• Priya Venkatesan

The gift of life - not happening your way


"Take a U-turn" - the Google maps Lady was screaming on top of her voice.

The U-turn was nowhere in sight.

Patience levels were running low. We just drove.

After few minutes of meaningless screaming, the lady calmed down, rerouted us and gave us another route that does not need a U turn.

All was well in paradise.


I was meant to be a CXO in 2 years. I prepared for it for long. I had to do a lot of hard work. And when the time came, it was not meant to be. Someone else got chosen for the role. 'Disappointment' is a small word for how I feel. A part of me wants to let that go. Another part wakes me up everyday with the question - Am I not worth it? What do I do to let my career unfold from a setback?"  
                                        ~ VP, Manufacturing

Some of us want our life to pan out according to the map in our head. And when it doesn't, we question who we are.


There are quite a few assumptions we make while creating the map.

  • Progress is linear

  • Our agency is the final veto in success.

  • Map in our head is the actual territory/reality.

However reality is different.


It's quite normal to feel disappointed when things don't happen our way. It's a valid human emotion.

Thinking about the same also leads to the sibling emotions of anger, fear, anxiety, guilt etc. too - as can be seen in Fig 1.

Fig 1: Image Courtesy JM Fieber.



There is a transition curve to go through and it does take time - as is appropriate for you. We don't want to "rush in" to feel positive.


However, we can ease the process of traversing the curve a little. Just like wearing skates on a downward slope.


How have my clients built in this process of ease?


  1. Feeling emotions fully - however unpleasant they are

We are built to run away from pain. Suffering comes when we do so - as we somehow learn to ignore reality.


So the default defence mechanism to life not happening our way is to run away / avoid from whatever is happening.


Instead if we chose to feel reality and feel the pain, it lasts only for the time it should last as all emotions are transient.


When faced with paths you did not choose, feel what you are feeling 'completely'.


That brings in a lot of awareness to what is happening in the present moment.


Mindfulness increases our resilience.





2. Taking the time to build acceptance


Acceptance takes time.


Give yourself the time without running towards the next shiny object or getting into the positivity band-wagon. You are still to do the work to get there. You can't fake positivity as you will know it's fake.


Some voids are to be felt and not filled. Take the time to move out of the transition curve in the time that it takes. Your timeline could be very different from someone else's timeline and that does not make you less resilient.


3. Create a new path


We expect our paths to be paved but it is never too late to create a path for yourself however imperfect it seems to be.


When you de-focus from destination to the direction/journey instead, the path will emerge by itself.


Your job then is to just clean your windshield enough to see it.


4. Allowing Vs Making it happen


There are phases in life where you need to be a hustler - making things happen.


There are others where you allow things to happen.


Know the difference when to do what - and you will be at peace with what is.


If your map didn't work - check if this is time for "allowing" the unfolding than hitting it hard.


The greatest gift of life not happening your way is to challenge your assumptions, question your beliefs, breaking your boundaries and creating a better "You" that is relevant for the life ahead.


What do you do when things don't go your way?


#executivecoaching #coaching #failure #giftoflife #thingsdontwork.











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