A year or so ago I listened to Scott Adams’ “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big“. It was encouraging on many levels, not least of which were Adams’ description of utilizing his experience in corporate America to create the successful “Dilbert” comic. Nestled in Adams’ story was a short chapter on affirmations. I wasn’t familiar with the concept. After listening to Adams recount his experience I was intrigued.
“What the hell?” I thought. “I’ll try it”.
And I did.
Let me back up for a moment. An affirmation is, from my understanding, a phrase or phrases one repeats to themselves at regular intervals. The phrase could be spoken or written. It’s a wish or an unmet goal. Having read nothing else on the topic I’m sure my description is curing the toes of hardcore believers in affirmations. Like a person who’s tried green tea a few times and says it all tastes “grassy”.
There was something I wanted. Something I’d wanted for several years with no clear path. The obstacle seemed too big to overcome. I wanted a promotion. The person in the role showed no interest in creating a vacancy, even after a recent graduation and a promising degree in another field. Nevertheless I started repeated to myself “I will be the next manager in that role.” Not every day, but often. I set a time frame for the change to happen.
Shortly before my designated cut off date my obstacle was promoted to another role. The position I wanted opened up. Only two people applied. Myself and another manager in my group. Soon afterwards I was told the other guy withdrew his name. I was offered the role.
Adams’ words about affirmations rushed into my mind as I was sitting in my boss’ office. As he explained my new responsibilities I kept going back to the words repeated to myself so often those previous months. How could this be? Would it work again? Was it weird or creepy? I couldn’t make heads or tails of what had transpired. So I decided to try it again.
The second affirmation wasn’t as concrete as the first. I knew I wanted to press on, develop more professionally, and increase my salary. I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I figured I’d aim for my boss’ position. Half a year later it looked like my second affirmation might become a reality when my boss was placed on temporary assignment doing work he loved. There was talk of the temporary status changing to permanent. A few more months passed by. I prepared my resume. I learned what I could about his responsibilities. But then…
The decision was made to eliminate the position. I was bummed. But I kept on reminding myself, though not as frequently, of my new affirmation.
Soon thereafter a new opportunity, not a job, was offered to me. Would I be interested in assisting R&D on a project? Would I have the time? “I’ll make the time” was my response. And that’s what I did. With support from my management team I worked with R&D on a new software feature. A month later several opportunities to join the R&D team were posted. I applied.
Last week I signed the offer letter. The first week of October I’ll be switching gears, from management to Business Analyst.
I’ve been mulling over all the professional changes these last two years. What should I attribute it to? Was it the affirmations? Was it luck? Am I that good?
I’ve come to the conclusion it’s a combination of factors. I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed but I get the job done. And I am always, always, honing my skills. It’s practically an obsession with me. I was in the right place at the right time. But what of the affirmations?
I don’t believe anything supernatural occurred via my affirmations. I don’t believe repeating the words I chose (or any words for that matter) rubbed a genie’s bottle and granted my wish. No, I think it was much simpler. I think the affirmation is simply a lifehack, or a way to trick the brain into action. Or as Adams’ says, a way of filtering the signal from the noise. It could be the opportunities were always present. The affirmation simple attuned me to them. And when the opportunities presented themselves I responded.
When my last post hit Facebook a friend asked if I’d ever read the quote “At the moment of commitment the entire universe conspires to assist you“. I had not read it before, but I appreciated the quote (and the time this person took to read my post). I don’t believe the entire universe was rooting for Team Jeremy. What I believe is when the commitment was made I saw the universe through a new lens.