Year-in-Review Question: Would I be happy with 10 more years of this?


One of the things that frequently keeps us stuck in what doesn’t work is an overly narrow view of what we’re experiencing.

Let’s say you’re unhappy with your work. You know you need to make a change, but the idea of actually taking action on that kicks up a bucketload o’ fear and discomfort.

And when that fear comes up you automatically put it on a scale. Maybe consciously, maybe unconsciously. “Which of these feels more painful? The job I dislike, or the fear and uncertainty of making a change?”

All too often the fear ends up feeling heavier, and so nothing changes.

Make sure you’re making the right comparison

Frequently, the trouble is that you’re not comparing the right things. You take a look at the knot of fear that grips your stomach when you think about making a change, and compare it to the low-grade irritation you feel spending another day at work. Guess which one feels more intense?

But that’s not an accurate comparison. Unless you’re so excruciatingly unhappy that you’re not even sure you can say, “It’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick,” the discomfort you feel any given day at work is never likely to weigh more than the fear of the unknown and potential for failure.

But think about what not making a change really means. It means you’re committing not only to another day slogging through the irritation of an ill-fitting job, but also to the cumulative effect, year after year, of a job that chafes.

So to make an accurate comparison on that scale, you need to keep adding day after day of not being happy at work, year in and year out. It doesn’t take too long for that to get pretty danged heavy.

10 more years?

With all that in mind, a great year-in-review question is, “Would I be happy with ten more years of this?” If the answer is yes, great! If the answer is no, that’s a good sign you have some changes to make.

Here’s one thing I know. If the answer to that question is no, if you don’t commit to making a change for the better odds are really, really good that ten years from now you’ll look back and say, “Crap! I can’t believe I just spent the last decade tolerating this.”

Even if you can’t make a wholesale change with the flip of a switch, you can start taking steps. What one step could you take today? This week? This month? Don’t get caught up in the overwhelming bigness of whatever change you’re contemplating. Just take one step, and then another, and allow them to add up over time.

While it certainly happens, the odds are against a bad situation magically getting better by itself. You can either choose to make a change, or commit to living with it indefinitely.

I used work as an example, but you can apply this question to any area of your life. Relationships, health, life balance, etc.

So what do you think? Would you be happy with ten more years of this? If not, what’s your next step?

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

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