Crossroads. Careers have these critical moments – when we need to decide on a course of action that will have a greater impact on us than normal. Usually, these moments feel important, and may even cause angst or stress. These times tend to feel a bit heavier than normal and may have a particular depth or meaning for us. Perhaps the crossroad is in relation to a decision on whether to change companies or to embark on a new career path. Maybe it’s choosing whether to quit, disengage, or set a healthy work boundary that counters the intensity and strain you’ve been working under for too long. Over the years, I have developed a simple reference list that has served useful as a tool to point me in the right direction. I hope these prove helpful to you too.


WHEN TO PUSH FORWARD

Feelings & Emotions that Arise

  • “I feel motivated, excited or energized.” (despite feeling temporarily tired or exhausted)
  • “I’m doing something that will greatly benefit myself/my family/my community. The timeframe is bound (limited) and I can see a light at the end of the tunnel.”

External Factors & Common Scenarios

  • Kicking off a new project
  • Starting a new career or new industry
  • Family necessity (fiscal/health reasons/personal reasons)

Key Signs to Watch For:

Two keys here are the time to Push is “Limited/Bound” and that the “Feeling” it evokes within you is overall positive. In essence, even if we feel tired, we still have this underlying feeling or need to move forward. There is something driving us that feels good – somehow, we know that the sacrifice is worthwhile to ourselves and those around us.

Tip for Workaholics & Successful Strivers: Pay particular attention to the time boundary aspect here. We tend to cross over to unhealthy work habits when we continuously overwork and extend our workloads beyond a healthy range. Sometimes what originated as joyful and exciting, becomes strained and stressful. The limited timeframe/bound timeframe is critical for maintaining a healthy and integrated work-life balance.

WHEN TO PULL BACK/STOP

Feelings & Emotions that Arise

  • “I feel exhausted and depleted.” Or “I feel angry or resentful.”
  • “I feel like I’m in a rat race. There is no end in sight. Something feels broken or missing.”

External Factors & Common Scenarios

  • Your health is being negatively impacted.
  • Relationships are strained. Family/friends comment that you are never available for them.
  • Your schedule is often full. You are in a constant state of “busy”.

Keys Signs to Watch For

Often, there will be a feeling of apathy or overwhelm at completing tasks. These are signals that something is not right. The action is to spend some time reflecting on the situation and the options you have to change it. Get really specific and ask pointed questions in order to gain clarity about the problem and why it is occurring (i.e. what/why/how did it get this way/who or what is contributing to it?). Consider alternative solutions and seek support from mentors or respected friends for tips on how they would handle the situation. Usually – the very process of outlining the problem and exploring alternative solutions with others can be uplifting. If this reflection process is energizing, positive, or offers some immediate relief, that’s a clear sign you are on the right track.


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