6 years ago, someone suggested I respond to a question on Quora – What should I do if I’m really struggling at work and feel incredibly down because of it? I changed jobs about a year ago and really haven’t been doing well in my new job. I just do not know what to do and feel hopeless.
And so I did – with a mini-essay of an answer. I also left my email address for any follow up questions folks may have.
What is fascinating is about this thread is that I still get the occasional email from someone who read this thread. After all these years! The internet is a fascinating place.
Some of the stories folks have shared over the years are very painful – they tell the story of challenging financial constraints, misfortune, abuse, and the like. The conversations that feel most productive go down a familiar path –
(1) The writer lays out the options – I respond with any options they might have missed.
(2) We discuss the trade-offs inherent in these options.
(3) Following this, I ask them what they’d do, ask them to believe in their judgment, and wish them all the best on their journey.
There tends to be an “aha” moment in most conversations when the person writing in realizes I don’t have a magical answer I can share that will solve their problems.
That sounds obvious – but, when we’re desperate, a lot of seemingly obvious truths aren’t so. I’ve been in that situation and can relate.
The best thing that can happen from these situation is internalizing a truth about the hardest situations in this life – there is no easy solution. There are only trade-offs. And, while others can help us surface options we’ve missed or provide more perspective on the trade-offs, no one can help us make the right call.
Only we have that data. And, the best thing we can do is believe in ourselves to make that call.
I do my best to communicate to folks in these exchanges that I believe in their ability to make the right call.
I hope they do too.