Life Happens

Excerpt taken from When Shift Happens: Say Yes to Your Next! by Michelle McKinney Hammond


Years ago, I found myself facing massive life changes. Financial fallout. My career seemingly screeching to a standstill. Losing my home and my office. The death of my father. All in a Job-like succession!

I didn’t sit down and cover myself with sackcloth and ashes like Job did. (See Job 16:15.) I couldn’t afford to! I had to make some radical decisions to stay above the circumstances. The luxury of feeling sorry for myself didn’t exist. I had to figure out how to make life work. But where to begin was the question. Putting one foot in front of the other took more energy than ever but I had to keep moving! I had to keep hope alive. Failure was not an option.

It is inevitable. Shift happens. Why? Because growth demands change. Nothing greater can happen if we are not compelled by shifts and changes around us as well as within us. God knows that it is a human tendency to bask in complacency if left to our own devices. Even when we don’t like our lives, the devil you know is better than the one you don’t. We find excuses to stick with the status quo and try to ride it out on a sinking ship.

If you’re honest, you’ve been here before, just with different characters and circumstances.

We mistakenly think that we are alone in our situation and that where we are will last forever, whether good or bad. Neither condition for anyone is rare or permanent. Both affluence and lack go through shifts and seasons of up and down. The stock market is proof of that. From bear to bull and back again. If only we could incorporate the principle of buying low and selling high in every aspect of life! Inevitably, what goes up must come down, and what goes down can only go so far before making the adjustment to rise again.

This is where faith comes into play. Fear and faith are both currencies that will purchase your result. Both are belief systems! They both produce what you choose to focus on. So, which one will you choose to bargain with? Fear that it’s over for you or faith that this setback is merely a setup for an amazing comeback? Your currency of choice—whether fear or faith—will determine how you spend your time and energy. Will you be distracted or determined? Either option will determine your emotions, attitude, beliefs, language, and actions. Your emotions will have everything to do with what you choose to believe based on the thoughts that generated your feelings. Once you’ve settled into agreeing with your emotions, you will make decisions that lead to actions, positive or negative. Those actions have everything to do with your outcome!

Recognize the Season

The biggest mistake one can ever make is to assume that things won’t change. It is easy to believe this when in a euphoric state of accomplishment, when you’re on a roll. But many one-hit wonders have discovered the painful truth that life and the public are very fickle.

When I worked in advertising, one of our mantras was “You are only as great as your last ad.”

Thus, the need for constant recognition of the times and the flexibility to make the necessary adjustments to remain relevant. Once this is mastered, your latter days can indeed be greater than your former because of the constant improvements you are making in your life, your craft, your relationships, and everything pertaining to every area of your life!

I previously mentioned divine discomfort. This is one of the first signs that shift is in the wind. I remember the day and time I thought to myself, in the midst of a flourishing advertising career, that there had to be something more. Yes, I was having a blast flying to New York and Los Angeles, rubbing elbows with the top creatives and celebrities in the field and having access to all the glamourous events as I was being courted for business. I was the hotshot art director, copywriter, and producer on the block. The golden girl. Yet something was missing… There had to be more to life than designing ads that made people thirsty for a Coca-Cola, hungry for a Big Mac, or lusting after a Mustang. Something more … But what was it? Would I have the courage to step out and try something new? What would be next?

Admittedly, I was quite comfortable (although bored) in my career at that point. I had literally been there, done that. Been everywhere, done everything, met everyone. Yet I did not have the courage to step out into the unknown to discover what would really make my heart sing. Why? Because I really didn’t know what that was! I had inklings, but nothing concrete. Nothing that I could solidly grasp and say, “Yes! This is what I want to do with my life!” The small nugget of a dream was there but how to make money and keep my current lifestyle escaped me. These things kept me rooted to the spot. Too paralyzed to move forward. I kept talking myself into being happy where I was. After all, I was the envy of many. The evidence of the struggle inside me was not evident to them. But the little whisper was gaining a louder voice.

Then it happened. I got fired! Yes, fired! Again, a mixture of emotions swept over me. I was scared because my first thoughts were about how this would affect me financially and professionally. Then I felt relief because perhaps now I could pursue those dreams … whatever they were. My boss told me as much.

“Michelle,” she said, “we had to make a decision on who to let go and I chose you because I felt you were the one most likely to succeed if I released you.”


“I know you have other dreams,” she continued, “but you’ve grown comfortable and content, and you’ll never do anything different as long as you are here, so I’m kicking you out of the nest so that you can begin to fly.”

Some people told me it was the nicest firing in the history of … well, firing.

Was I upset? No, I had felt it coming. Not firing exactly but definitely moving on. I had even dreamt about it in vivid technicolor down to what one of my best friends was wearing when I stepped out of her office! Ironically, I had told them about the dream several days before I was fired, and everyone collectively pooh-poohed the idea that I could ever be fired because I was so good at what I did. Yet the feeling was so strong that the inevitable was about to occur that I had begun to pack up my office and take a few choice things home! When coworkers asked about this, I simply said that I felt the need to clean my office and organize my space better. Imagine their shock when I announced that what I had sensed had now become a reality.

Did I kick into action and pursue my dream right away? Of course not! Let’s face it, although many of us long for change, we cling to the familiar. So, you guessed it, the first thing I did was try to find another job just like the one from which I had been removed.

I am saying “removed” because I believe the universe listened to my heart and not my head. Yes, life will create circumstances to make you align with the reason you were created seemingly without your assistance! What you see as the end is merely a detour on God’s map. It is the path to your next.

Order your copy of When Shift Happens: Say Yes to Your Next! by Michelle McKinney Hammond