Recently I’ve had some great opportunities come my way. International press trips, speaking gigs, offers of work from editors and high-paying corporate gigs. These are things that a year ago or even six months ago I would have jumped at. But lately, I’ve realised something very important about these opportunities.
The most important thing I’ve (finally) learned about opportunity
Not so long ago, I would have moved heaven and earth to be on a particular editor’s list of go-to freelancers.
But a month ago when that editor emailed me to ask if I’d like to take on a particular story for her, I said no.
And funnily enough, I didn’t get the guilts about saying no or even have that crushing question of ‘is she ever going to ask me to write for her ever again?’
I didn’t get those feelings because the story wasn’t the right fit for me.
I wasn’t the right writer to pen the story for her and I told the editor that.
In the past I probably would have fallen into the trap of believing sayings like, ‘fake it until you make it’, or ‘don’t look a gift horse in the mouth’.
So I, because I would have been excited by what the opportunity meant, would have said yes.
But there’s a difference, isn’t there?
When I think back to those times, I realise I wasn’t excited by the opportunity itself, but by what it meant.
That an editor was coming to me.
In the past I would have ignored that my gut telling me that it was the wrong opportunity.
I conflated the idea that I could write the story with I should write the story.
And I would have jumped in.
Only to regret it.
Only to (probably) under deliver.
Only to think that I had to say ‘yes’ to every opportunity that comes along because freelance writers should be grateful to have incoming work.
It’s taken me a long time to realise that just because I have an opportunity doesn’t mean I have to take it.
I am sure that you, dear reader, are much, much more evolved than me and that you already know this, because as I type these words, it sounds so basic.
If it’s not the right opportunity, it’s not a good opportunity.
It’s just an opportunity.
An opportunity is something that is possible.
The strength for me has been realising that yes, my dream about being invited on a press trip, or being offered a huge piece of work or whatever the opportunity is, is indeed possible.
But maybe I don’t want it because it’s not right.
And you know that old saying that opportunity only knocks once?
Well I can assure you that it doesn’t.
You know how I said ‘no’ to the article that was a wrong fit for me?
Less than a week later, a wonderful offer that was exactly in my wheelhouse was in my inbox from the same editor.
Do you struggle with feeling like you have to say ‘yes’ to opportunities, even when you know they’re not right for you?