“Want to make God laugh? Then make a plan.” I wholeheartedly agree with, yet sometimes question, this sentiment. Before I entered law school, everything I planned went exactly the way I envisioned. I got accepted by and enrolled into the college of my choice, maintained a healthy grade point average throughout undergraduate and graduate school, and received every internship I applied for. I was winning in life (at the tender age of 18) and thought that by making plans for everything I wanted to do in the future, all of my dreams and goals would come to fruition at the exact time I wanted them to. Boy, was that laughable!
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At some point during my third year in law school, everything went to the crapper. All of the dreams and plans I had for work after graduation, relationships, and even some grades did not pan out. It was, honestly, the first time in my life that I had no control over how I wanted things to go and when I wanted them to happen.
Though this was the first time I remember feeling a sense of disappointment due to a continuous string of “let downs,” it would not be my last. Dreams of purchasing my first home were thwarted a couple of times, along with the hope of never being unemployed. Additionally, my goal of securing a 9-to-5 job and collecting a pay check every two weeks until retirement 30 years later surely began to dissipate.
Though things may not always go as you plan, here are three tips to stay on course — and encouraged.
1) Accept the setback as an obstacle.
Everybody experiences an obstacle at some point in their career. It manifests as either stints of unemployment, failure to land an account, loss of an important trial or denial of a promotion. Whatever the setback may be, accept this small bump in the road as an obstacle that must be overcome. If you have visualized an end goal, stay the course! It’s a shame that I have accepted the fact that something will go wrong while I am seeking a goal. I, therefore, am not deterred when I have to address an unforeseen issue. If you allow yourself to accept the setback as an obstacle, you allow yourself to use your innate strength to find a solution to whatever is standing in your way.
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2) Seek assistance.
Your help may come from within, or it may come from an outside source, such as a co-worker or a family member. If you have recognized that the obstacle can be solved by the assistance of others, do not be ashamed to seek and accept their help. It could be that what you consider a huge problem is something a friend or relative could help you solve with a simple phone call. If one road is closed, seek another route.
3) Learn from it.
I was having a conversation the other day with a dear friend and fellow entrepreneur. We were discussing the untold amounts of wisdom we have incurred while in pursuit of our career goals. Many of the lessons we’ve learned involve listening to our hearts, trusting our first instinct and valuing our products and services at a greater rate. These nuggets of wisdom, however, came at a price. We have lost clients, friendships, money and sleep while on our roads to ultimate success, which we are still seeking. I have learned that EVERY setback in my plans has been a learning lesson. Though it may hurt at that time, a temporary “no” is not the final say. You only lose if you fail to see the lesson in the loss.
Rashida Maples, Esq. is Founder and Managing Partner of J. Maples & Associates (www.jmaplesandassociates.com). She has practiced Entertainment, Real Estate and Small Business Law for 9 years, handling both transactional and litigation matters. Her clients include R&B Artists Bilal and Olivia, NFL Superstar Ray Lewis, Fashion Powerhouse Harlem’s Fashion Row and Hirschfeld Properties, LLC.
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