Creating a Vacuum (or, when to move on)

Careers and relationships are curiously similar, I think, and as a pair are quite unique in how we approach them. We dive headfirst into these commitments with only partial information – information which, more often than not, turns out to be inaccurate.

I don’t mean to imply that job openings and potential romantic partners are intentionally misrepresented (though, I’ll admit, they sometimes are). I mean to say that they are simply two aspects of life that must be understood experientially – initial descriptions and appearances suffice only to lure you in, and you’ll only truly understand them by experiencing them over the course of time.

And thus it is important to reevaluate once you’ve acclimated to a job or significant other. Do not ask yourself, ‘is this the person or job that I fell for initially?’ (chances are, they will be quite different). Ask yourself, ‘do I love the person or job that I know today?’

But I urge you to make a distinction between the two different types of love: that which is born from mutual respect and shared values, and that which is simply a function of time spent together. The former is what we yearn for – true love – a job that is congruent with our aspirations and provides a vessel through which we can improve our world, or a partner that is leading us on a journey of growth and transformation. The latter is simply a function of comfort – given ample time, our hearts grow accustomed to a presence and begin to accept them as a part of our expected emotional landscape. We are, after all, creatures of habit, and in consistency we find comfort.

One type of love is the gateway to expanding our soul’s potentiality for greatness. The other freezes us in time, perhaps not causing regression but certainly pausing our growth throughout the time period that it occupies. And though these two loves are infinitesimally polar, I fear that you’ll find them painfully difficult to distinguish between. Love is love – the feeling often manifests itself in the same ways, the symptoms appearing identically despite the underlying causes differing greatly.

And so I offer you two questions to help gain clarity:

Knowing everything you now know about the person or job, would you make the same decision today?

If they told you it wasn’t working out, would you be relieved or devastated?

You’ll find that the answers reveal the type of attachment that you’re experiencing.

We often speak of doubts – each of us has them, but a benchmark for normalcy is difficult to establish, isn’t it? The best I can offer is to assure you that while doubts are normal, persistent doubts are not. If you find that you’re mulling the same recurring apprehensions, it is time to move on.

And herein lies the most important lesson that life offers us in regards to love – that we cannot subject it to delay.

When we come to the realization that something is not right for us, we must not delay the inevitable decision – for we are not only costing ourselves the potential for growth that we would experience with a better fit, but we are robbing the other person of the opportunity to discover it as well.

And I believe the inverse to be true: when we finally identify the person or career that holds our passion, rush into it headfirst and with wanton disregard for patience or caution.

For while we can pause our own growth – stagnating ourselves with a situation that affords us only an opportunity to continue as we were prior – time can never be paused. Once spent it can never be recovered; it is our most precious resource by any metric. It is inestimably scarce and cannot be borrowed, traded, created, nor stored.

And if you find the post-decision dissonance to be agonizing – that is, analyzing, regretting, or second-guessing choices you’ve made as you replay the highlights reel in your mind – realize that arriving at this decision was no insignificant feat. It came only after careful and thoughtful consideration – and so, after the decision is made, simply refuse to rehash the same internal arguments unless new information presents itself.

I call it trusting myself in the past tense, and I find it invaluable for being comfortable with a decision as the days or weeks pass by and my resolve begins to waver.

And so, I’ll leave you with the most exciting prospect of all: that tomorrow you may wake up and find your purpose – be that a person or a career, whichever is lacking in your life. And that alone should make each day incomparably inspiring.

But seldom will these opportunities afford themselves to a crowded life. You must first make space for them – create a void by removing that which you can’t live without, and the magic will fill the vacuum.

Un abrazo fuerte,


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