As my life evolves, and my decisions become more complex or possibly just more unique to my own interests, the pool of people I turn to for advice continues to shrink. I have had a few difficult decisions in front of me these days and I have stumbled, unsure where to turn. So where is this struggle coming from? Is the decision just harder? Do my friends know me less lately, leading to lower ability to provide good insight? Have I done a poor job maintaining viable mentor relationships?
Who are the best people to turn to in times like these?
- Ask the people we respect (for valuable insight)
- Ask the people we trust (they know us best)
- Ask ourselves (and find a way to quiet the mind)
- Ask someone different (for outside perspective)
I recently asked my favourite mentor about a current job opportunity. He led me through a series of questions that I had already thought about. He never gave me any advice. He just helped me think it through. I hung up the phone equally confused as I was prior to the conversation. What the heck am I going to do now, I thought. He was the only one that I felt could give me some clear perspective. He was the only one in a position of seniority and trust that could help guide me through my decision.
My friends are wonderful. They often listen to me rant and rave about my indecision. The pro’s and con’s. The unknowns. The if’s and that’s. They are great sounding boards. They point out plus’s and minuses on the jobs appeal. Could you work weekends? Are you ok working in that location? What do you think of the boss? The conversation usually stops shy of the future career outlook discussion. They barely understand what I do now, how can they forecast what that looks like after a job switch, company change, a bunch of unknowns and a few years thrown in?….
I am sure I have muddied the water for them. The job, itself, is a complicated decision. My indecision about bigger things in my life add to the complexity. My friends ability to “keep up” with my current life goals and interests is probably a chore all on its own.
I have always been one to enjoy change. Pursuing new projects and coming up with new ideas. I am a bit of a adrenaline junkie and that overflows into my professional life on occasion. I like bold, shiny and new. As a kid I would rearrange my room every 3 months in order to feel a change in surroundings.
About a year ago I woke up and felt like I needed a change. I felt there was something exciting and new for me around a corner, but I was not sure what that something was. A new house, a new city, a new job? I took to paper and wrote down all my thoughts. I wanted to buy a jeep, move to the suburbs to save money, or move closer to downtown, travel more, start a new career, quit my job and travel or become an entrepreneur. Clearly my options were quite varied and mostly in conflict of each other! Some of my friends thought I was nuts. “I just don’t know which ideas are serious and which ones are ideas” one said.
They are all ideas and they are all serious! I am an opportunist.
I believe in putting all our ideas out into the universe and then taking the path of least resistance. Things have a way of unfolding naturally and presenting themselves to those who are looking for them.
I took the new job. I have been traveling more. It has been a bit of a blur. I have never regretted my decisions but also don’t think I am currently living my dream life.
Now another new opportunity is knocking. It would move me closer to downtown. I would probably get the Jeep.
Saving money, quitting my job to travel and becoming an entrepreneur would be “abandoned” yet again. At a party recently a friend of a friend commented, “but that is not what you want. You told me you wanted to quit your job and travel. It sounds like you are giving up.” And I immediately felt slightly foolish. I look indecisive I thought. People can see what a mess I am. I have no idea what I want!
A few weeks later on a road trip through Arizona I met two very interesting guys. One had quit his corporate gig to start his own company and now works remotely while traveling around the U.S. The other quit his engineering job to travel around the U.S. with no responsibilities for the next year with the goal of seeing every major national park. Meeting these two guys gave me that traveler high. I have never quite understood that high fully, but I think it partially comes from feeling understood. I often explain my sporadic thought processes, incomplete and out of breath thoughts with friends, and they just stare back at me slightly dazed. These two lit a fire under me. I wanted to ask them questions non stop. When did you decide to do this?, did you have a plan?, how long before you followed through? What is the hardest part? Blah blah blah… Logan & Zach, I hope we all cross paths again!
I had the same conversation that I had at the party, but this time I received a different response:
“I understand Hold… Just don’t give up though. You are a traveler”
There is something wonderful about feeling understood.
This new job opportunity has me intrigued. But it has a lot of draw backs as well. Not sure if it is part of this crazy path I am on, or a bit of a detour.
Time for some tough decisions. I guess the key is recognizing that they are MY decisions to make and that no one can make them for me.