One common theme I have noticed from coaching young adults experiencing the quarter-life crisis is that our generation seems to put an enormous pressure on making the ‘right’ decision.
I resonate with this desire entirely. I remember leaving university and wanting to learn about every single industry and job type before making a decision. How else would I be able to know I was making ‘the right choice’?
This perfectionist mindset is incredibly destructive because we are essentially saying ‘I don’t want to make a decision until I know it is the right one’. This inevitably leads to putting off making any decision at all because nothing ever feels ‘right’ enough. This mindset causes us to approach the job search with such heaviness from the fear of making the ‘wrong’ choice.
The problem is that when we are early on in our careers, or even choosing our first job, we are still working out what we like and dislike. We don’t know what ‘right’ looks like yet, so even if a great opportunity hits us in the face, it is possible we won’t even recognise it!
So how can we soften our approach to choosing a direction in life?
- The right choice doesn’t exist. We have a highly romanticised idea that there is only one right path for us. In reality, there are probably thousands of paths that will make us happy and fulfilled. Throughout education there seems to be a right and wrong for everything, but reality does not operate under these rules!
- Nothing is permanent. If you make a choice that doesn’t live up to your expectations, you are not stuck with it forever. The average person changes jobs 7-12 times in their life, so you have 7-12 attempts!
- We may never get a sign that something is ‘right’, sometimes it requires a leap of faith. Many of us seem to wait for some kind ‘ah-ha’ moment that will signify the right path. This does not always happen, sometimes we just need to commit and leap.
- Reflect on what is important to you. There is no right option, but that does not mean we are totally blind. Søren Kierkegaard said ‘leap of faith yes, but only after reflection’. Get a coach, ask yourself the big questions and work out whether your options are aligned with your values.
We often think that when we make a decision, all other doors will close to us. This can be scary because it feels like we then can’t go back. What we forget is that from where we stand we just can’t see the doors of opportunity the other side. Doors may close, but only to be replaced with new open ones.