I’ve never had the desire to create a ‘bucket list,’ things that you want to do before you die. And my current predicament hasn’t changed that. What I have noted, however, are the things I’m glad I didn’t do! Here are a few examples:
I’m glad I didn’t take the exam for project management certification. I completed all the other requirements but never took the test. I know there are thousands of people (including some not-so-bright) that have this certification. It’s not about practical knowledge, and honestly, if you can memorize a 459-page book, you could pass the test with no experience whatsoever. (Note that you need to document work hours before you are allowed to pay $555 to take the exam.) My opinion aside, employers do want to see those three letters on your résumé if you are applying for such a role. But now I’m very glad I didn’t spend hours upon hours of my life stressing over three letters.
I’m glad I didn’t change companies when I last considered it. In 2010 I reached a point in my job where I had achieved what I set out to do, and I was ready for a new challenge. Without a clear career path available, I decided to pursue all my options – including another organization. After a lot of soul-searching, I decided to stay where I am. I was able to blaze my own path and helped prove the need for a new role within the organization. The position has not only benefited the company – it has provided me a lot of professional satisfaction. The reason I’m glad I stayed, however, has to do with the close friendships I have with some of my colleagues.
I’m glad I didn’t take on additional debt in 2011. I was mere minutes away from renovating my kitchen – cabinets, countertop, and appliances. My plan was to leverage a ‘no interest’ deal and pay it off with my 2011 tax refund. Even though it would have been a good investment in my home, I’m glad I will have that money available to pay other bills.
At first glance it looks like this was all good luck. But that’s not it at all. My brain has been watching out for me all along.
I didn’t take that exam because I knew that the stress wouldn’t outweigh the benefit, at least not at that point in my life. I also knew that the exam would be waiting for me, if and when I was ready to take it.
I didn’t change companies because I was able to place value in the intrinsic, non-monetary benefits of my existing organization. These things, along with a respectable fear of change, outweighed the leap in salary and excitement of something different that awaited me elsewhere.
And finally, I didn’t invest money in the kitchen because it would have been too much of a financial strain. I wasn’t comfortable spending a lot of money I didn’t have – even if I knew it was coming in the tax refund.
I guess the lesson here is to trust your instincts, even when all arguments point in the other direction. At the end of the day, you know what’s best for yourself. We can’t build our lives by someone else’s blueprints.