Note to readers: Healing Space is a weekly series that helps you dive into your mental health and take charge of your wellbeing through practical DIY self-care methods.
They’re calling it The Great Resignation. Four million workers quit in April alone, the US reports. More are taking days of paid leave over the summer and considering not returning. It is also the best time to look for a new job. A number of reasons influence this, many have worked from home and realised they are better off with a less stressful and toxic work environments and happier with more attention to family. Okay, but how do you know it’s the right decision for you?
The first step is to ask yourself what your goals are. Psychological research points out that people who write down their goals are 50% more likely to attain them than those who don’t. So get into considered evaluation. When your goals are challenging, you get feedback, they fulfil your learning and collective aims, they are more fulfilling too.
There are several mind mapping tools that can aid your decision.
The first is Edwin Locke’s Goal Setting Theory of Motivation. You’ve heard this one before. You can use SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Acceptable, Realistic and have a Time framework. A second is a decision matrix. If you like working out the complexities of interplay, you can try the Vroom-Yetton model, which asks you to consider the quality of the decision and the support of other members of your organisation or team (you can also apply ‘team’ to ‘family’ while using this). You can use a mind-mapping tool to lay out your options. The TDODAR helps when you are under pressure; Time, Diagnosis, Options, Decision, Action and Review.
While these evidence-based systems are useful to set goals and evaluate options, we can end up using them robotically. They often fail to include a key component: emotion. For example, you know if you stop eating certain foods you will lose weight, you do the grocery shopping, and you have a food plan. Why do you still order burgers and coke at midnight? It’s not that you don’t know what to do. It’s that your emotions overpower what you know. And that’s the dilemma. We often don’t feel like picking the best option; which is when we quit our jobs without another in hand and worry about the consequences later!
Dialectic Behavioural Therapy, developed in 1974, helps people manage the intensity of their emotions and balance it out against the rational factors. Neither being overly emotional or hyper rational helps us. We do have to factor our feelings and what is pragmatic in our decisions. The Wise Mind, where the rational mind and the emotional mind intersect, is the sweet spot.
How do we operate from the Wise Mind? Here’s how to translate it into your decision making process:
First, write down the most emotional statements running through your mind. Don’t worry if they seem dramatic or are worst case scenarios. “I will be left without a job”, “I’ll be in debt and lose my independence”, “I won’t be able to pay my EMIs”, etc. Keep going until you get them all out. On another piece of paper, write down your most practical thoughts. Be clinical about it. “You don’t have to like your job, just the pay cheque”, “it’ll take me a year to pay off my debt”, “it will take me six months to set up my own consultancy”, etc.
Then, consider both sets. See which ones seem irrational, impractical or without any basis. Cut them out. Of what remains, see which sentences you can compound. You’ll find that one softens the other. You might come up with: “I won’t be able to pay my EMIs for six months, but I will set up my own consultancy in that time” and "I’ll be in debt and lose my independence but I’ll pay it off in one year”.
Now you can weigh outcomes more realistically. You don’t have to function in extremes. Neither is the best case scenario nor the worst case scenario a fact, but most probably somewhere in between. You may still choose not to quit your job, but even when you do take that decision, you will have reconciled your rational and emotional mind first. The decision will work better for you.