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ordinary_kittens t1_ir6enzj wrote

When I was younger, I had a parent that would go on about “serendipity” and how much the good things in life can sometimes be totally unplanned. As a young person, I hated the thought, I hated the idea of not being able to plan my life. You want to work hard and you want to know that your hard work will pay off, right?

But, the older I get, the more I see that hard work is not something that has a linear relationship with happiness, or even success. Yes, you don’t want to underprepare. But a lot of job interviews, or sales contracts, or work/business opportunities, come out of a combination of preparedness as well as totally out of the blue. It’s not enough to be the hardest working person with the most education/credentials/skilled hours under your belt. Sometimes it can come down to building a connection with someone you used to know in college. Sometimes you get a job because the job interviewer is really impressed with your stories about how you backpacked around Europe by yourself. Sometimes you win a business contract in part because you used to play golf with the CFO’s brother and he tells everyone that you’re awesome and smart.

It’s good to want to learn and build skills, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to realize there’s a limit to the success you can have with that approach. Being a balanced human being comes with its own share of opportunities not just to relax, but to meet interesting people you didn’t expect and to discover opportunities you didn’t think about previously.

And you can spend your whole life preparing for the wrong thing. People can end up planning for one type of life only to have a totally different life come their way, after the birth of a child, death of a spouse, unexpected marriage, unexpected opportunity…life can be unexpectedly wonderful or terrible.

If you want to work hard, work hard. But remember to be mindful of how much is out of your control…as the saying goes, we must have the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.