from the past, will make space for the new in the present, your mind awakens and your energy will come from your inner passion and wisdom. Your attention will be on ‘what is’, not on an image of ‘what has been’ or ‘what should be’. You get out of your own way and every mistake becomes a new learning experience, not something carried from the past.
It’s ok if you take a wrong turn or come to a dead end along your journey. Sometimes, they may be leading you to amazing little surprise routes to discover entirely NEW destinations. If you remain attentive and not let your thoughts interfere, you’ll continue walking and enjoy going at your own pace. Getting there will be so much more worthwhile.
To go very far and beyond, you must begin very near – YOURSELF. Accept where you are now, focus on your first step and let your inner passion guide on your journey.
Were you watching and listening to yourself? What took place?