Sunday, October 9, 2011

The "Go with the Flow" Phenomenon

Ever made a decision and had all the pieces click into place?
Image by Danilo Rizzuti

Life is full of choices.  Some are small ones:  what to have for breakfast, which socks to wear, whether to buy that book you want in paperback or on Kindle.  Others are potential life changers:  the decision to go back to school, change careers, have kids.  Often we simply have to make a list of the pros and cons, pick a side and hope like crazy that we made the right decision.  

But I've found throughout my life that the world has a way of telling you when you've made a good decision.  This can be ascribed to any number of conditions:  some may call it fate, others may think of it as God's will, others may consider it the balance of the universe.  The label doesn't matter, but I call it going with the flow.

Have you ever made a big decision and watched pieces click into place in a way that felt like it couldn't be an accident?  I've seen this many times in my life.  For me, it's the clue that I'm on the right path and doing what I'm meant to do in this world.  Or have you made a decision and been stymied time after time, with every turn a challenge and nothing working out like it should?  I've experienced this as well, with decisions that I've looked back on later and wondered what I could have possibly been thinking.

Ten years ago I was a single mom, separated after leaving a horrible relationship and responsible for a 1-year-old boy.  The only job I could get was a minimum wage gig working the checkout at a local drugstore.  I lived in a one-bedroom barely there apartment.  I knew I needed to make a change, for the sake of my son if nothing else, but I didn't know what to do.  I got to talking to one of the women who worked in the pharmacy as a technician.  It seemed like something I could do and it paid twice what I was making.  I made the decision to get pharmacy tech training.

And things began clicking into place.  I made phone calls to find a program.  Every school was full, but I got put on waiting lists.  A week later, one of the schools called to tell me that an opening had come available and I would be starting the following month.  I qualified for a grant that would not only pay for my schooling but would also help with some of my living expenses.  I was able to set up an arrangement with daycare and family that would allow me to go to school eight hours a day and follow that with a shift at the store.  After I had been in class for three months, the drugstore moved me to the pharmacy so I could start my training back there.  This came with a pay raise and nights that weren't so late.

I was where I was supposed to be at that time in my life.  I moved to a pharmacy in a grocery store and then took a contract job at the University.  After I had my daughter, when money was tight, the University called me at exactly the right time to see if I wanted to come back and work for them.  They bought my contract and I worked there for the next three years.  

When I realized I wanted to do more and wanted to use my writing and editing talents, the same coincidences started happening.  A Google search landed me a volunteer gig web editing, an easy way to gather experience.  I found inexpensive classes to work towards a certificate in technical writing that fit into my schedule.  I found websites brimming with advice that pointed me exactly where I needed to be.  And I had the pieces in place when my life took a turn and I needed to leave the cushy University position.

My husband has observed this phenomenon as well.  He says that once he met me, the relationship felt "effortless" and things went smoother than any relationship he had ever been in.  When I interviewed a friend for an article, she mentioned the same phenomenon, without any prodding from me.  She decided to open a kid's consignment store and all the pieces started clicking into place.  A year later, she is a successful small-business owner.  

Have you ever experienced this in your own life?  What do you call it? 

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