Late this past fall I was driving to an appointment when a call came in from a very good friend. I was pretty sure I knew what he was calling about. For the last year and a half, he had been struggling with a decision to leave his company and start anew. It was an excruciating decision for him. Feelings of loyalty and worry that the company just wouldn’t be the same and might even fail – haunted him. He was particularly concerned with his business partner, knowing how much pressure she was under at home and knowing the news of his departure would be but one more problem she would have to deal with. It wasn’t that things were that bad – he reasoned with himself. Things were actually pretty good. But over time he had lost his passion, lost his energy, and was dreading going into work each day. Making matters worse he just had a physical and his doctor told him his cholesterol was off, he was gaining too much weight, and he would be well advised to reduce the stress in his life. He was stuck, between two seemingly competing forces – the pull from his responsibilities and obligations to his organization on one side, and from what could only be described as life’s force, pulling him away on the other. It was tearing him apart and something would have to change.
So, I wondered, as the phone rang for the second time while I crossed the Key Bridge from Washington, DC to Virginia on my way to a coffee meeting, had he done it? Had he finally decided to leave it all behind and launch into the unknown?
Less than two years ago I was struggling too. My passion and interest in the work I had been pursuing for 15 years was waning considerably and I had a hard time putting my finger on an exact cause. My feelings seemed to be a soup of emotions, many ups and downs and full of conflicting ideas about what to do about it. Perhaps what complicated things the most for me was the fear of facing the prospect of such a significant, unknown change. At times I felt ashamed I was even thinking about it given that by all reasonable measures, my life was amazing. Yet, I knew I was losing my way and I would have to dive deeper into the unknown to find it again.
All of us reach these points in our personal and professional lives. And while not every juncture is as high stakes as the narratives above, some are. Sometimes this unique intersection looks like a simple choice between two very attractive options. Other times the choice seems more sinister, with the unknown path having an overly dark influence in how we think about our possibilities.
Regardless if you’re at a mini crossroads, or at a major life-changing decision, in 2020, it’s time to make the variable of that decision be the choice that best revitalizes our lives in the most meaningful way.
But how? Here are 3 quick steps I’ve been using that work well for me.
Step 1: Define the change you want to see
Be specific. Do you want to be more profitable? Do you want to invest in more meaningful opportunities? Have different experiences? Deepen relationships? Meet new people? Spend more time by yourself? What is meaningfulness to you? Put your oxygen mask on first and when you do, what do you see? Stop here until this is clear.
Step 2: Identify the non-negotiables.
Just as important as defining what you want to change, is defining what you don’t. There are core pillars that work very well for you. What don’t you want to mess with?
Step 3: Spend more time in your creative zone to find the answers.
Consider, finding deeply meaningful work, investments, and opportunities that really make you sing takes as much time now as it did when you started and succeeded the first go around. Inspiration and creativity flow best when you’re “in the zone.” Now what do you need to do to get in the zone and spend a lot more time there?
So, I did finally answer the phone that afternoon. It wasn’t the news I was expecting. He called to tell me his business partner called him in for a meeting and told him she was exercising her right to force a sale. To him. He too had that right, but it was a first come first serve scenario and since he didn’t move first, he lost that first opportunity and would now need to respond. His situation just got a lot more complicated. It turns out he misjudged the most important variable. Time.
If you’re sitting on a big decision, weighing the pros and cons, deciding this or that, I say – move on that decision now. Time, as it turns out, may not be on your side. Make the decision to do what you must to invest in revitalizing your life in a deeply meaningful way in 2020.
What decision are you going to make? Share is with us; we’d love to know if this resonates with you.