Have you ever reached a point where you were able to look back and see a series of steps that lead you to your present position?
There's a long series of dots to be connected but surprisingly the brain uses framing and narrative to make the right connections.
Then, we're able to see how we got here.
What do we do then?
First, there's probably some regrets - "if only I'd done this or that...I wouldn't be experiencing this or that..."
Next, there's some level of acceptance (yes, not too different from a grieving process!) and if we're smart, some learning and fortifying of our abilities and mindset.
Finally, we get a chance to come up with a plan for the FUTURE, the things that have yet to be, and this time we can look from the 40,000 foot view to plan with more foresight.
Granted, the high level view inevitably makes the picture low resolution - you're not able to pick out or plan for the details.
That's where about 20% of wiggle room and innovation come in.
Just like a chess board, we walk in with a strategy to defeat the other player. There's a series of moves we have in mind to reach check/mate.
More unpredictable the other player, more we have to be reactive, marshal our resources, and either sacrifice some pieces (so like sacrificing short term gains in our lives) and trying to play a longer game, play for time and survival rather than a quick outright victory.
That job you had in mind might not be available or it might not be as good an accelerator for your career as you thought.
So now what?
The job is not the point, the career is.
Your abilities are not the point, your growth is.
Planning ahead and growing your skillset day by day is the surest way to be more than just a pawn in a game. It gives you stronger moves to make, like a knight, or the ability to go more distance like a bishop or rook.
Ultimately, the strongest piece is the one that has the most abilities and moves - you can dodge, outrun, out-plan the obstacles better than the other pieces on the board, staying one step ahead each time.
And in doing so, even in the worst of circumstances, you might just run out the clock and live to fight another day.
Who knows - a key error by the other player(s) or dramatic change in circumstances might just give you the opening you need to get through and be on safer ground.
Outlasting your challenges is often the only way to success.