One half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it. ~Sidney Howard
A common discussion topic that comes up in career coaching is that of sacrifice. For most people, it becomes apparent sooner or later that, in order to move forward, something must be left behind. When it comes to growth of any kind, there’s almost always a tradeoff—something comfortable that must be shed in the hopes that something better (though uncomfortable, scary and risky at first) will ultimately replace it.
Here’s an example: If you’re looking to start a brand new career, you could face a harsh reality. In order to break into the new field, you may need to leave that cushy job you’ve been in and accept a low-paying, entry-level position. You may need to learn new skills or even go back to school. Depending on where you are in your current career, this can feel like a frustrating step backwards. These things can force you (and your family) to make all kinds of uncomfortable adjustments.
So you have to ask yourself:
What am I willing to sacrifice in order to grow? What am I willing to release now to get closer to my career goals in the future?
Sometimes, it requires a change in lifestyle or a willingness to start over again, no matter how long it takes to rebuild what you lose in the process. Sometimes, it means letting go of the things you’ve already worked so hard to achieve and recognizing that you still have a lot to learn. Sometimes, it means releasing the fear that’s prevented you from making this leap up to this point.
In most cases, there is at least some form of sacrifice required for progress. And the only person who can determine whether or not it’s worthwhile is YOU.
So I encourage you to look at what’s really important. When a career decision must be made, carefully evaluate the risks and rewards. What will be left behind? What will take its place? What do you really want, and what are you willing to give up in return? What price are you willing to pay? And how much is too much?
These aren’t easy questions. They force you to look at the whole picture and how your career impacts other areas of life. It’s not just about the money, or the title, or the lifestyle. It’s about ALL of these things and what they mean as a whole—to you, your family, and your future. That’s what career nourishment is really all about.
The answers to these questions are almost never black and white, and you can’t predict the future. No matter how thoroughly you weigh your options, there will always be risk. You may sacrifice everything for a career move only to realize it’s not what you thought it would be. These things happen, and you learn a lot when they do. So give every sacrifice careful consideration. Ask the hard questions and make the hard decisions when you think the time is right. Recognize that in every opportunity for growth, something is gained and something else is lost. There’s nothing wrong with it, though. That’s the cycle of life. That’s evolution in process.