Choose Wisely, Please
Choose Wisely, Please
THE SELF-REFLECTION PROCESS
T his is your time, your life. It may sound dramatic, yet I speak with people in their mid to late career who shake their heads when trying to recall how they ended up where they are. Satisfied or not, they wish they had been more deliberative and kind to themselves by pausing to consider what could have been.
This is your time to daydream, disconnect, stand back, and ponder. If you really want to make a difference in your career, you need to take the time to be sure you are headed in the right direction. Is this what matters to you? Does the idea of doing this type of work, of working for this business, excite you? Would you rather be in public service or teaching in a college? Until you take the time to be clear about your next step, you will not bring your best self to any endeavor.
This is a thinking and feeling process. To someone on the outside looking in, your career choice may seem irrational, but you have a passion that is driving you to be exactly where you are. On the other hand, you may need to admit that you are driven by a sense of guilt. You chose being in the family business to please others and avoid conflict. Sometimes family members in their 30s and early 40s are pressed into roles that are far above their experience and knowledge base, setting them up for failure.
Please secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others-this rings true in more than just an emergency plane landing. This is your time to really explore. What do you want to do, what work do you love best, what tasks drag you down? This is not about if your parent, aunt, uncle, grandparent, brother, or sister want you in the business ... and heaven forbid if your spouse is pushing. This is your decision and will impact you easily ten hours a day, five or six days a week. That alone should scream: "Listen to yourself!" Self-reflection can be very liberating and life-changing. Regardless of the result, it is a practice to develop.
Chen Lee's Story
A client, Chen Lee, was eight years into the successful medical practice he shared with his father and uncle when he had a crisis. He developed Addison's Disease and was slowed to almost a standstill. During his physical recovery he decided to take some time to reflect on his life and particularly his career. He noted, "I never really took the time to think about if I wanted to practice medicine as a career. I was the eldest in my family and my father and uncle just assumed I would take over. It wasn't an "if"; it was "when you come into the practice" and "when we are working together." I'm now 33, haven't started a family, and if I'm completely honest, I have always had to drag myself out of bed to get to work. When I think about what I have enjoyed in the past, it was my plan to be a biologist-what I originally went to school for before switching to med school." Fast forward five years and Chen made the decision to leave medicine, finished his degree in marine biology, had a child, and secured a position with Hopkins Marine Station. "I make half of what I used to make, but I wake up excited about being a dad and having a career I love."
The Gift of Self-Reflection
Self-reflection is a gift you often forget to give yourself, and it is one that you can access at any time and in any setting ... well, almost any. Our world of constant and instant communication and connection sometimes proves difficult to carve out a still place for self-care. Continuing on as you are is easier than stopping to examine where you are and if you want to continue down the same path. The outside can definitely distract and then when you do get quiet, it is more tempting to dwell on what other family members could be doing differently and better than what you have the power to change: yourself.
Creating an internal space of quiet is the first step and is a practice, not a one-time event