Back to Square One, NOT!

One of the most difficult aspects of making a career, work, or job transition is the temptation to head back to Square One.

What do I mean by Square One?

Well, not necessarily back to the beginning – whatever that is – but back to the known, the familiar, the place you used to be accepted and known. Back to your so-called Comfort Zone.

Here’s an example from my own work and life to illustrate the point.

I’ve been in a rather huge transition for the last 4 months stemming from the separation from my wife. This is no small change. It has been a time of intense, deep, deeply troubling, emotional upheaval. I have been buffeted and battered by an incredible array of emotions; many painful and a few not.

One of the biggest challenges of this transition is a deep, troubling loss of confidence in myself and my abilities. The raw emotions that I feel leave me feeling so vulnerable, so exposed, that I find it difficult, if not impossible, to promote and market myself.

If you’ve recently been fired, I’m betting you feel much the same: tender, raw, exposed, and afraid. And, perhaps like me you yearn to go back to what was.

I’m not talking here about those of you (and you know who you are) who are trapped in jobs/work/careers that are killing you not so softly; who yearn to leave but are trapped.

I’m talking about those of you, who like me, have actually quit a job or contract. But, who now, feeling the pain of transition, want to flee back to those former jobs, those seeming sanctuaries.

When we feel vulnerable and emotionally needy it’s natural to seek the comfort of the familiar. When it feels as if you are raw and bleeding from every pore the last thing you want to do is expose yourself to possible abuse and rejection.

So, the temptation is to go back to that place where everybody knows your name. To the seeming comfort of people who know you and your skills. To a place where you don’t have to prove yourself.

The problem is you can’t. And, maybe you shouldn’t try.

Take my case for example (please). I had a great contract position for 4 years and make great money. I left because the environment was becoming toxic – and the work boring. Yet, just this morning a thought entered my mind, “maybe I should go back.” Immediately, another part of me said, “Are you nuts?”

Why would part of me think about going back to a toxic situation?

Why? The siren song of the familiar. The misplaced – perhaps insane – belief that somehow it would be easier, less painful. There is some seeming comfort in the notion that these people know me, that not having to prove myself to them somehow outweighs the eventual pain and destruction that would surely follow from exposure to their toxic behavior.

And, yet each time I hear that siren call of what was, I need to give myself a metaphorical slap upside the head, and let go of that crazy notion that I can return to Square One.

I could … but only at great risk.

What about you?

© 2010 Lyle T. Lachmuth, All Rights Reserved