A crossroads

I wonder how many of us have to face a crossroads whether at work, home, spiritually, emotionally, financially or in our relationships?

Looking back on my own career, I wish that I had been able to go into a Woolworths type organisation and have a pick and mix of careers for a day or a few hours. Wouldn’t that have been a blast – the virtual career?

I think top of the list (when I was sixteen) would have been a fighter pilot, followed closely by an astronaut. The issue is that in most cases we have very little if any appreciation of what one path offers over something else. I had reached a crossroads when choosing my O-levels and decided on science because my dad and brother had chosen that route and I figured it would be right thing to do. I skipped all the usual humanities stuff – English Lit, History and Languages – and instead immersed myself in all the sciences. It was fine to a point but heck it was dull for a lot of the time and the only thing I really enjoyed was drawing which should have given me a clue that maybe I wasn’t cut out for engineering.

Things turned out for the best in the end but it took me a long time to find my niche, whereas I think if I could have had some better input early on I am sure that I would have progressed my chosen career path just a little bit quicker.

Make sure that you understand the full picture (you can never understand the entire picture – indeed as life is an evolution you can never hope to achieve this enlightened state) before you make any decision. The internet helps nowadays but it is just important to speak to some real people.

I have lost track of the number of people who I have spoken to about the legal profession and their reason for joining it and the answers are lame – as lame as a two-footed donkey. I get the sense that in the majority of cases there is a sense of meaningless ritual involved – my father is a lawyer or my uncle is this that or the other in law. SO WHAT. Live life a little; do some pro bono work; do something with people but for heaven’s sake don’t just drop into law like some comfy chair.

OK so you have the ammo but what do you do with it? Apply it. How? Does it matter in one sense as long as you apply some weighting system? I tend to go for a checks and balance approach with Good on one side and Bad on the other; or adopt a classic SWOT analysis. Sleeping on things also works a treat. We all know that the brain is a fantastic processor of information and it’s amazing what a night’s sleep does to the decision-making process.

OK so you have decided to proceed down the ‘X’ fork in the road. Great. Now commit to it, commit to it and commit to it again. If you are in you are in. Don’t waste time musing about your decision. Stick at it, set some realistic short-term goals and apply a focus like you have never focused before. If all of this sounds like too much and over the top then may be the ‘X’ fork is the wrong direction for you.

Never be afraid to question your decision. In other words if you start to lose your enthusiasm for something then go back to the crossroads and remind yourself of the reasons you chose this particular path. I find this a great way to reengage with the whole thing. Keep a crossroads log or diary; you will be amazed how your priorities change over time.

Finally if you get stuck and the way ahead seems blocked or obscure then just pausing and recharging the batteries for a few hours or a couple of days will enable you to regain momentum.

The point of this is just to make you think that coming to a crossroads often means change – and sometime big change – but for goodness sake just make the decision and then stick to it. As Jack Black says in School of Rock: “Just stick it to the man”.