Do I Stay Or Do I Go?
Case Study: To Go Or Not To Go?
I recently coached someone deciding between two very good – but still stressful – choices. “Beth” had applied for an overseas teaching program last year, at a point where she had been miserable in a job that she hated and was ready to do anything to make a change. Fast-forward to this year, where she’s working a job that she loves that challenges her every day, and where she has a mentor invested in developing her career. Of course, this is when she’s notified that she’s been accepted to the overseas program, where she’ll spend a year working as a university assistant in her field and living in a city on the beach. What to do?
As someone who spends a good deal of time encouraging people to move abroad (“Do it while you’re young!” “There will never be a better time!” “You can save tons of money by living in Asia!”), I thought this would be cut-and-dried. But the more I heard about Beth’s current job and its prospects, the more difficult this decision seemed. And, it turned out, she hadn’t been given much information about the job overseas – although she’d inquired about taking on more responsibility (and she’s someone with years of great experience under her belt), it wasn’t a guarantee. The program was also geared mostly to new graduates.
The longer we talked, the more positive things she told me about her current job – in fact, her exact words were “it’s the holy grail. I’m excited to get up and go to work every day” – and the more it seemed that staying where she was was the right decision. I recommended that she remain in her current position, with certain caveats: that she focus her energies on advancing her career, that she leverage her connection with her mentor into opening up new doors, and that she get back into online dating – she had told me that she was interested in a serious relationship and might want to have kids one day.
The main difficulty was, it emerged, that she no longer really wanted the overseas position, but as a lifetime go-getter, it felt wrong to say no to something that signaled “Adventure! Trying new things! The great unknown!” Working on resetting her mindset was the key – viewing her current job, which was full of challenges, as the adventurous choice, and the beach town job with less responsibility as the easy way out. She’s still working on that, but she’s happy that she’s made the decision to stick with what, right now, is the right choice for her.