Stuck at a crossroads in life? Which way forward is best?

29 May 2020

Written by Jennie Bayliss

Are you at a crossroads in life? Do you want—or need—to travel in a different direction? But wanting to do this, and actually doing it, is not the same thing. Often people really want to make changes to their life, but overwhelm keeps them stuck. Sometimes the vast array of choices is too much; sometimes it feels like there isn’t a right choice. Being torn over which way to go often leads to treading water for fear of making the wrong decision. Yet faced with a decision, but not making one for a prolonged time is rarely wise. So, how do you make the best decision in moving forward? Surprising, it’s best to begin with what you don’t want.

What don’t you want to happen?

Even if you’re not sure what you want to do next, I am willing to bet you are clear and what you DON’T want. No matter if your crossroads is about love, family, home, work or money—or a mix of all of these—list your top three things that you categorically do NOT want to experience. Write these down. I know you might be tempted to skip writing them down—but please do it. Open a file, and list them, or simply take a scrap of paper and scribble them down. Doing this is like removing a block from a dam in the psyche. With the block removed, it allows thoughts and ideas begin to flow once more.

Now flip your ideas

Perhaps you wrote something along the lines of not wanting to do your current job any more, or no longer wanting cramped space at home, or that you don’t want to be lonely. No matter what you wrote down, flip them to the opposite—even if you think this is impossible or can’t see how to make it happen. Again, writing it down frees your mind, spirit and soul from a stuck place. After you have written down these three new things, what is beginning to rise to the top? Surprisingly, it often not what you thought it would be. Like realising the reason you’ve not applied for a more exciting and better-paid job is because it means moving away from family and friends. Or wanting to have a home with more space, means a bigger mortgage and your job doesn’t feel secure. Or to no longer feel lonely means dating again, which fills you with dread.

Is being stuck down to money?

Except for relationship changes, most other life improvements involve money. Your income, to a large degree, determines where you live, what you can do for pleasure and to how much you can invest in yourself. But money alone will never make you happy. So, while money is a consideration in many life decisions, it’s not the most important aspect of your choice. That said, it helps to know where your money risk vs safe level lies. With a big cushion of cash, it’s easier to make a decision where the outcome is not guaranteed. With no rainy-day money in the bank, it’s harder to take even a small risk. So, choose to know what amount for your financial safety net.

When I ask my clients, ‘How much money do you need in a bank account, to feel safe?’, the answer varies from as little as £2,000 to the sizable amount £100,000. Typically, though it is between £10,000—50,000. There is no right or wrong amount. It depends on your world view, past life experiences, and your personality type (do this quick personality test to help you). Nor is there an exact formula to calculate the amount of money you need. However, one way is to base this amount on is to consider how much money your would need for 6-months without any income. Alternatively, consider how much you would need if in one month your boiler blew-up, your car broke down, and you had to pay for a big family event. Mostly, people choose their amount based on a gut feeling, which is also OK.

Not asking yourself this safe-with-money question can block decision making, so choose or calculate your amount. Now check—is there is a gap between what you think you need and what you already have? In this regard, how healthy is your bank account? If you don’t have enough money to feel safe, choose to prioritise this. How long would it take to build up your financial reserves if you became ultra-careful with your spending? Does knowing this time frame help you make your decision? Or is there more to it?

Is it fear holding you back?

We are creatures of habit. Although we may act as if we’re comfortable with change, but in reality, most of us are a little scared of making big life changes. This is true even if the changes are desirable or things we need to do. We say to ourselves that what we have isn’t that bad—that’s it OK to hang on. Yet deep down we know we’re just pretending to ourselves.
John Lennon wrote that ultimately everything boils down to fear or love. He said:

When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.

What would it take for you to love and trust yourself to take the first steps forward?

At a crossroads, do you follow your heart—or use your head?

We’re frequently told following our heart is foolish. Yet, your head can’t work out what makes you happy—only your heart knows what makes you smile and toes tap to the music of your life. And happiness is not always logical, so all the analysis in the world may not give you the right answer. So, when deciding on a significant life change, choose first with your heart because that leads to happiness. Then work out the logistics with your head to find a way of making it happen. This way is far more likely to result in happy endings.

Tom’s Crossroads story

Many years ago, an accountancy company asked me if I could become Tom’s life coach. Tom had become Chartered Accountant several years before most of his peers. His accountancy abilities were excellent, but he was inexperienced in people management, so I was to help him with this. Initially Tom was sceptical about life coaching, but he soon became a fan. Over the next few months, his confidence soared as he dealt with jealousy from his peers and he learnt how to get clients to feel comfortable with his role too. The latter was somewhat challenging as Tom at 24, still looked like a young university student.
After around 6-months of coaching, Tom told me was considering two new job opportunities. One involved relocating to Barbados, to work as an accountant for a luxury cruise liner company. The other was with a large accountancy company in Oxford.

He told me that moving to Barbados would be exciting—year-round sunshine, beach life and kayaking every day. And, because some of the audits would be done on the liners, he would get to visit other Caribbean islands. The idea of a few years of working in the sun and earning good money was very appealing.

The Oxford job would involve joining one of the top five accountancy companies in the UK. He could still live at home with his parents and still save money to buy a place of his own—something he wanted very much. This job, he told me, would look good on his CV, and he would have many more opportunities for progression.

As Tom’s Life Coach, this was a tricky boundary to navigate. Tom was my client and what he told me was confidential. Yet Tom’s boss was paying for his coaching with the hope that Tom would develop his interpersonal skills and stay with the company. So, I shared my dilemma with Tom, then I simply said, ‘Follow your heart, then work it out with your head’. I added that he also needed to speak with his boss if he was planning to leave.

Shortly afterwards, Tom called me to tell me he had accepted a position with the larger accountancy company and that his current boss had wished him well.

Did Tom make the right decision? Tom was excited by the idea of travel and living abroad, but he perhaps wanted to reach a high position at a very young age. I didn’t get the chance to explore this with him, so I don’t know. But my belief is that if it was Tom’s destiny to go to Barbados, then the Universe/fate/God would create another opportnity to make this happen for him. And if Tom later regretted his decision, he could actively chose to persue it. In terms of jobs or relocating, it’s rarely impossible to reverse an initial decision.

Back to the three things

Look back at your three things you noted earlier—things that you don’t want and also their exact opposites. Now you are clearer, do you know what’s most important to move forward? Would one of your flipped ideas work? Are you ready to commit to taking one step forward? Now take a moment to visualise how are you going to feel when you know you have broken this deadlock and begun moving forward.

Well done for imagining your future. Let this warm glow of the idea of moving forward propel you into taking your action moving on from your crossroads.

How working with me as your life coach can help you move forward

Of course, I am biased! But I believe life coaching is one of the best investments you can make in changing your life for the better. I don’t say this just for my clients. I am coached every month – and I have done this for the last 20 years. Being coached helps me to be calm, focus and achieve a life that shines! While I can see the bigger picture for my clients, recognise where and why they are stuck, and what needs to happen to motivate and get them going, I’m no different from you. I may easily miss my opportunities or not see my wood for the trees. So my coach helps me see what I’m missing.

Life coaching isn’t rocket science. BUT working life coaching enables you to fast track your life changes while being supported every step of the way. And this is particularly so when you’re at a crossroads. Want to try life coaching for free? Call me on 01305 821799 to schedule a 30-minute Taster Session. No selling. Just a slightly shorter version of a real session so you can assess if I’m the right life coach for you. I hope to hear from you soon!

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