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Sticking to It vs. Sinking into It

Drama #1: Sticking

Scene I: X calls a coach. "I need to get moving. I'm not comfortable here."
Scene II: Two weeks later. X emails coach: "Could we postpone the call? I'm a little tired today. And I'm SO busy"
Scene III: Three months later. X emails coach: "What's going on? I'm not getting anywhere and time is running out!"

During any transition -- moving, job change, returning to school -- most people feel fatigued. Some feel exhausted.

Transitions usually involve physical work: packing, driving, running errands. And there's emotional upheaval: saying good-by, facing fears, wrapping up paperwork.

You can increase energy by the usual eat right - sleep right - exercise routines. You can meditate and try relaxation exercises.

If you became successful by focusing on one project or goal at a time, you need to learn a new skill for transitioning:operating on several tracks at once. Work through fear and fatigue. Keep the momentum going.

Keep appointments with your coach, moving company, financial planner, networking groups and (especially) friends and family.

Energy comes from action.

Drama #2: Sinking

Scene I: X begins major project.
Scene II: X realizes project is going nowhere, hates project, would rather watch paint dry than continue project.
Scene III: To get motivated, X hires coach and assistant; buys new "music to work by;" lectures self to "Get moving!"

Sometimes you realize you need to finish a project you hate. In Finding Your Own North Star, Martha Beck writes about forcing herself to finish her doctoral thesis, using the fifteen-minute-a-day method.

But often we find ourselves stuck with projects we've outgrown. Research psychologists report that people have trouble giving up, especially after a large investment.

Businesses pour money into projects after the market for those products had dried up, or a competitor had come out with a faster, better,cheaper model.

Economists talk about "sunk costs:" what you've already invested in a project, a house, a car. And, they tell us, sunk costs are irrelevant.

The question to ask is, "What makes sense for me to do today and tomorrow?" You've invested five years in a career that no longer makes sense. Do you want to invest another five -- or spend the next five years building an exciting future?

Actually, these dramas are related.

People often stick to sinking projects because moving forward takes more energy in the early stages. Once you get forward momentum, you'll find energy to break free.

Okay, I can't resist: Dog-owners, think of what happens when you're settled comfortably for the evening (especially if it's a cold, dark rainy night). Now you have to get up and walk the dog (who probably wasn't interested when you offered earlier). Dragging yourself out of that chair -- aargh! But once you're out there, you get a second wind.

At least I do. ;-)

Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D. is an author, career coach, and speaker. She works with mid-career professionals who want to make a fast move to career freedom. Visit her site http://www.movinglady.com or call 505-534-4294.


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Career and life transition