Lots of emails, comments and questions on last week’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go? Making Life’s Toughest Decisions.” Here’s some more color on the subject. Be sure to let us know if it helps to clarify or further confuse you:
While the notion of “separating” emotion and logic to ensure both are heard may sound, well, logical, it’s not always practical. The problem is we’re talking about emotionally charged situations which by definition means your “feeling” brain is in charge and overruling it with sound reason will be challenging to say the least.
For example, when deciding what to have for lunch today I feel like a sandwich but I know I should probably have a salad. In that situation it’s easy to separate reason from emotion and know which is which. But when you’re deep in the throes of a potentially life-changing decision about a relationship or career, that’s a whole different story.
Emotional situations take a somewhat extreme act of will to separate thoughts from feelings. On the logical side, you can ask disinterested third-parties you trust who are experienced in such matters and/or make a list of pros and cons. On the emotional side (gut feel, intuition, same thing), mindfulness meditation or something similar works best.
Related: Why ‘Trust Your Gut’ Is Lousy Advice
That’s what I do. It doesn’t mean you’ll always make the right call – everyone has a “stay” or “go” bias to some extent – but you’ll have a better chance of making the right call given your own emotional bias and the available information at the time.
Keep in mind, career decisions for me have always been a matter of personal happiness, professional fulfillment plus financial gain, with a heavy emphasis on the latter.
When it comes to work-related decisions, my emotional bias is to go, since I have always had a very high risk tolerance and little in the way of fear of the unknown, failure, and all that. So when I’m good and fed up that things aren’t working out – for me or the company – I’m usually heading for the exit sign pronto.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t just bail at the first sign of trouble. Two conditions must be satisfied: I’m miserable and I think the company is toast. That’s why I always tell people not to jump ship before it hits the iceberg.
So if I’m just sort of miserable but the company’s got a decent shot at making it, I’ll hang in there. But once I think the company is SOL, aka iceberg time, I’m gone in a heartbeat.
Related: The ‘If I Had 24 Hours Left’ Test
How has that strategy worked out? Pretty well. I’ve always managed to quit or get myself fired when both conditions were met. And the companies usually flopped. One time I probably should have stuck around but it would have taken years to reap the rewards and I would have missed out on a different sweet gig so it’s sort of hard to say.
Disclaimer: Your mileage may vary, objects in mirror are closer than they appear, yada yada.
It’s worth mentioning that, when it comes to personal relationships, my emotional bias is exactly the opposite: I tend to take the long view. I found a good woman and locked in, thus the 29-year marriage (on Wednesday, actually). Go figure.
Hope that helps. Any questions? Any answers? Any rags, any bones, any bottles today, any . . . ? (apologies to Groucho Marx)
Image credit: Thelma & Louise, MGM