Lately, it seems, that more and more of my friends and colleagues have voiced ennui and even frustration with their lives. People just don’t seem as satisfied as they used to be. The path they have been walking; some for many years, no longer brings them joy, excitement or fulfillment as it once did. Interestingly enough, many of them tell me that they need to act now to change their lives. The issues they are facing are all different: some personal, some professional, some physical, some emotional. But they all have one common theme. They have come to a crossroad and feel like action is needed.
Crossroad moments often come after some crisis event. Your boss has been riding you about your work, undervaluing your contribution and not appreciating all that you bring to the table. You have so much work in your caseload that you are working longer hours and missing your family. Your spouse/partner has been distant, unappreciative or even cold. You have experienced physical scares, or emotional issues. These things can seem unbearable at the time and lead us to want to make a change…now!
So there you stand, at the four-way stop, peering at your life as if the crux of happiness lay in the next step you take. The problem, it seems, with a crossroad is that, once you find yourself there, you have three choices:
Veer right or left and go in a completely different direction: In other words, quit your job, leave your spouse, make other drastic life changes.
Continue straight on the path you are on unsatisfied but unwilling to make a change.
Or just stand still, frozen in your tracks: shutting down.
Standing still is almost more frustrating than walking down an unsatisfying path. Standing still, sometimes can feel like giving up. Not making a choice, is like making a choice to do nothing.
What do you do with a conundrum like that?
I have come to some crossroads of my own throughout my life. I dare say we all have. And earlier in my life, when I came to those intersections, I pressured myself to make choices. Sometimes the choices I made were really good ones and opened up new opportunities. But sometimes I made poor choices that caused me more problems than I would have faced had I just stayed the original course. So I know what it is like to be facing that moment when you feel like you simply must do something! But from my own mistakes, I learned that immediacy is usually not as imperative as it seems at the time.
Unfortunately, There is no one-size-fits-all answer to dealing with a crossroad moment. The right answer is unique to each of us. But there is definitely a wrong answer! Whatever happens in your life to bring you to a point of making a life change…
Don’t Make a Knee-Jerk Reaction!
Making crossroad decisions without careful consideration is foolhardy and can lead to truly disastrous consequences. And not just for you, but for those who share that part of your life. Don’t let our instant gratification lifestyle dictate how we deal with serious life issues.
Many of the times when I found myself in the middle of a crisis, I had to realize that things didn’t get to that urgent stage overnight. Therefore to attempt an instant “course change” could further damage the stability of the job, the relationship, or even the health issue. I also realized that I am one organism that is part of a larger organism and that drastic life changes I make can also affect my families, peers, colleagues and friends. Stepping out of the crisis to take a bigger look at the picture often helps me know how to proceed.
When I come to a crossroad moment now, I take the time to look both ways. I examine the alternate paths and see what there is to offer. But then I keep going straight… for a bit. I have learned from my own poorly made rash decisions that if I take the time to consider the problem, the decision I make will be the right one. So I keep walking and all the while, I remember the path I have already walked.
I consider what I really want. What caused me to come to the crossroad, where I no longer want to go on? Is the final destination no longer where I want to be? Or am I just unhappy with the current scenery and the condition of the road? If the road has gotten harder to pass,what do I need to be able to make the trip?
I still may veer off the road onto another path, once I have thought out the various detours and what they would mean to my journey. But sometimes I actually find that when I change my thinking and look at the situation from all sides, my scenery changes and I remember why I liked the path to begin with.
Are you at a crossroad?