No matter what profession you are in, there will be times in your career where you will wonder if it’s time for a change. One of the most common phrases I hear in coaching is:
How do you know….
When it’s time to quit your job
When it’s time to find a new firm
When it’s time to ask for a divorce
When it’s time to change professions
When faced with these questions from clients, we work through a three step process:
myths, justifications, and so whats
The myth: there is no predestined “right time” that must be known before we can make big decisions.
What is the benefit of that line of thinking?
It’s like handing your life over to some unknown scheduler, hoping that they will let you know when you can move on. It assumes that there will be a time when the change you are questioning will be easy. It also assumes there will be a time when you can act without any fear or reservation.
Instead, this wait and see approach simply keeps you stuck. It keeps you in the safe familiar. It justifies your unwillingness to do the scary thing and gives you an excuse for not taking control over your life: “It just doesn’t feel like the right time.”
In my experience, those of us that wait to find some certainty that the time is finally “right” to make that big decision only end up getting beat over the head with their own truth.
The truth that they have known all along but that they kept ignoring, waiting for a “sign” that it was the perfect time to act. When we ignore those inklings that we need to make a change and we tell ourselves that we need to wait for the “right time,” life typically just turns up the volume and makes that truth harder to ignore.
You knew the right decision already but you allowed fear to convince yourself that you needed to wait for the right time.
There is no “right time.” If you feel driven or called to do something or make a change, pay attention to those urges. They will not go away. They will just get louder and the messaging typically becomes more painful (so that you cannot ignore it).
The one person that we should innately trust, who always has our back, is ourselves. Why do we ignore her so often and listen to others whose intentions are not always so benevolent? In order to build the life of your dreams, you have to start trusting yourself.
The only person who will join you for every step of the journey is yourself.
So, you might as well start giving her a seat at the table.
The justifications. When we are trying to weigh important decisions, the most important question to ask yourself is “why” do I want to do this. Next, we ask ourselves if we like our reasoning.
It’s that simple.
If your reason for wanting to leave your job is because “It’s too hard…I don’t think I’m cut out for it…I’m not happy here” you have to as yourself if you like that reasoning. Do you feel good about that explanation?
For many of us, these types of justifications are at the root of a lot of decisions. Things get hard. Life will challenge you to grow. These justifications are all based in some sort of fear. Fear of failure. Fear of not being good enough. Fear that you made a mistake.
Furthermore, these types of justifications give away all your power–you imply that your job should give you some sort of happiness. (In case you missed it, happiness is no one’s job but yours.)
You are free to allow yourself to make decisions based upon these justifications, that is wholly your right. But my question is: Do you like your reasons? Do you feel good about your justification?
Be honest with yourself about why you are wanting to do (or not do) something and carefully examine your justification.
So long as you like your reason, you have everything you need to act. From there you simply make a decision and execute. No drama. Just action from a place of authenticity. Simple.
The so whats.
This is the part of the process where we tackle the fear that is keeping us stuck. When we eliminate the drama and get clear about our justifications for acting, the only thing that will keep us from executing is fear. In order to act, we have to take a look at that fear.
If you act and you make the “wrong” decision, so what?
Answering that question will ultimately bring you face to face with your worst case scenario. When we ask “so what?” over and over and over again, we eventually get to the root of the fear:
I don’t want people to think I’m a failure…because then I will believe I have failed.
I don’t want to be embarrassed…because it will mean I have messed up.
I don’t want to admit I was wrong…because it will mean I’m less than.
Facing our worst case scenarios and developing a strategy where we not only survive but THRIVE through those events will dispel the fear that is keeping us from acting.
If we know that we can make a decision, fail, and handle the consequences, there is no longer anything to be afraid of. There is no longer any reason NOT to act.
Don’t let your brain tell you that you can’t handle your worst case scenario. Believing that will keep you stuck indefinitely.
Don’t make your life a merry-go-round of boring and fear-driven decisions. What would your future self tell you to do?