Monday, March 29, 2010

How to Make a U-Turn

A few posts back, I shared a story about a time in my life when I needed to make a u-turn. I realized the direction I was heading in was not really the direction I wanted to be going in. It started out like a good idea, but the further I went down that path and the more I learned, the more I realized that where I was headed was not where I wanted to be.

The question was posed to me, how do you make a U-Turn and when I thought about it, there are several steps to making a big, sometimes, life changing about face.

1. Be Honest with Yourself. This can be hard in and of itself. Where ever you are headed, you probably put some thought and time into what you are doing and where you are going. You started with good intentions. You might still even enjoy it or see some value in it, but ultimately, you know you need to make a change.

When in doubt, go with your gut. At the same time, don’t be rash about it. This is the time, while you are contemplating the turn, to figure out why you feel the need to change direction. This leads to step number two.

2. Ask Yourself Some Tough Questions.
What is wrong?
Is it something that can be changed?
Are you really that you are headed in the wrong direction or are you just frustrated with the pace of your progress?
Could it be that you have run into a large obstacle on your current path?
If frustration or obstacles are your problem, then are you really in need of a u-turn?
If the frustration or obstacles were removed, would you be satisfied with the path you are on?

3. Map Your New Course. When you are driving and you realize that you are going in the wrong direction, you may or may not think about the next steps in your drive. You instinctively know you are going the wrong way and you turn. You will deal with the rest of your trip as you go, knowing that if you make another wrong turn, you can quickly readjust.

Life isn’t so easy. Making a u-turn in real life could involve a lot of major adjustments: investing in additional education, moving your family to a new city (or back to a familiar one), getting a new job, starting a business, or even getting married or getting divorced. You need to figure out your new direction and plot a course to get there.

4. Be Prepared to Eat Crow. Be clear to discuss your u-turn and your plans with those who will be affected and those who are supporting you with your decisions. However, be very careful about sharing your thoughts, your doubts and your plans with those outside of your inner circle. Heck, be careful about who inside your circle you share your thoughts with if you believe that their input will not be helpful and supportive.

U-turns run counter to what people think. Besides, there are probably a number of people who believe you should stay on your current path. You might be called wishy-washy at best, or uncommitted or outright wrong. You could be called worse. Make sure you put on your thick skin.

Finally realize you don’t have to defend and justify your decisions to everyone. Allow those who disagree to disagree. Stick to your guns.

U-Turns can be ugly but they can also be very necessary!

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