At A Crossroads? – don’t wait too long

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My last article discussed how we can often find ourselves “stuck” either in our professional or personal life or indeed both and how sometimes just the realisation that we need to take some action to get “unstuck” is the first step to making positive changes in our life.

Another situation we can find ourselves in is facing a crossroads where there are many alternative routes that can be taken and a decision needs to be made as to which path to take. When we are driving a car, or walking and we reach a crossroads we MUST decide a direction of travel at that point unless we want to annoy other cars or pedestrians by just standing in the middle of the road. When reaching a life crossroads however it is a lot easier to hover and procrastinate.

So, what is your personal approach when faced with a life crossroads situation? This can happen at any age. I work with graduates who have just finished university and have several options available e.g. graduate entry level job in big company, go and work for a smaller SME, apply for jobs in total alignment with their degree subject matter or make a complete change as they no longer have interest in that subject three or four years later.

In later life, another crossroads situation can appear in mid-career e.g. Having worked for a smaller company for many years, knowing everyone and having built up a good reputation for the work you do, do you stay put and build on that reputation, enjoy being part of the team or do you apply for jobs in a larger organisation where there may be more career progression and salary scope, alternatively you could go freelance or self-employed and as a fourth option a hybrid model of part time work and other work or personal activity is also an option.

Further on in life many of the people I work with are approaching the last phase of their working life and the crossroads they face can present itself as stay in current role until lucrative pension package kicks in, move jobs into their ideal role before it’s too late, be brave and launch the business they have always dreamt of, reduce hours and enjoy more leisure time, or retire early.

These are just some of the many choices we can face and on one hand it’s great to see how many different routes there are but on another front, having too many options paralyses some people to the point where they just stay put and always wonder in a “what if” way what would have happened if they had taken another route in another direction.

Over the years I have read many inspiring self-development books and added any useful learnings to my own personal toolkit from this reading. One tip I took many years ago that I still use today was from the classic Susan Jeffers book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway… in here she states there is no such thing as a bad decision. I use this when faced with the crossroads situation, take time to consider the options, do a pros and cons list and talk to others but then go ahead and be brave, make the decision and don’t look back. Make the decision on what route you want to take and then set off down in that direction with 100 percent commitment to make it work. Don’t look back or torture yourself with ‘what if I had taken the other route’. If it turns out you took one that doesn’t work out make a different decision at the next crossroads you meet and I have met many successful people who have had to make an occasional U-turn in their lives and its worked out ok in the end.

Momentum – tested

momentumquoteThe forth step of the G.A.M.E model is challenging me personally at the moment and I know when people have given me feedback after having read the book this is the step that we all find difficult at some time in our lives.

When I did triathlon for eleven years I had two injuries that stopped my training and race schedule abruptly one to the back that made running painful and another to the shoulder that prevented swimming. Both injuries were frustrating and learning opportunities at the same time. At the time of typing I have my first serious injury (damage to a bone in my wrist) from Ashtanga Yoga… yes you can get injured doing yoga! When this happens the day to day momentum that existed in quite a routine way is stopped abruptly. Initially I hoped that it was a little niggle that would go away in time with a few slight adjustments to my daily practice however as the pain persisted it became evident I needed some expert advice and investigations. All the time while the pain in the body persists different mental patterns and physical coping mechanisms arise to keep momentum going and motivation intact. My daily morning practice is important to me as my “set up” space for each day and whereas before injury this was enjoyable this was starting to get less so and then questions go through the mind as should you be even attempting this. What is right and what is wrong for us all individually is entirely unique and one we have to take ownership for.

Then there are the inputs from people who surround us both inside and outside of the medical profession that sometimes helps and other times confuse. Again only one person can decide who best to take advice from and when also to stop taking advice and decide on a path, follow that path to the letter and stop googling symptoms as well, that is ourselves. I thought I had learnt from previous injuries on a correct process to follow but I did find myself repeating some of the old behaviours that I thought had long gone eg googling and self diagnosing. The other skill that is needed in this situation, again I am far from perfect on this, is accepting the situation you are in regardless of the daily frustration it causes physically and mentally. On a good day I am ok with this and look to see what I can do rather than what I cant do. On a bad day I can feel sorry for myself and find unhelpful thinking patterns occurring. It is at this time I need to firstly observe myself going down this path and find something to focus on that stops this downward spiral, this could either be connecting with one of my “rays of sunshine” or focusing on another one of my goals or aspects of my life that doesn’t demand my injured wrist eg learning Spanish or working with a new coaching client or reading a new book. I think my main learning this time round as I struggle with this step is focus on what I can do rather than what I cant along with how can I use this enforced adjustment period to focus on things that maybe I didn’t make time for before inside and outside of my Yoga practice. Making use of the “what makes you feel good” lists  I encourage people to create at the end of chapter 6 in http://www.own-it-book.com is also helpful when this step becomes a challenge.

The full book can be found at http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl