RFL "Insight"

Published on February 28th, 2015 | by Ben Sands

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Bad news…or good? The critical career choice you must make

By Ben Sands – for the latest posts delivered direct to your Inbox, click here

A good friend just shared with me this piece of bad news: he’s doing better at work than he thought.

Why is that “bad” news?

Because he hates his job.

In fact, for well over a year, he’s been telling me that he is going to leave.

Not only has he lost his love for the work he’s doing, he also feels as though he has lost the trust and confidence of the senior leaders in the organization.

After a lot of hemming and hawing, he had finally made up his mind to give his notice during his upcoming performance review.

And then his boss goes and screws it all up.

As my friend described it to me, his manager’s review of his performance was “glowing.”

And, just like that, he started to feel differently about both the job and his future prospects at the organization.

To paraphrase our conversation:

“I still don’t like the job, but [the management team] says they are going to invest more in me and, well, if they do…maybe it won’t be so bad?”

Needless to say, he hasn’t yet given his “two weeks.”

WHAT’S HOLDING YOU BACK?

Over the past year, I’ve been asking nearly every member of the RFL community this question: What’s holding you back from a life you love?

I’ve received 100s of emails back and I am deeply grateful for your confidence.

Reviewing the answers, a few common and important themes have emerged.

One of them, which I refer to as The “Goldilocks” Problem, is epitomized by this note from a reader:

“I get too comfortable and find that things are ‘good enough.’ What if I decide what I really want and don’t get it? Rather than live with that disappointment, I instead drift along in contentment instead of happiness…”

To summarize: You don’t love our current work/life, but you don’t hate it, either. As a result, you are reluctant to make a change out of fear that the pursuit of something “better” will leave you worse off.

Just like in the fairy tale Goldilocks & The Three Bears, your life is “not to hot…but not too cold, either.”

Put another way, there’s just not enough pain in your life right now to make real, lasting, change.

No, it’s easier to just keep doing what you are doing; to choose the discomfort that you know, over that which you don’t.

That’s the situation that my friend finds himself in today.

How about you?

THE CHOICE WE ALL MAKE

This is a choice we all make. The difference is that some of us make it consciously, and some of us don’t.

If you have consciously chosen to simply accept the pain in your life today, to settle for a “Goldilocks” reality, that’s OK.

That said, the Regret-Free Life community isn’t for you.

This is a community for people who consciously choose to lean in to the pain, fear and uncertainty of a new and better reality: a life, a career, a relationship rich in meaning, impact, growth and love.

If that sounds more like you, great. (If you haven’t yet, join our free newsletter).

If you’re not sure (or you haven’t yet made up your mind) that’s fine, but it’s time to decide.

That said, a word of caution: the “regret-free” path is going to be as painful as the alternative, if not more so.

There’s always pain; it goes hand-in-hand with progress.

I liken it to exercise.

For example, I recently started lifting weights again after nearly a year of running, biking and swimming, exclusively.

The morning after my first weight training session, I could hardly lift my arms.

Sarah, my wife, made fun of me (there were a few teasing references to “Hans and Franz”) but I was happy.

The fact that I was hobbling around meant that I had made realprogress in the gym the day before. This was the kind of pain I was looking for; the kind of pain that tells me I am moving forward.

TO SACRIFICE OR SUFFER?

What kind of pain do you want?

Are you willing to continue to simply suffer in order to maintain the status quo; to preserve your “lukewarm” reality?

Or would you prefer to sacrifice? To bravely trade-in the known pain of an “OK” life, for the unknown stress and struggle required to create a better future?

I hope it’s the latter.


About the Author

Ben Sands is an author, coach, and the founder of Regret Free Life. He writes about careers, money, leadership and how to make decisions you won't regret.


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