I’m all for gratitude – despite my stomach turning every time I see it hashtagged. It feels a little #overdone.
But as beautiful and important as gratitude is, sometimes we hide behind ‘gratitude’ as an excuse for not changing our lives.
Take for example, a beloved mate of mine. She has a steady job in the field she trained in, and it’s not horrible – but it’s not great, and she doesn’t seem happy.
Whenever we meet for a drink, we inevitably broach the topic of her career. She complains about her boss, her colleagues and the commute, summarizes how stuck she feels, then tacks on, “I guess it could be worse”.
It took me a while, but recently it dawned on me that perhaps, instead of going for 10/10, she accepts a 6 because she’s grateful to not have a 2. She settles for mediocre because mediocre is ok, and ok is better than shithouse.
When we last met, I gently confronted her. “It could always be worse. How could it be better?”
She sat in silence for a while, taking another sip of pinot.
“I want to feel excited about going to work in the morning. I haven’t felt that in years.” We talked about how she might be able to achieve this in her current role, then discussed other options – other positions at the same company, as well as opportunities to go freelance or even do something totally different.
After a while she realized that underneath the gratitude for having a stable job in a cool industry was fear. “I’m afraid of giving up what I have in order to go for something that might be way better. It’s too much to risk!”
“That’s totally understandable,” I topped up our glasses. “What is something small you could do – a conversation you could have, or a website you could check – to explore your options?”
She had a few ideas. “Maybe I could discuss an internal shift with my boss. Just see if that would be possible. And update my resume this weekend, to be ready for other options. It’s totally ancient.”
I smiled. “Awesome.” We toasted to the possibilities.
It’s important to be grateful for what we have – but we should never let that be an excuse to not go for what we want.
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