How often, when making a decision, do you ask yourself the question: What if I don’t? Not What if I DO – What if I DON’T..?
Following on from yesterday’s post (where I was talking about how I came to the decision to start my own Recruitment Agency over 11 years ago), I spoke about how sometimes when we are trying to make a decision, in order to really confirm that we are going after the RIGHT thing and heading in the RIGHT direction, we need to play out in our mind the exact opposite of this direction.
For example, I’m currently working with someone that has worked in the same company for a long time. Like, a really long time, we are talking over 20 years.
For the past five years, this candidate (I’m going to call her Mary – she’s not really called Mary, don’t worry, this is not YOUR Mary I’m talking about 🙂 ) has been unhappy in her job.
Now, this hasn’t been five years of constant job-searching, don’t get me wrong. It comes and goes, the unhappiness and feeling of discontentment. Sometimes weeks will go by and Mary will realise that she’s not thought about her job search for some time.
And then something will happen one day and the feeling is back. It’s not always anything massive to happen, it could be something relatively small that, if everything else was as it should be, would just be a minor irritation. You know, like a little disagreement with a colleague… Returning from a few days off to see that nothing has been done as planned, or that changes have been made whilst she was away… Just ‘things’ that would once over have been water off a ducks back, but are now more like pins in eyeballs type stuff.
When this happens, Mary starts to feel this mixture of ALL the emotions. She feels angry, disappointed, hurt, frustrated – but determined. Furiously, emotional and determined. She’ll go home, talk to her family about it, have a little cry, say some swear words and (once again) announce how this is the last time she’s been made to feel like this and that she is off at the first opportunity.
She’ll then dig her CV out that she’s not looked at since the last time this happened and realise that it’s not in good shape. It’s not to say that it’s a rubbish CV, she just knows that it’s not in line with what she wants and that it could be better. She’s just not sure how.
Ah well. A CV’s a CV, right? I can explain any missing details or confusion when I’m in the interview, it will be fine.
So she muddles through, adds on a few duties, a few more ‘buzz words’ and hey presto – CV updated, good to go. Jumps on the PC, searches for jobs in her area, finds 25 and applies for all of them. (I’m not going to go into the whole cycle of nothingness again, I’ve already covered that here in this post. But Mary is teetering on the brink of the Jobseekers Groundhog Day.)
Needless to say, none of the 25 jobs that Mary goes for, come through with any results. Either ‘thanks but no thanks’ or just silence. She obviously feels pretty low about this and is questioning why no one is looking at her.
All of a sudden, the idea of getting a new job is becoming very tiring and stressful and Mary isn’t sure she has the energy or the emotional strength for it.
She then thinks about her current job and the familiarity and safety of her comfort zone get her thinking that perhaps it IS better the devil you know. Maybe she’ll stay where she is for now. There’s always the next time.
“Stop it right there, Mary. You’ve been desperately unhappy for FIVE WHOLE YEARS now. This is your LIFE we are talking about! You are worth SO much more than this.”
Is what I said to Mary. She needed a bit of tough love at this point.
I then talked her through a technique I have used myself on many occasions and one that I work with candidates on a daily basis to get some focus and clarity on the direction to head in.
I asked Mary to talk me through her daily routine. Literally, all of it.
- What time she gets up in the morning…
- How does she travel to work?
- How long does it take to get there?
- Where does she park?
- What’s the first thing she does when she gets there in the morning?
- Is she the first in the office or are people already in? Who is in?
- What’s the atmosphere like?
- How she feels as she’s heading through the office doors?
- What are her daily tasks and how does she prioritise them?
Ending with the question of all questions in the world of candidate support (in my world, anyway):
- How does she feel on a Sunday evening?
Mary dutifully goes through all my questions and answers them (wearily).
I then ask her to think ahead to one year on from Today and imagine she is STILL doing this. To imagine she is still living this work life that she is desperately unhappy in.
No. Adamantly, Mary realises that no, she can’t carry on doing this.
I then ask if she is prepared to start thinking about where she DOES want to be this time next year and I can suddenly see something change. Something has clicked and I know that Mary is finally ready to think about things in a different light, to see this as an exciting adventure rather than an emotionally draining chore.
Sometimes, in order for you to get in the right mindset about where you want to be, you have to really go there (in your mind only, of course) in the opposite direction. Think about where you don’t want to be, who you don’t want to be or what you don’t want to be doing.
This technique doesn’t work for everybody but for those that it has worked for, it’s been really powerful and a fantastic transition to see.
If you need guidance on the direction you want to head in (or not) then drop me a line and we’ll get you on the right track.
PS: Sorry for the depressing image for this post. Would you believe that the picture below was taken from the same window at exactly the same time as the above? Just from a different angle. Moral of this PS? Sometimes when it seems to always be dark and stormy, we need to remember that the Sunny side is always there somewhere. We might just have to turn ourselves to a different direction to see it.