The Point of Change

We’ve all experienced it – a moment in time, a certain action, reaction, consequence, or outcome that brings us sudden clarityThe point of change. For whatever reason, your perspective is forever changed and you cannot “un-know” something that you now see so clearly.

I remember a very specific tipping point for me in each of the jobs I’ve left. Some were poignant, and others were subtle. The most memorable being when I quit my resident director job in college during the biggest holiday weekend, without notice and without a place to live. I was taking a stand – reacting to a decision I didn’t approve of. (I was young).

In another role, I was on the floor cutting out circles to create a representation of what world clocks would look like in the hallway (as a manager in HR/Employee Communications), when the CEO walked past my office asking what the heck I was doing. That was my turning point for that position – I remember thinking, “What the heck am I doing? How is this leveraging my talents, my skills, my brain?”

From that moment on, I couldn’t reengage. I was miserable. I hated my boss, the employees were getting on my nerves, I refused to work outside of normal office hours, and the search for a new position was on.

The point of change comes well before we are able to influence the outcome.

When you find clarity about your job, your boss, your career, or your life direction – it’s hard to just sit back and do nothing. It’s like a shining light finally comes through the clouds and all you can see from that point forward, is your new perspective.

So misery typically ensues. But you can influence that. You can work through it and move on – without internal combustion (or a dramatic exit).

Your perspective shifted, why? Things were probably fine or at least concealed, yesterday. What happened to shift your perspective? What changed in your environment, your daily interactions, your expectations and responsibilities, that allowed you to see your situation in a new light?

Most of us wouldn’t even notice the little thing that changed, allowing us a new perspective. But something had to have changed – and it’s more than your boss had a bad day. What changed in you to help you come to this revelation?

Are your priorities and values still the same, and if so, are you honoring them? Get back to the basics – revisit your personal balance scale and see if anything has changed, and if you are still balanced. These tend to change over time, especially when life throws us big curveballs or events, so check-in  with yourself a few times a year.

Is it worth it in the long run? This is when the emotion needs to be stripped away from the discussion. From my examples above, the answers would have been different – the position in college, it wasn’t worth my frustration to stay. The position with the clocks – was worth struggling and then overcoming the situation. Unfortunately I realized that well after the fact, and that decision did come back to haunt me at one point.

Be critical here – can you stick it out, versus would you prefer not to? Pro/Con list it if the answer isn’t clear.

Regardless, you have to maintain your work persona. No matter what your reflection, decision, or change point is – you have to remain who you are at work. Stay engaged as best as you can. I know it’s hard and you won’t be at 100%, but try and get to 75% – don’t back down to 0% like I did. Stay connected with your purpose and why you accepted the position in the first place.

Your point of change will help you understand who you are – and provide you with new opportunities and challenges. It’s not always a negative thing, nor is it always positive – but it will always move you forward.