I’ve had a lot of conversations lately with friends and clients about being at a fork in the road or transition point. Some of them aren’t even at the crossroads now, but looking down the road knowing that one will be coming.
The question has generally been the same: “What path should I take?”
The hardest time to make a decision of “What’s next?” is when you are staring it down. Urgency doesn’t make decisions about transitions any easier — in fact, I’d argue it makes it harder.
So before ever getting to that crossroads, think ahead to when that may be.
I learned this lesson as a freshman at Ohio State, when I entered Undecided. The idea of an Undecided major is that you will be guided to take the courses you know you’ll need to take anyway (so you don’t lose any time), while giving you time to explore your interests.
But that’s the key. You need to explore your interests. No one can do this for you.
The problem for many of us is that we focus too narrowly on whatever it is that we’re doing right now and get total tunnel vision of the other paths around us all the time.
When you stay open to the opportunities and parallel paths around you, you can actively explore (intellectually) what other future paths for yourself may look like.
Now, I’m not advocating for taking a ton of time out of your day or week to do research — I think most of this exploration can be done totally passively just by being interested in people and ideas around you all the time. Maybe your uncle runs his own business, and you can talk to him about it at Thanksgiving.
Maybe your old college roommate has been running an Etsy shop and you’ve seen some of her posts on Instagram.
Just tune into the different paths other people you’re naturally drawn to have taken. Catch up with them — ask what their days look like.
Hold just a little bit of space to think about yourself in different positions. What would your life look like if you picked up that hobby, started writing, painting, or building?
You don’t need to be actively planning your transition, or feel like you’re being unfaithful to your current reality, just be open. Try things out in small ways.
You’ll be glad you did when your transition sounds more like, “Gosh, I’ve been thinking about doing this for a long time!” instead of “Well, now what?”