Holley Gerth, author of “You’re Made For a God Sized Dream” has a 2014 Encouragement Challenge going on. For the first week, she’s thrown out the question:
What encouraging words do you want the people you care about
to hear as they begin a new year?
You know what I want to remind each and every one of you, my readers and friends? When times are tough and discouragement is high, remember. . . it doesn’t last forever.
Either it ends, and things go back to normal.
Sometimes it ends with a new normal that is different than the old normal.
And sometimes, you have to get used to this is the way it is and it will never go back to what it was. You can be miserable grasping at what you can’t have or you learn to be content and grateful where you are at. I know this is similar to the one above, but the new normal is a change that after an adjustment, is doable and acceptable. This is more of a devastation that will never go away and all you can do is grieve it and move on.
Now what I’m sharing here is Nancy’s observations. It’s lessons from my life, not anything special from a book or an advanced education (other than my very advanced degree in the school of hard knocks) and it’s certainly not vetted by the supposed experts who supposedly know more than I do how to live a life. No, I’m sharing what I’ve done in my life.
So sometimes a tough time ends and things go back to what passes as normal. I’ll finally get over a cold and lingering bronchitis and have energy again to do something – anything! – after work or on the weekends. I’ll get a bonus at work, pay down some bills, and have a little extra to take a vacation (always so very nice).
During one extended period, after my favorite boy toy quit work to pursue his art and raise our daughter, we had to downsize to a very small house. Interest rates were high, which didn’t help, and our neighbors were obnoxious (loud parties, vandalism, trash, vicious gossip). We stayed for nearly two years and then interest rates went down. We started looking into refinancing the house and realized we could afford to move about ten miles away to a much bigger and nicer house for nearly the same money. It was such a relief to do that and escape that house and neighborhood.
But things don’t always go back to the old normal. The new normal isn’t all that bad, but it is different. That can be hard to accept and adjust to, especially if you really liked the old normal. That was hard for me in my career. At one point, I handled a lot of federal tax audits for my employer (i.e., I defended against the I.R.S.). As my employer was losing money and people left, I picked up more and more responsibility including all the state income taxes. Eventually the company went out of business during a terrible recession. The only job I could find was doing state income taxes. I was mad, I was upset, and I was really unhappy. But I needed to support my family and I took the job doing state income taxes.
It took a long time for me to realize how well that worked out. My new employer was a huge pharmaceutical company. They filed in all 50 states in the United States and were audited by pretty much everyone (no, they wouldn’t let me go to Hawaii to file the tax returns but I did ask). I was responsible for all of it. My employer was fairly derogatory about what I did because the tax dollars were so much larger in the federal and international income taxes and my area was a nuisance that got done because it had to. What I found though was that I was very, very good at state income taxes. I could be an average federal income tax person or I could be an outstanding state income tax person.
The respect in the workplace has improved a lot, particularly with the SEC investigations and the new accounting requirements. Companies who don’t need my skills continue to be rather derogatory about it. But when they need a state income tax person, there aren’t many out there like me and I am well known in my field. The Vice-President that I work for likes to tease me that state tax people have their own little club. I told him it’s because we’re all weird and need to hang out together. It gave him a good laugh that I could poke fun at myself like that.
And sometimes, I have to get used to the fact that normal will never come back again. Several years before I become our main breadwinner, I had a real meltdown that I couldn’t stay home to raise our daughter. I wrote about that in this post here. It was a very hard time in my life to accept that I couldn’t have what I wanted and to grieve the loss of that dream. But I’m glad I didn’t stay stuck on it and that I did eventually move on past it to acceptance, so that I could be happy with my life and grateful for what I had.
Alexander Graham Bell once said:
When one door closes, another opens;
but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door
that we do not see the one which has opened for us.
I encourage you in 2014 to remember that the tough times don’t go on forever. Either they will change or you will change. And that change may not be bad, even though you don’t like it. But hang in there and see it through. It will eventually be resolved.