Should I stay or should I go? That’s a question many of us ask at some point in our lives. It may be a decision about a job, career, relationship, friendship, neighborhood, church or even a family event. Is it better to hang in there or get the heck outta Dodge while you can?
Pronghorns near Colorado Springs Face a Similar Situation
They are being slowly squeezed out by development that’s encroaching on their grazing lands. They’re surrounded on all sides with new houses and creeping commercial buildings. Should they stay and get used to being local lawn ornaments or make a run for it while the gettin’s good? This is non-negotiable change. Development will advance, forcing out the last remaining animals one way or the other.
My husband (who is very smart) says I’m good at making analogies, so let’s see if you can relate to these questions for yourself or someone else:
- Should the landowner make it easier for the pronghorns by removing barbed wire fencing sections to run through? Is that the compassionate thing to do or is it helping too much?
- Do these critters hesitate to leave because development hasn’t come very close — the threat isn’t real enough just yet?
- Once they cross the fence, where do they go from there?
- Should someone take the bull by the horns and relocate them? Should well meaning people tranquilize them or herd them into the back of a truck for their own good?
- Would they rebel, struggle and make so much of a fuss it wouldn’t be worth trying to help?
- Or should we let them find their own way, no matter what the consequences?
What about you?
Are you feeling pressured to make a move? Should you stick it out or make a dash for it? Consider these 8 steps as you ponder your future:
1. Transitioning is never easy. Change is like that scene from Indiana Jones where you step out into the abyss, hoping the step will appear to keep you from crashing to the ground. Expect discomfort and uncertainty. It’s normal to be frustrated, fearful, or anxious. You’re in the “messy middle” after all. This may be the spot where you’re still not sure of the pros vs cons or perhaps you’re certain of your path, but it’s still an unsettling ride. Go easy on yourself.
2. Set small, intermediate goals. After we lost our house in the wildfire, there was no guidebook — no step-by-step how-to’s to navigate that non-negotiable change. We had to forge ahead towards short-term goals, which was to first find temporary housing, find a builder, clear the property of debris and file insurance claim paperwork. With each goal met, the more confidence and less fear I felt, knowing at least we were making progress. Go step-by-step my Mom advised.
3. Expect a desire to turn back. You may want to circle back around to where things were safe and secure. Maybe you made a mistake that caused even more frustration and you’re wondering what the heck are you doing? Perhaps you’re questioning if all of this turmoil is worth it. There was a time partially through building the new house that I wondered if I shouldn’t have just sold the land, paid off the mortgage and bought an existing home. Other people took that option. Maybe I should have as well. But looking back now, I’m glad I didn’t.
4. Get more information. Input from others may not necessarily make it easier, especially if there is an agenda present that colors their advice. Ask yourself if their counsel is actually an attempt at control vs “helping”? I believe we’re always better off with a wide variety of perspectives before we settle on a path. Some say it’s too confusing to get more information, but I think more heads are better than one. I didn’t have the corner on knowledge when I was in uncertain territory. Ultimately, you have to live with the outcomes, but don’t shut yourself off from resources that could make your choices and future easier.
5. Consider the lost opportunity costs. What would you not experience if you chose to stay put. What people will you not meet if you go? What skills would you not learn? How would this test help you build greater strength and wisdom regardless of which direction you follow? What regrets could you have looking back, if any at all?
6. Have patience. Some of us, especially those in a leadership role, want action NOW! But acting is not always the best path if we haven’t thoroughly identified the challenge or change facing us. Give yourself time to scope out the lay of the land, consult with smart people, listen to those who are closest to the problem or who have been there before. We can’t control everything. Most of the bad things we fear will never happen. We might be pleasantly surprised at what comes from waiting or taking a slower, steady approach.
7. Don’t be afraid to act. If you’re caught between a rock and that proverbial hard place, you must make the best, worst choice. When faced with two unfavorable outcomes, we may not get everything we want in the way we think we want it. Why? Because we can’t see all the possibilities. There are factors beyond our control, inputs that can’t be anticipated, influencers we haven’t yet met.
8. Pray. Yes indeed, prayer is a strategy. No matter what your faith practice, it’s a way to turn your struggles and concerns over to a higher power. “Let go and let God” is one of those sayings I take great comfort in. I don’t believe in being helpless and do accept God wants us to do our best. Many of us wouldn’t think of leaving Him out of the equation as we grapple with our circumstances.
The Pronghorn Herd is Dwindling
Some brave creatures have been seen trotting down our rural roads, which is quite an unusual sight. These may be the strong willed sort that see the writing on the wall and decide to strike out on their own. Or, perhaps they are Scouts in search of better pastures for their pals who wait patiently behind. Which will you be, the Scout, the independent one or a lingerer forced into a corner with few choices left to you?
Should you stay or should you go?
- The Dip by Seth Godin
- Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change by William Bridges, PhD with Susan Bridges