Ask a child what do you want to become when you grow up and the child will spontaneously say things like ‘Doctor’, ‘Engineer’, Pilot, Policeman and so on. A child’s imagination is shaped by simple considerations without getting to understand the ordeals required to succeed in a chosen profession. Most of us would have had a childhood desire to become someone and eventually became someone else due to force of circumstances or due to new career judgments we make as we grow and evolve. Most of us would have jumped into a chosen career path expecting it be the most satisfying journey of our lifetime and the hope of leading a life of comfort, happiness and satisfaction. But the reality is many of us had absolutely no idea about the commitment that needs to be made in order to succeed in our chosen path or become like the top people we admired when we were young. The problem is that we didn’t have the experience, maturity and knowledge to size up the struggles and commitment required to rise up to the person we have imagined us to become. Also our desires change and things that motivate us change throughout our lifetime. So when we start confronting the harsh realities of working in a competitive world where everyone is competing to get to the top fast and where politics becomes a tool of necessity, the job that we believed will make us comfortable looks a lot more uncomfortable to handle. Everything then appears to daunting, be it meeting work deadlines, handling a demanding boss or working long hours or completing a given work on time. Suddenly, the thought of being in a comfortable job appears to be useful for public posturing but not for personal fulfillment.
Should you stay or move on?
Then why would you want to continue to be on this job? The problem is that once we are on a certain path, sometimes the most difficult thing to do is to move away from it or move alongside to let others pass. The hardest thing is to recognize that the path we are on is not headed where we want to be. We are all aware of the phrase “do what you love for a living and you never work a day in your life”. The truth is that if you loved what you were doing, many of the issues you complain about, will be a non issue. The problem is that there is an in-congruence between what you want out of life, the goals that you have for yourself and the simplistic goal of career that you once thought was the end all be all.
Fear of failure is a huge obstacle to overcome
You probably feel a huge commitment to continue on course and not stray. After all, you have already invested significant number of years to get to where you are now and suddenly being at cross-roads challenging yourself to consider new paths becomes a frightening thought. The usual thought that stops you is ‘what if the new path is worse than the current path?’ ‘What if you failed in the new path?’ ‘May be there are brighter spots in the current path in future’. The uncertainty of the outcomes of alternative choices and the prospect of failure usually convinces you to carry on with the current path.
The Fear of Failure is a huge mental block to overcome. From our childhood we have been conditioned to be at the top of the class, to strive for an ‘A’ in all subjects, to get into the best University, to get into the best job and so on. We want to pursue options that are time tested and that guarantees success. Anything that has the slightest prospect of failure is something we wish to avoid.
The biggest failure that anyone can have in life is not following their heart. If your goal is to build a life that is more balanced with family and career, you may have to sacrifice the corner office to get there, but in the end you would have achieved the goals you have set for yourself. They may be completely different goals, each of them achieved through different means and you can consider yourself successful when your decisions have led you to a life of happiness. There is of course a price to pay for every decision you make. If you stick on with a job that you are uncomfortable with then you will pay the price through mental trauma, stress, bad temper, ill-health and so on. If you choose to make a change then there is a price to pay in terms of learning new skills, taking on new challenges and proving yourself in a new environment. There is always a risk of failure but if our minds are focused only on risk then our judgments are likely to be clouded.
Change or not change?
The question that you have to ask yourself is should you be sticking with a job that is hurting your happiness or should you be considering alternatives. Perhaps putting up with your job that you no longer feel comfortable and working harder than before could eventually get you a promotion or a better title, but you would have eventually paid a price for it in terms of lost family time, health issues, mental trauma and so on. It is okay to acknowledge that as time has progressed you have changed, or that your goals have changed. Yes making a change is always uncomfortable. But not making a change is uncomfortable too. So, taking action or no action, both have consequences. So you have to decide which discomfort you are willing to take on. At the end of the day, only you can determine what your end goals are and adjust your career path accordingly. There is only one life. So go ahead and take chances. Sometimes what you fear may not be real. There could be new learning and new awareness in a change. That could be life altering. Don’t worry about what others think and don’t wait for outside approval. There is only one life. So make it memorable and joyful. Listen to your heart and follow the divine guidance coming from your inner voice be it staying or moving on.