Rock the Boat, or Strive for Balance?
A friend had an interview with an awesome automotive startup. He also has a young kid. His current role is supremely stable. This opportunity will require him to travel 80% of his time. Established brand versus start-up; 9–6 versus 24/7; Family versus work.
What should he do?
To expand a bit more, his current role offers great stability: significant brand, well paid, 9–6, minimal travel, autonomy, remote boss. It is so stable that rationally it does not seem like the right place to be. Buzzwords really start to apply: “Comfort zone”, “not failing enough”, “Anti-anti-fragile = fragile”.
The other role? Almost the complete opposite: “Differential Experience”, “truly build something really hard”, “rocket ship”, “now or never” …
So now it is a war of life wisdoms:
“ What will be most important to you when you die?”
“ All the Buzzfeed articles about regrets on the deathbeds talk about not spending enough time with loved ones.”
“ If you aren’t putting yourself in a position where you are challenged and stressed enough, you are making yourself vulnerable to the shock that will tear everything apart.”
“ Then when you are fxxked, you will drag your family with you.”
“ This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
“ You are at the age where you still are be able to do this. Otherwise, you are gojng to look back and say, ‘I wish at least I tried.’ ”
Then often times, in a conversation like this, we will inevitably hear the ultimate trump cards:
“ Follow your heart!”
“ Go after your passion!”
“ Either way, I am sure your family will support you.”
Then, folks at dying age will tell you, you are fxxked, either way. Regret is a dick.
You also could learn from some of those successful-yet-not-so-old current star executives and CEOs. Many of them would suggest things like, “Master the art of being present” … “Edit your life ruthlessly” … maybe these might help us regret less.
I think more often than not though, the inevitable result of regrets from situations like this is, is because we are ok with the justifications we have for not doing things we are supposed to do. We often choose (or allow ourselves) to be in a comfort zone/being lazy, and we justify it with other reasons, such as devoting time with our family, or the company does not give me the opportunities to shine. Or we choose to focus on our careers/ignore the fact that we suck at home, and justify it with personal growth/our own false exaggerated sense responsibility to the larger world (I am building something that changes the world).
I find the far more challenging thing to overcome, is to be able to be as objective (and honest …) as we could to thoroughly assess our current situation and choices, then deal with it head on.
If my job feels comfortable, what are the things that I am not doing enough to make it uncomfortable? Pick up more projects? Aim at even harder goals? Talk to those people that we have avoided/do not need to connect with? There will be something that you are in absolute control of to make you uncomfortable. Why am I not doing these?
Or on the family front, find those moments you knew you chose to be lazy and let the balance shifted. Find those moments where you justified not watching your kid struggling with writing the letter “E” and “S” with having had a long day and or you deserve some time with the Switch. We all make these decisions.
The key here I think, is if you don’t try to be honest and thorough with how you understand the dynamics between your actions and your current situation, no matter what you choose next, that choice will likely invite regrets. That’s because we aren’t fully informed, and we know we didn’t try to be thorough. The regrets will stem from our subconscious guilt of not being thoroughly honest with ourselves.
I think this is a hard enough thing to tackle. It requires such humiliating honesty about our own weaknesses and choices it’s uncomfortable just thinking about it …
Yet I think when we are NOT presented with these options, it’s the best time to dwell on our current choices and situations, and understand them. In a way, if we don’t, really we are just kidding ourselves that we will make the choices that we genuinely feel great about.