My dear friend Emma* is making a career switch and has been interviewing for jobs in fields that have long interested her. In describing the process, she told me that one perspective employer had her “jumping through hoops” with continually changing requirements.
After our call, I thought a lot about Emma’s use of that particular expression and about how most people I know, including me, are jumping through hoops on a daily basis. Often, we do so without truly understanding if the requirements make sense at all, or if they have been in our lives for so long that we neither notice nor question them.
While I do not enjoy the experience of renewing my driver’s license at the department of motor vehicles, or of going through airport security screenings before a flight, I understand these hoops. Thinking about them, though, was a distraction from the REAL question that finally came to mind – through which hoops am I automatically jumping every day without ever asking “Why?” The floodgates opened and immediately I realized that I invest a fair bit of time and energy each week doing things because others expect me to do them. It was a revelation.
In previous posts, I’ve written about saying “no” rather than agreeing to do something we do not really want to do… or about considering how we invest our precious time and energy. But these are conscious choices. What I realize now is that I make unconscious choices every day (literally every day) to repeat an old pattern of automatically putting others’ needs before my own. With this new awareness, I notice family members and close friends who are unconsciously jumping through invisible hoops, too.
Now, I have begun to notice the hoops and my choices throughout the day. I ask, “Whose hoop is this, and why am I jumping though it?” The answers often surprise me.
*Her name is not actually Emma, but she is a dear friend.