I like this article about career decisions. It's not always as simple as wanting more money or needing to help people and then finding the job that matches. Sometimes there are real emotional and mental issues that complicate decisions.
Even if I know plenty of other people who have made similar arrangements work for their families, I worry that my kids are going to be the ones starting up a meth lab when I'm gone. Or I might remember a disparaging comment someone made about working moms and think they won't love me anymore if I choose differently than they would. Or I might go after a career path that doesn't suit me simply because of the impressive "ooh" sound people make when they hear what I do for a living. Sometimes I forget that I have to consider what's best for me as well as my family, you know, since I'm part of the family, too. It isn't always about everyone else.
These might sound silly, but once I identify what I'm worried about, it's easier to think clearly about the possible consequences of my decision rather than letting my worries linger in the corners of my mind.
I worry all the time that I'll launch into my next career move and then find that I hate it. Yup, that's good old regret anticipation eating me up inside.
When I quit working to take care of my kids, I thought I would be fulfilled through them because they would listen to my wisdom with rapt attention. It took me a few years to realize my kids were just going to be people and that it wasn't their job to fulfill me. So I lowered my expectations, which is the opposite of what I usually like to do (Reach for the stars! Save the world!).
I don't want the same thing to happen again. If sky-high ideals didn't work for my kids, they probably won't work for my job, either. I worry that I'm setting myself up for disappointment, since it isn't my career's obligation to meet my every need.
Raging against mediocrity.
I don't rage because I'm spoiled and can't figure out how to sacrifice. Believe me, I know a thing or two about delayed gratification. But I expect a lot from myself. And so if I'm doing something ordinary, I feel like I could be doing more or doing better. I don't want to just be solving someone else's first world problems! The truth of it, though, is that even greatness requires taking baby steps, talking to crazy people, and filling out tedious paperwork. It comes back to expectations. Even boring, easy, or kiss-up busywork is part of life. Expect it.
Unhealthy thought patterns. If I can't do this now, I'll never be able to. I don't know why everyone else seems to have their lives together. What is it about me that makes me unsuccessful?
None of these thoughts is very helpful. Changing thought patterns is hard because of how fast thoughts can travel and how elusive that makes them. It might take a serious time investment in myself to make it happen, but if my thoughts are holding me back, it's definitely worthwhile to change them.
Distorted view of the consequences. I've held on to more than one job I hated for longer than I should have. But you know what? The world wouldn't have ended if I quit. And if I (gasp!) make a bad career choice, I'm not stuck there forever. I can leave. I could even turn the job I hate into an opportunity to find a job I like more! Jobs are not forever, not these days. So it's important for me to remind myself that the fate of the free world doesn't rest on my decision. I can change my mind. I can learn something from my mistakes. Decisions don't have to last forever.