when is the right time to move on?
5 things to consider
I do love a bit of tennis. I always fancied myself as a tennis mom*. Travelling the world, wearing sunglasses and drinking G&T and eating strawberries. Instead, I am a triple rugby mom, with a bit of rowing now thrown in for variety. This all mainly involves travelling the length and breadth of the midlands every weekend and dealing with a lot of mud and bruising. And not understanding the rules. I understand tennis, it doesn’t have many rules. Rugby, on the other hand, has an infinite number, of which I have mastered about five.
Anyway, I digress. My favourite player is Rafa Nadal (more on him at a later date, I’m sure) but today I am interested in chatting about Ash Barty. She’s 25, and recently decided to retire from tennis. She’s won 3 grand slams (I saw her play on her way to her Wimbledon title) and no doubt has more in her to win. She’s 25, and has decided that that is enough professional tennis for her, thank you very much. Everyone seems to have an opinion on this.
She said this as way of explanation.
Yeah, it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. I’ve had a lot of incredible moments in my career that have been pivotal moments. Wimbledon last year changed a lot for me as a person and for me as an athlete when you work so hard your whole life for one goal, and I’ve been able to share that with so many incredible people. But to be able to win Wimbledon which was my dream, my one true dream that I wanted in tennis, that really changed my perspective and I just had that gut feeling after Wimbledon and had spoken to my team quite a lot about it. There was just a little part of me that wasn’t quite satisfied, wasn’t quite fulfilled.
Then came the challenges of the Australian Open and I think that for me just feels like the most perfect way, my perfect way to celebrate what an amazing journey my tennis career has been. As a person this is what I want. This is what I want to chase after some other dreams that I’ve always wanted to do and I’ve always had that really healthy balance, but I’m really really excited.
Now, I am not a tennis champion, indeed I am not sure I am an anything champion (my business did win young enterprise of the year award when I was in sixth form) and I am pretty confident that most of you reading are not tennis champions either. (If you are, please get in touch.)
But, MANY of you, many that I work with on The Purpose Pursuit Coaching Course, ask me when is the right time to leave, to move on, to do something different? And so, there is wisdom in this nugget that we can take away and apply to our own thinking.
• Be aware of the mountaintop disappointment
There is a known phenomenon that people experience when they succeed. You think you will feel unbridled elation and excitement, but actually for many people this is not the case.
• What do you want?
There are many forces at work that guide our decisions. Society. Family. Responsibilities. Finances. And some of these are very important. But, there is a very important lesson in what Ash Barty has decided – what does she want? There will be those that say she is wasting further opportunity. Her family may have hoped she would be the best tennis player of all time. But you can see that she has made this decision based on a sense of self, what she wants. I am always impressed by people who have the presence of mind and self-knowledge to know that they do not want to chase after dreams and goals that they just don’t want. They know it’s no longer their path, their desire.
Ash has made a decision. Yes, she took some time to do so – you can see in this statement that she began to feel the churn after winning Wimbledon and knew the time was coming. She didn’t do something in haste, but she hasn’t waited and waited for months and years to land a decision. We so worry about making a decision, we forget that we are making a decision by not making one. You are always doing something, so do it proactively, rather than passively.
•Think it through
I often talk about this simple question with my clients. Coined by Dr. Pepper, what’s the worst that could happen? In every situation and decision we make, I believe that many of us have a tendency toward over-egging the likelihood of defeat and total doom, and under-egging the likelihood of it working out. But even if it doesn’t work out – fully consider the worst that could happen. And, if you can make a plan, for ‘if the worst that could happen’, then you are limiting its impact. For Ash, the worst that could happen is that she realises she misses tennis and decides to start playing again. For many of us, the worst that could happen is that we don’t like the new job or we don’t get the new job and we have to find another one. Now this may be too much of a risk for some of us, but I think, for many of you, this is well within what you can handle and maybe you need to just try it out, knowing that most decisions don’t have to be permanent.
A little note here – there will be some of us reading this that actually do have a leaning towards thinking everything will always be fine, and jump headlong in to new and exciting things. Maybe find a trusted friend to help you consider some scenarios that you might not have considered. It’s important to recognise that things don’t always work out how we’d like them to.
•Seek out advice
You have to make the final decision on your life, and this can’t (sadly) be effectively contracted out to friends or family. We have to live out what we choose, and we have to own the choices that we make. But, there is such a thing as wise counsel and I am so grateful to have received it over and over again in my life. Both asking good questions, helping me overcome doubt, helping me see more of what I am capable of, giving me words of caution and deliberation when I have had the potential to go out of the blocks too quickly. Ultimately, I have to land my own choices, alongside my husband and kids. But many, many wise people, with different strengths and experiences than my own have been lifesavers in moments of decision.
Now, big decisions are never easy. But there is such a good feeling when we land them. Living in the land of indecision is uncomfortable and lacks peace. Even if your decision is something such as – ‘I will leave this for 6 months and will not talk about or consider it’ – that’s a decision – perpetually mulling over options and maybes and googling jobs and potential masters and new houses and new lives with no progress is exhausting. Don’t do it to yourself. Put some parameters around your decisions, and then just make it. Who knows if it will be the best decision? Is there even a best decision out there, or just the one you choose and commit to?
You can always go after bigger and better. But do make sure that that is really what you want – success comes with costs – be sure it’s a price you’re willing to pay.
Happy decision making,
*it says mom not because I am American but we say mom in Birmingham and the Black Country. Never mum.
P.S. My coaching course is coming again soon – you can find out more here and register your interest (some very exciting developments for this coming cohort)
P.P.S. I’m doing a live stream tomorrow (Thursday 31st) with a friend of mine, Sally, where we will be discussing perimenopause and her new course “Thrive through the perimenopause’ Join us at 11:30 am on Instagram @hannahloumiler