As a young high school teacher, many years ago, I once made a highly unromantic observation to a class of senior psychology students. Attempting to make a point about relationships and stages of development, I observed the following:

We will marry (or enter into a committed relationship) the first acceptable partner we meet when we decide that we are ready to do so.

As I said, that sounds pretty cold. But think about it: why would we wait for the SECOND acceptable partner, when we have decided to move forward in a relationship? The only plausible explanation is that the first person wasn’t acceptable after all.

The seeming randomness of one of the most important decisions of our lives may be disconcerting. It certainly debunks the romantic notion that there is one perfect partner in the universe for us and that our task is to search for him (her). Instead, it implies that there are (were) several positive partner options for us on the planet, PROVIDED we are bringing the requisite traits of maturity, capacity for insight, and wisdom to the coupling.

The failure of some choices actually lies in the erroneous focus of the person making it. We believe that success in a relationship depends upon choosing the right mate. Just the opposite is closer to the fact. Success depends more upon BEING the right person.

Extending this principle to other venues, we may similarly believe that career success depends upon choosing the correct occupation or going to work for the best company. We may see residential happiness as a function of moving to the most hospitable town or purchasing the perfect home. In reality, a person can build a rewarding career with many different employers, come to enjoy the virtues of many different communities or cities, and decorate a home to become an ideal refuge in a variety of settings. Following this principle, we could also find happiness with myriad partner choices.

The significant variables are timing and maturity. Is our serious partnership choice occurring too soon, meaning that we lack the wisdom and maturity to pick the right person for the right reason? At the other end of the developmental spectrum, is a career change (or retirement) happening too soon or too late?

In summary, it could be concluded that success and happiness, be it in a relationship or career choice, is more a function of timing than the decision itself. A failed marriage, which began at age 17, probably had more to do with WHEN you wed rather than WHO you married. A young and immature new employee may fail at a company that he might have led had he joined it years later.

When reflecting on some of your past decisions, think about who you were WHEN you made that decision. Consider the timing of the decision as well as the decision itself. It’s more about WHEN than WHO or WHAT. As you reflect upon past important decisions and the outcome of those choices, both successes and failures, was it about the choice itself or the timing of the situation and your level of maturity when you made it? Learn from the past. Tick-tock; Tick –tock; it’s really all about the timing.

Right time, right place, right people = success. Wrong time, wrong place, wrong people equal most of real human history. Idries Shah- Reflections