Do you know what an AFGO is?
A colleague of mine taught me this acronym for Another #$@&%! Growth Opportunity.
Life is full of AFGOs, and relationships can be a particularly rich source of opportunities for you to decide how you want to handle yourself when the going gets tough.
This is true in all relationships: with friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, and of course, with romantic partners.
Jim* was telling me about his marriage.
“We haven’t had sex in a while, and I was thinking of initiating last weekend, but she was in such a bad mood. It was clear she wasn’t going to be interested so I just shut down. Then I got resentful, and angry, and cold, and we had a rotten weekend. And of course,” he added ruefully, “there was no sex.”
“What made you choose not to initiate?” I asked.
“I told you, I just knew she’d turn me down. I could tell from her tone, from her body language. She was angry about something that went wrong at work, and I just knew she’d say no.”
I push him a bit. “So you didn’t want to check that out with her?”
Jim and I have talked about this before, how he makes presumptions about someone else’s feelings, and gets all worked up about his presumptions, without talking with the other person about what’s going on.
Jim nods with recognition, but sticks to his position. “Look…I’m not interested in having her yell at me, or turn me down.”
“You’re right, that could happen,” I answer. “But here’s the thing. You do this in other parts of your life, not just with your wife. You don’t go after what you say you want, or speak up about it, because you think you’ll be rejected, or will have some kind of confrontation.”
“At least this way, I keep myself safe.”
“That’s true, in a way,” I agree. “But you also keep your world limited.”
“Meaning what?” he asks.
“Meaning that you keep passing up opportunities to get better at handling confrontation and rejection. They’re part of life, and if you avoid them, you stay in a very small place.”
Instead of doing what he has done for most of his life, getting mad inside and shutting down, Jim could decide to look at the weekend’s events as an AFGO—a chance to do something outside his comfort zone. Talking with his wife might be a rocky conversation, but he will start learning how to advocate for himself; and will get better at tolerating disappointment, anger, and pain.
The more you can do these things, the more possibilities you will have in life.
We all face the same issue: Tolerate discomfort for the possibility of growth, or avoid challenge and risk stagnation.
Are you tired of the status quo in your own life, but don’t know how to do things differently?
Are you trying to figure out what moves you want to make, are willing to make, or are capable of making?
If so, give me a call or email me. I’ll be glad to work with you, to help you get unstuck and find ways to move forward.
Even though doing so may seem scary or impossible right now, you can learn to make the most of AFGOs, using them as opportunities to live a fuller, more meaningful, and more satisfying life.
* Name and identifying details changed.