Fork in the Road: Decisions, decisions, decisions
Credit: KIEFERPIX / THINKSTOCK
What do you do when you're unhappy at work and you're faced with a few too many decisions to make?
Many of us have been indoctrinated with a laundry list of goals we are supposed to reach by a certain age. Moreover, many of us have concrete ideas of what we should be doing with our lives and what will supposedly lead us to a life of happiness.
There is nothing wrong with having goals or dreams; however, when either leads to an inflexible predetermined life course, it rarely works out in your favour. In other words, life comes to you and maintaining tunnel vision could prevent you from seeing other opportunities that you may have never considered for yourself.
This summer proved illuminative for me. For the past several years, I have been working at a dead-end job. While I gathered a fair amount of satisfaction from the position in knowing that I was truly valued, the reality was that there was no possible upward mobility in my former place of employment given the fact that it only had two paid employees: myself and my boss.
Although I was saddened at the thought of leaving, I knew it was time to move on. For months, I responded to various job postings only to be repeatedly disappointed by the unsatisfactory offers I received. The grand next step that you hear about so frequently seemed to be forever out of reach.
Suddenly, I had three promising prospects and the problem of finding a job was replaced with deciding which one I wanted. What made the decision difficult for me was each potential opportunity appealed to a different aspect of my personality and career goals.
While one offer allowed me to work within the creative industries, another allowed me to upgrade my administrative and managerial skillsets, and the third offered the security and higher compensation of the public sector.
After numerous sleepless nights, I made my decision. Despite the appeal of the stability, room for growth and greater compensation offered by the second two offers, I needed to allow my creativity time to flourish within the first job offered.
Though it seemed ideal, I am sad to tell you that it only took a couple of hours at the new job to realize I made the wrong decision and lost out on two other opportunities, which would have been better suited for me.
Why did I allow myself to be led by my right brain even though I knew instinctually it was the riskiest move? Why – when I supposedly got what I wanted – was I miserable?
It comes down to one simple answer: we think we know ourselves better than we actually do.
Prior to getting a career-driven job, I pursued the arts and achieved several noteworthy accolades. The sad truth, however, is that there is increasingly less money to be made in this field and given my life goals, I needed to find a means of actually making a decent living.
Without a promise of financial security, I shelved my artistic self in pursuit of a steady career, hiding from my employers the fact that I had ever won awards or been featured on magazine covers. Living in such a manner made me feel like I was not being authentic.
Given the fact that my previous jobs had my inner creative side living in a shadow, I am sure you can also see why I jumped at the opportunity to be employed where my artistic background was considered an asset even though it was the riskiest of the choices.
It was when I realized I am more left brained than right brained when things went wrong. I was committed to a vision of myself as exclusively creative and for that reason I lost out on two amazing jobs and lost sight of the fact that I have many strengths in other areas.
Among the most important attributes of a successful work environment are organization, clear expectations, communication and the ability to work independently. The creative job failed on all four.
The lesson learned here is that the successful navigator of life is open and willing to accept and welcome new possibilities, especially with respect to one’s self-concept.
A mere two weeks following this debacle, I was offered a position that was more appealing than all three of the aforementioned prospects. Patience is a virtue, my friends.