Tied up in
Find the Right String and Pull!
We've all had the experience
of pulling the right string and watching a knotty tangle unravel
all at once.
When you're standing at a fork
in the road -- or wondering where to turn off a traffic circle
-- asking the right question can be equivalent to puling the
Let's say you're trying decide
whether to move from Boise to Boston, or vice versa. In my book,
Making the Big Move, I suggest the key question is, "Can
I still be me?" Will you still retain your identity after
moving thousands of miles -- and the question becomes tougher
if you also move to a new country.
When your decision involves money
and careers, the key question often is, "How will this move
affect my power?"
"Norelle" enjoyed a
well-paying job with a profitable corporation. In a tight job
market, she enjoyed generous raises and promotions. Norelle called
me when she was tempted to apply for a lower-paying job in the
non-profit sector, a job that she felt was much closer to her
Norelle first framed her decision
as, "Can I live on less money?" but she quickly realized
the real question was, "How would this move affect my market
power?" A few queries to her network support her suspicion:
she would have a tough time returning to the private sector if
the new job didn't work out. And she would not be developing
new skills or qualities to become more marketable.
"Ivan," newly promoted
and relocated, considered spending his new wealth on a large
house. Buying a house, however, would send a signal of "I'm
staying here!" However, as in many communities, few quality
rentals were available. Ivan decided to buy a small house --
and "resale potential" became his first priority.
Once you have asked the key question,
the answer magically appears. To use another metaphor, it's like
picking the right key from a huge ring. The door opens right
away. Psychologists call this process "framing" the
question. Just as you rule out options by trying different keys,
often you gain insights into your decision by exploring different
When faced with a tough decision,
try two or three different keys. If your fork in the road turns
into a circle, walk away for awhile. Stimulate your creative
processes. Talk to someone who can offer objectivity.
We all know that feeling of relief
when a locked door to a room or house finally opens. We're in!
We're free! That's also the "great decision" feeling.
Stuck? Keep trying -- and consider that maybe you've just grabbed
the wrong key ring.
Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D.
Author, Career Consultant, Speaker
*Fast Track to Career Freedom*