When people come to me for a reading, the two most popular questions I get are related to career and relationships.
People want to know how to transition to a career they will love, and whether or not to stay with their current partner or break up.
People like stability and fear change. We wonder if we should make a transition or if perhaps that will just make things worse.
“What if I leave my partner but can never find a better one?”
“What if I leave accounting and try to become a professional dancer but I fail?”
But there is one question you should ask yourself when you’re wondering if you should take a new path in life.
Here it is: “Knowing what I know now, would I make the same choice today that I made initially?”
“Knowing what I know now, would I marry him again?”
“Knowing what I know now, would I still be an accountant today?”
“Knowing what I know now, would I still choose to be a therapist?”
“Knowing what I know now, would I stay with my current girlfriend?”
You have to be brutally honest with yourself. It’s the only way to get value out of the question.
If the answer is “Yes” to the question, then you’re on the right path already. If things are not quite perfect but you would still choose the same path, then find a way to get your unmet needs met some other way, by adding something to your life, not subtracting.
But if you answer “No” to the question, then you must understand that you are walking the wrong path for yourself. You are walking a path that cannot lead to happiness.
You are allowed to be happy. You are allowed to be in a state of joy as you walk this Earth. If you wouldn’t do it again, why do it now?
“But, Erin, I’ve climbed so far up the corporate ladder, if I leave the job now I’ll have to take a huge pay cut and start all over.” Perhaps you will. But if you start all over on a path that brings you joy, it will ultimately be better than climbing a ladder up against the wrong tree. What does it serve you to get to the top of a mountain only to realize you didn’t enjoy the process and you hate the view?
“But, Erin, I’ve been with my husband for 33 years. What’s the point in starting over NOW?” The point is that you deserve to be happy. The point is that the longer you stay involved in something that does NOT make you happy, the longer you are pushing joy to the back burner.
It’s not easy. Definitely not easy.
The better approach to life is to pick up the thread of joy and follow it all of your days. But sometimes we lock onto something we think will make us happy for our entire lives, only to find that years later we have grown tired of it, all the joy is gone. This happens for several reasons.
First, you make some kind of contract. “Well if I’m happy today I’m sure I’ll still be happy with this job or this partner 20 years from now.” Don’t make a contract when you can’t know what the future will bring.
Second, we become afraid to make changes because it might hurt someone else. But this only locks both of you onto a path of misery.
Third, you’re simply afraid of the unknown. “Well I hate my job with a passion but I’m sure I would hate being homeless even more.” Or “She’s not the best partner for me, but it’s better than being alone.”
You are robbing yourself of your right to be happy.
You don’t have to drop what you’re doing immediately. You can make a plan to make a transition.
If it’s your career, decide what path would bring you joy and get some training and start on that path as best you can. Then drop the old career when it’s feasible.
If it’s a relationship you want to end, prepare yourself emotionally and mentally. Gather support ahead of time from friends and family so your transition back to single life isn’t as daunting.
Think of the alternative… living to the end of your days holding on to something you don’t even want.
If you’re holding on to something that does not bring you joy and happiness, let it go. It will free you up to find joy and happiness on a new path.
Is it scary? It can be, yes.
Is it worth it? Every time.
Ask yourself the question. Prepare yourself for the answer. Take action on what you discover. You are allowed to be happy.