“Everything happens for a reason!”
So say a significant proportion of the public, myself included. Whether you’re a believer in the concept or not, it’s certainly comforting to think that there might be a bigger plan at play when things happen (or don’t happen). Although hearing that there’s a reason for everything that happens is usually of little comfort when standing knee-deep in excrement thanks to a burst sewerage pipe – so perhaps the saying should be, “Almost everything happens for a reason; however sometimes shit just happens”.
Anyway, back to my point. There is one, I promise.
Around this time last year I made the decision to return to study, full time, in 2014. I was concerned that running my consulting and coaching business whilst studying was going to be to challenging, and a job opportunity that looked good on paper came along. It was a part-time night shift role where I’d be earning the equivalent of 40 hours’ day-rate pay for only working about 25 hours a week. The job was two suburbs away from my inner-city home so it meant I could drive to work in under eight minutes. Working overnight meant I would have days free to focus on my studies.
Even though everything sounded good on paper, I wasn’t really enthusiastic about the role. Without sounding conceited, the job was so easy that I could do it blindfolded whilst riding an alpaca backwards, however I told myself that having an easy job without any management responsibilities would make it easy to focus on my studies. I was also concerned about my ability to adapt my sleep patterns, however I rationalised that I was fortunate to live in a quiet street with considerate neighbors who didn’t get home from work until later in the evening, meaning I could sleep through the afternoon in peace ahead of the overnight ‘work day’.
I started the job and within two days I hated it. In spite of myself, all I could see were all the things I wanted to fix. Old habits die hard. I ignored that, then stated developing a bad feeling about the role and the business itself as I entered day three of training. At the end of day three I knew I would not, and could not, return lest I verbally bitch-slap the douchebag manager who chased me to my car to make a point about me going to the toilet two minutes before the end of my shift, when I had started half an hour early and didn’t take a full lunch break. I quit by phone the next day.
I spent a few days feeling guilty and then reminded myself that everything happens for a reason. Which was when the ‘reasons’ began to appear.
First, new neighbours moved in behind me and it became clear that their two kids were going to make a lot of noise in the backyard when they came home from school – exactly at the time I would have been trying to sleep. I thought, ‘Oh well, I could have just made that my waking up time’. The following week they got a puppy. A puppy that spent all day howling until they came home.
Then, the house across the road was demolished and building started on a complex of townhouses. I didn’t think much of it until groundworks and pile driving commenced, going on for a week and vibrating through my entire body. Seriously. I think they may have been drilling through to China.
Several weeks after that, the house next door – directly next to my bedroom – was demolished and construction work began on five townhouses, work which is still going on. Then, just a few weeks ago, a development application went up for the house on the other side of me, so it’s just a matter of time until that work starts. So I’m relieved not to be trying to sleep through the day.
Throughout all of this, I found the right balance between running my business and study so I didn’t have to give up the work I love, and in fact found I was attracting better business than ever before. Call it fate, call it what you will.
I was reminded earlier today of my thought that everything happens for a reason when I left that job as I was serenaded off-key by a workman next to my window. As he drilled into brickwork and belted out Bon Jovi’s ‘Blaze of Glory’, I pondered how insane I would have gone if I was working overnight then unable to sleep during the day. I concluded that I probably would have gone a level of feral never before seen in humanity. Nobody messes with my sleep and lives to tell the tale.
So next time something happens that makes you want to tear your hair out, think of me sitting here and doing my work in perfect harmony with all the noise and construction going on around me. Don’t think about that poor version of me in an alternate universe who stuck with the night job and is now tied up in a straight-jacket, rocking back and forth in time to Blaze of Glory. Poor bugger.