Can we talk about that “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” for a moment?
We hear this a lot, and it’s all really exciting, but I want to pick it apart a little bit.
“Once-in-a-lifetime” things are electric. They give us butterflies in our stomachs. They feel as though, if we play our cards just right, we will go places and experience things that we couldn’t otherwise.
- that job,
- that project,
- this risk,
- that trip,
- that guy/girl,
- that client, etc.
Thus, we feel compelled to say yes to:
… all because they are “once-in-a-lifetime opportunities”.
After we say yes, we enter into these situations with an incredible amount of pressure. We tell ourselves, “You’d better make this count!” or “If you screw this up, there’s no recovery!” But who can perform well under that kind of pressure? And if (heaven forbid) it doesn’t work out, there can be all kinds of regret about missing out, loosing out, or messing things up. After all, it’s called a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” because it only happens once, right?
Well, here’s the deal: That “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” is not what we tend to think it is. I’m learning more and more that life doesn’t work like that.
Sure (don’t get me wrong), there certainly are opportunities that are incredibly unique and distinct in their particular flavor; there may not ever be another other like it.
But when we talk about “once-in-a-lifetime” it is often in a fatalistic and singular way, as if it’s the only way to get from point A to point B. We think that between where we are and what we want to go is a chasm which only this “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity bridges.
The “once-in-a-lifetime” event at hand, whatever it may be, is only one of many ways across. It may be the most obvious, most present, and the most appealing right now, but it’s almost certainly not the only way to get where we want to go.
So take the risk when it makes sense.
It it doesn’t work out, know that (as the saying goes), “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.” (Gross, but true.) So let’s keep moving forward.
What is your experience with once in a lifetime opportunities? How have you found other ways forward when one passes by?