A fly rests on a closed window. The outdoors is but a pane of thin glass away. Yet, no matter how many times they slam against the barrier between them, they can’t reach it. The sad truth is, they never will. By the time they realize their mistake, their life will be over. Thus is the plight of the fly. A solution certainly exists, but they would never even think to consider it. Their goal is right there. They can see it. They just can’t reach it for some reason.
To get outside, they would have to leave that window. To turn their back to the goal that seems so near.
They would need to traverse over to the other room, navigate through the air duct system, and, after much trial and error, find the one path that leads to fresh air. The fly doesn’t have enough time. Their last few moments will be spent in desperate confusion, slamming against the invisible obstacle before them.
The solution is obvious to us, but it isn’t to the fly. In the same way, there may be things in your life you dislike doing that are so subtle in nature, only an outsider would be able to point out. Here are four such things.
A pill for your troubles
At 20, I convinced my doctor I had ADD. To be fair, I thought I did have it… or at least I wanted to have it. I was struggling in school, couldn’t focus, and was often distracted. Taking a pill to enhance my concentration was ideal.
I started taking medication. Flashforward to me experiencing very real side effects not long after. As it turned out, I didn’t have ADD. The result was that my mental health got a boo-boo that took years to heal. The doctor may have prescribed it, but I was entirely to blame. It was my decisions, my convincing, that caused my problems.
In hindsight, I couldn’t focus because I hated my classes.
I was struggling because I had no desire to be there. College, it turns out, was not my thing. Something I didn’t realize until long after I had graduated. The lesson: if you can’t concentrate on what you’re doing, it’s possible it’s because you dislike it. Your mind would rather be doing anything else than thinking about what’s in front of you.
I sat in the back of the lecture hall. The professor droned on and on. That’s right. Another example from college.
The room was filled. Students watched the professor intently. When he spoke, their fingers flitted about. Notebooks were being filled, Word docs were being typed, learning was happening. And there I was. In the back of the class. I had my laptop open alright. But before me was no Word doc. Rather, I had downloaded a GameBoy emulator and was playing Pokemon.
While my peers were learning, I was doing everything I could not to.
Obviously, it came as no surprise when I failed the class. Coincidentally, it was that accounting class that I sought the ADD medication for. One bad decision after another. If only I had known. The lesson: if you do whatever it takes to escape the present moment, it might be a sign that that’s not a moment you want to be present in.
The cashier’s advice
“Would you like a box?” I knew the answer before she even replied. Of course she’d want a box. They always want a box. I checked the time. Three minutes had gone by since I last looked at my watch.
“Can I give you some advice?” the cashier I was helping asked me. The woman with her cart full of boxes was now making her way to the exit. “That’d be great!” I said with too eager a smile. I was still under new employee probation at Costco and was looking to make a good impression. “Don’t wear a watch,” the cashier said, “It will make the time go by even slower.”
I furrowed my brow, thinking about her advice as the next customer approached. “Would you like a box?” I asked, more out of obligation than curiosity. As they left, I took the watch off my wrist. From that day on, I never wore a watch there again.
The lesson: if you feel the need to check the time every ten seconds, it’s possible you dislike what you’re currently doing.
Please don’t look at me
I was totally exposed. Anyone that walked up behind me could see I wasn’t working. Well, not working for the company at least. Rather, I was spending as much time as I could building my app startup.
The internship paid me well and I never had anything to do, so I figured, why not try to grow my business at the same time. I never ran this past the company though. I just assumed they would disapprove.
So instead I was sneaky. Sneaky in the way a toddler eating a cookie before dinner is sneaky.
I placed a mirror at my workstation so that I could see people approaching from behind (It didn’t work. I’d always forget to glance at the mirror.). I would avoid asking people if they needed help with anything. Oh, and I pretended to look busy. I was always pretending to look busy. The truth was that I actually was busy, but for my company, not theirs. The lesson: if you feel the need to hide from all people and responsibility, it’s possible you dislike where you’re at.
Subtle signs that you hate what you do
It’s not always clear that you dislike what you do.
Sometimes it’s not until you get some years between you and it that the signs make themselves known. Hopefully now though you won’t have to wait as long. Instead, you can use your newfound awareness to make a change.
For your reference once more, four subtle signs that you hate what you do are:
- You can’t focus on what you’re doing.
- You try to escape the present moment.
- You check the time frequently.
- You hide from all people and responsibility.