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Kristen Houghton Headshot

Sometimes Your Happiness Depends On Walking Away

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Recently a very good friend was terminated from a position she truly thought was her dream job. Spending long hours, and expending enormous time and energy to do her absolute best for this job was something she didn't mind doing. She was very good at what she did. The reason for the termination was nothing more than a personality conflict with her immediate supervisor who, by the accounts of many co-workers, was a difficult person to work with.

My friend is having a hard time getting over not having the job that she really loved and at which she excelled. Letting go of what occurred and walking away from a closed door is difficult. It is human nature to want to stop and bang on that door in the fierce hope that it will open up again and let us in.

I understand her problem all too well. A similar experience happened to me quite a while ago. I learned a lot from that experience, not only about the vagaries of the world and the unaccountable whims of others, but about myself as well. I realized that the word 'terminated' did not terminate me from life; I wasn't dead, no matter how ominous the word may have sounded. Terminated from a position, yes, incensed and upset for a few months, you bet, but very much alive. Eventually I had to chalk it up to a learning experience and here's what I learned.

I learned to stop knocking on a closed door until my knuckles were bloody.
That door, despite my best efforts, was locked and permanently closed from the other side and no amount of knocking was ever going to make it open again.

I learned to step back and assess what I wanted to do.
I certainly wasn't going to do nothing but feel sorry for myself no matter how tempting that seemed at the time. Knowing I had a goal and a dream was an advantage to my self-esteem. All I had to do was to review what I needed, renew my commitment, and re-plan my path.

I learned not to give power over my life to the very person who had let me go.
Deciding that I was the only one who should have that power was, well, empowering! Understanding this had a tremendous impact on my ability to move on.

I learned to know my worth and appreciate my intelligence.
Making too many compromises in my efforts to be liked at my former job, I had been in danger of becoming someone I didn't like. I vowed to at least be as true to my own ideals in the future as I possibly could be.

I learned to acknowledge that I too had made mistakes.
That was hard because we really don't want to admit that maybe even a small part of what has gone wrong is somehow our own fault. I came to see that the job had been a great learning experience for me. It was a good and solid education in my field so it was definitely not a total loss no matter how it had ended.

I learned that the job really was only a stepping stone for me.
Being truthful with myself, I always knew that I had no intention of staying there for an entire career. Eventually I was going to leave for a better position.

And finally I learned that by not allowing myself to let go and walk away from that closed door, I was sabotaging any chances I had to go on to something else.
That knowledge was priceless. Too often we focus so much on a door that has closed abruptly and unexpectedly in our faces that we don't realize that the world is full of other doors that are open to us. You won't find your happiness demanding that a certain closed and locked door reopen, all you will do is miss seeing alternate avenues of opportunities that are available to you.

Your happiness depends on walking away from a closed door and finding a key to open a new one.

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