Are you wrestling with a decision to make a significant life change?
A few years ago, I met with a young woman over coffee referred to me by a mutual friend. She was wrestling with the decision of whether or not to look for a new job. It was her first job out of college. She felt that she had outgrown the role, was being overlooked for a promotion, and would have more opportunities in a new job. She was also single and wanted to meet more people in the same stage of life, but most of the people in her office were older and had families. She asked the question that I hear a lot as a Christian Productivity Coach: "How do I know if this change is God's will or my will?"
Obviously, I didn't know the answer to that. The goal of any decision is obedience to God. But I believe that God shapes the desires of our hearts according to His plan and purpose for us. It's no a coincidence that one person is passionate about building schools in the Congo, and another is working to bring more diversity and quality to the tech sector. We all have different desires according to the experiences, opportunities, and gifts that God has given us. These things that we are passionate about, when examined prayerfully, can serve as a compass to help us make decisions with greater intention.
So as I sat with this young woman over coffee, I encouraged her to ask these three questions.
Most of my coaching clients struggle with this question, and that's ok (we all do). This question takes our eyes off of the problems of our situation and refocuses us on the possibility. It moves us from what we can see in our current reality to the faith of what only God can do. We serve a God of more than we can ask or imagine, so what's the best situation you can imagine? Write that down. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you write.
Of course, we don't live in a perfect world. We will face challenges in every situation. Often, these challenges are how we grow and mature in Christ. But this question helps us identify the gap between where we are and where we want to be. This question often reveals the surprising truth about the real reason we want to make a life change. (Hint: it's not always what we think.)
For the young woman I sat with over coffee, she envisioned a perfect world where she had unlimited potential for growth, where she would have a boss that would mentor her, a voice in decision making, and where she could be part of a young and fun culture.
Once we have identified the gap and tapped into the source of our frustration, we can take action.
One day last year, I was complaining to my husband about a situation. He said, "You don't get to complain about it if you're not willing to work to make it better." It was some tough love, but he was right. I was choosing to be a victim instead of a powerful person in my own life.
This question is not about what we need other people to do for us to be happy. That's rarely a strategy for success. The question is about what we can do to align our current situation with the perfect world picture we have in our heads.
The young woman I sat with over coffee recognized that she had developed a bad attitude, and the quality of her work was suffering because she wasn't happy to be there. As she thought aloud, she realized this was probably why her boss was not giving her more responsibility or asking for her input. She decided she would have a positive and helpful attitude at work, work in excellence whether it was recognized or not (working as unto God), and ask for more responsibility at work.
Not every situation is fixable, no matter how hard we try. There are times when God calls us to a new job, a new business, a new city, or a new relationship. We already know that we won't find the perfect job, city, business, or relationship. But using your perfect world picture as a compass, what are some things you need in your next opportunity to move closer to your desired life?
I encourage you to be as specific as possible in this exercise. To the young woman I met within the coffee shop, I encouraged her to write down every detail about what her next job might look like based on her perfect world picture: the culture, the dress, code, the commute, the work style of her boss, her daily responsibilities, her co-workers, everything. A few months later, she texted me and said she was now working in her dream job that had everything she wrote on her list.
If you are wrestling with making a significant life change, consider spending some time in prayer with these questions this week.
I'm cheering you on.
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