New Beginnings - Is the Grass Really Greener On the Other Side

Karen Fleming

New Beginnings:  A Cautionary Tale

As it becomes very apparent that life is not going back to normal any time soon, many of us have been contemplating our future careers.  We’ve had time on our hands to ponder over our purpose, and to muse the meaning of life.  Having been starved of social connection, we hungrily seek out new associations to fulfil our neglected sense of belonging.

Now is not normal.  Now may not be the best time to be making a life changing decision as we view the world through a distorted lens. A reality check is therefore needed. 

As a child, my favourite story was the tale of the Discontented Pony.   The story tells the tale of a young pony called Merrylegs.  Even though he had everything a little pony needs—a field to run about in, a kindly farmer owner, and farmyard friends, Merrylegs begins to feel discontented with his lot in life.   He discovers the merry go round at the fair and dreams of becoming one of the proud and brightly coloured fairground horses, having a different child ride on his back every day.  But, when he is shunned by the other fairground horses and left tied to a wheel, Merrylegs soon realises that life on the farm was rather nice, after all.  
There are, clearly, many takeaways from this story.  Appreciating what we have in life is a lesson we’ve all learnt recently.  But, if we are attracted to pastures new, how can we ensure we won’t regret it?

The short answer is we can’t.  Life changes don’t come with an insurance policy.  However, what we can do (and I speak as someone who has changed their path on many occasions), is take these factors into consideration:

1.  Remember, there are consequences to every decision we make. 

When we are faced with a life changing decision, it can be easy to minimise these consequences and gloss over the negatives at the prospect of a shining new future.    Ask yourself, what will I lose by making this change?  Be honest with yourself.  Consider all contexts of your life too.  For example, what you may gain by leaving the rat race and moving to the country in terms of your well-being, you could lose out on in your social life.  And, does that matter to you?

2.  Any life change is psychologically demanding, no matter how positive.  

Ensure you have a good support network – wherever you end up.  Whether your move is to a new organisation, or a house on a remote Scottish Island, you will need people around you who can support you.   Draw a network mind map and figure out the kind of support you want and need in your whole life, and who can fulfil each role for you.  Yes, consider the professional networks you need such as who you call on when you need specific advice, but also consider the personal networks that will be important; child care, pet care or a good team of medics are just a few examples.  

3.  As always, make sure your new life honours your values.  

Firstly, you need to be aware of what those values are.  Find out what is truly important to you across all contexts of your life by working with a coach or completing our workbook activity here .  Consider also the new groups of people you are going to be associating with and to what extent they will share your values?    The group’s priorities, behaviours, and how they spend their time will give you a clue as to whether they are going to be a good fit for you.

Unlike Merrylegs, your big life change can be a positive and life enhancing experience.  Follow these tips and make it a decision you won’t regret.

If you are considering a new direction, why not join our programme “Right Life Path” .

Download WorkbookView Right Life Path