Often it takes a ton of effort and time to figure out what you want to do. Once you make that decision, keeping it going in the right direction is vital. There are often roadblocks, unforeseen challenges, etc. so forward movement seems like the best and really only option.
Yet, what if taking a step back to stop, reassess, shift or even take a different turn, could yield a better outcome?
When I first began working as an application developer for Fidelity Investments, one of the training programs I took asked us to set goals. I vividly recall writing that my “big end goal” was to be the President of Systems Development Company (an internal company within Fidelity). I really didn’t have any idea what that role entailed or why I would want that position. All I knew is that I saw this as a position I could learn how to do, so why not set my sights there!
From that point, I focused on moving up the corporate ladder within the organization. I got promoted, I made more money, I had more responsibility, etc.
As I became more familiar with the inner workings of the organization, I took a big step back. Here are some of the things I realized by doing this:
- I didn’t want to give every waking moment of my life to this company, which would have been necessary to achieve my stated “big end goal”
- My personal driver wasn’t money or a title, it was learning
- Many of my strengths (e.g., collaboration, compromise, not blaming, figuring out how to not repeat mistakes) were not valued by this organization.
I’d like to say that it was that moment that I decided to leave this organization. But I didn’t. Instead, I decided to stay, learn as much as I could, while I figured out “what I really wanted to be when I grew up”.
I am grateful that I took that step back. It allowed me to reassess what was most important to me and what I was willing/not willing to sacrifice in order to get what I said I wanted.
As it turns out, what I thought I wanted and what I REALLY wanted were not the same.
Taking a step back periodically can be a great way to make sure you’re not zooming down the “wrong road” for you. Sometimes, what you discover may require you to back-up and take a completely different road. Other times, it may only mean you have to make a small shift, invite different people to work with you, or slow things down for a while. And, still other times, taking that step back confirms you are headed in the perfect direction and it is full speed ahead!
The most important thing about taking a step back is to be completely honest with yourself. Looking at the direction you’re headed with objective eyes and honoring the analysis if a change truly is needed, neither of which is easy…and this will actually be the best way to yield the most beneficial outcome for you.