Thursday, July 31, 2003

Accept No Substitute!

Okay, so I like to tell rambling stories I think will make a useful point. If you've got a problem with that, go find another blog.

If you're looking for work and are willing to stretch an analogy a bit, read on.

I once lived in a studio apartment in the city. I was tending bar at the time so was getting home very late, long after all of the other car-driving city-dwellers had parked for the night. As a result, finding a space for my own vehicle tended to be a rather dicey proposition.

One night, I started the usual routine of checking out the most likely spots for parking near my apartment. Nothing doing, so I expanded the circle a bit and continued cruising for a space. Still nothing, so I expanded further.

Twenty minutes later, dog-tired from a night of pouring drinks for other people, I was starting to feel a bit desperate. I was now looking for parking four and five blocks away from my domicile - farther than I'd ever looked before. Although it was not a part of town where people generally cared to come visit of their own volition, safety wasn't really an issue. I just didn't feel like walking that far. When the search pattern had expanded to six blocks, though, I started getting angry.

At forty minutes into the process, somewhere around seven or eight blocks, a huge calm washed over me. The scene had become downright ludicrous. This far away, I was now practically in another part of town, one I probably wouldn't even choose to drive through under normal circumstances. There simply was no way I was going to park there. Whatever other choices I felt I had or did not have, parking this far out (especially in that area) was no longer under consideration. I crossed it off my mental list.

Once I was clear on that, I started back in closer to my apartment. I made up my mind that, however it had seemed earlier, I simply would not even look beyond a two-block radius of my home for parking. It wasn't worth it to me and I had become convinced that getting desperate enough to tolerate something that was otherwise unacceptable to me had not helped. From that point forward, I was determined that I would accept only what I really wanted in terms of a parking place - two blocks from home, no farther.

Under the circumstances, this can seem a terribly foolish demand to make. Did I think the parking fairy was going to come grant my wish every night at 3:30am? Maybe I thought some of the nicer neighbors would save me a spot. Yeah, right.

I won't say it was always easy. There were times when my resolve was sorely tested. Even so, I never went more than 20 minutes after that looking for a place to park. And I always found one inside that two-block radius I insisted on.

I can't say I really know how it worked but clearly it did. I lived there for about a year and the process never failed me, not even once, in all that whole time. I do think I know now what it took to work though, so I'll share that - I'm certain the concept is transferable to just about anything else related to a search, whether you're talking about parking, a place to live, a job, or a spouse.

  1. Absolute clarity - if you don't know exactly what you want, it's tough to know what's acceptable and what's not.
  2. Laser focus - if something doesn't meet your criteria, don't waste your time on it; it's not worth it.
  3. Patience - when it doesn't happen the way you want right away, it's fair to look again at your criteria and change that if it doesn't suit you. Do not, however, be tempted into giving up #2 just because it's taking some time.
  4. Go ahead and believe in magic. Okay, this one is gratuitous. Sometimes, though, the unexplainable happens and it's simpler just to call it magic until it can be explained; if you're at least open to the possibility, it increases your awareness so that it's easier to see things you might have missed otherwise.

When you really want something, what works for you? Send your ideas or your questions to so I can share or respond.

Make a choice to accept only what you truly want in life. Don't waste your time in tolerating anything less.