Here’s the voice of my many of my clients:
- I want to leave my job and start my own business, but I can’t walk away from the security of a salaried position
- I have visions of making a dramatic geographic move for my career, but my partner wants to stay put (and I want to stay married)
- Why can’t I enjoy my downtime and take a break from work? I crave time off, but when I get it, I’m bored and restless.
Internal conflicts are rampant in career coaching. What happens when seemingly equally compelling voices inside ourselves compete and clash? It turns into a brawl, one where we wrestle with ourselves and try to squash one. We’re looking for the stronger voice – which one will be dominant and prevail in this bout?
But do you know what happens in these knock-down-drag-outs? Someone loses. And it’s always you – an important part of you.
What if – instead of fighting – there was a reconciliation? What if BOTH parts of yourself had important insights to contribute to your next step?
Here’s what I suggest to my clients when they’re standing at a crossroads and they want to go in both directions at the same time:
- Write a script: imagine a conversation – not an argument! – between the two parts of yourself. What would each part of you say, and how would the other respond if each part of you genuinely wanted to GET the other part? Journal it as a dialog. Bonus points for writing one of the parts (the one that feels like a young version of you) with your nondominant hand.
- Ask yourself a peace and reconciliation question: put your mind to work creating a solution, rather than being stuck in the problem. Instead of asking, “Of these two options, which route should I take?” or “What part of myself do I have to give up here?” ask questions like, “What would it look like to have security within a startup venture?” or “What would enrich my marriage AND offer us a shared a adventure that appealed to us both?” or “What would make my downtime enriching?”
- Look backward in time: How far into your past do you need to go before the warring parts of yourself merge? Who were you back then? How old were you and what were you doing? What would your younger self advise your current self?
Standing a crossroads fills us with tension. We get impatient and want to move on and get into action. Of course, we’re restless when this energy surfaces. Nothing’s wrong with you if you’re stuck, chomping at the bit to get out of the starting gate and move forward with your life. Just don’t throw one part of yourself under the bus in the name of forward progress. Tolerate your own discomfort long enough that you’re able to harvest the wisdom in all parts of yourself.