Whether it’s in our home life, academic life, or career, we all eventually come to an inflection point. This can be a fork in the road where we have a personal-professional dilemma of choosing between home and work. It can be the culmination of our frustration with a current job and a decision to try something else. Or it can be the end of one era, say, where we graduate or finish a contract and are left wondering what comes next.
This is an inflection point, that “so what’s next?” moment, and it can be daunting to all of us. We can all feel threatened, wondering who we are or what our purpose is, and feel stymied into insecurity and indecision. Don’t worry, though. We can even prepare for these unstable moments of instability with these three practices.
Facing inflection points can be emotionally overwhelming. Just like an athlete training for a game, emotionally train for these stressful moments and build some strong self-awareness. Right now, make a practice of recalling how you reacted to your last inflection point and how you handled it. When you were offered a new position at a different company, were you overwhelmed? Did you make a knee-jerk reaction, or did you procrastinate? Being aware of our past behaviors and habits can help you anticipate your next inflection point and learn how to compensate by, say, setting a decision deadline if last time you procrastinated.
Being decisive doesn’t mean being quick. You shouldn’t make snap decisions without being informed and having considered all your options and desires. Avail yourself of all your available resources. Talk to your friends and family for emotional support or to help with an interview. Talk to former colleagues or classmates about what they might be doing next or know about. If you need time or money for another opportunity you know is coming around, consider people who might be able to help with funding. If you’re fresh out of school and need a job, it doesn’t always pay to jump at the first prospect without taking your time to look under every rock, or on every job site.
Every moment of change is a moment to learn. Taking the time to treat a disrupting moment as a learning opportunity may seem counterproductive, but instead of making a snap decision, you could discover a better answer by studying a moment. Stepping back and taking note of all aspects of a new job will help more logically assess it as a new prospect and weed out factors that you don’t like. Even if you miss one opportunity, this method of thinking can help you create a framework of deal-breakers and must-haves for the future.
Once you’ve learned to regulate, resource, and reorient, you’ll be better prepared emotionally and intellectually to respond to your next inflection point and pick your perfect path.