Just Another Fork in the Road?
I remember an old riddle (if you every want to stump someone, this one will do it). Here it is: You are standing in front of two doors. Behind one door is certain death, the other, heaven. You don’t know which door is which. In front of one door is a man who always tells the truth, the other a man who always tells a lie, but you don’t know who is who. You can ask one question of either of the men to find the door to heaven. What is that question? Think about it and let me know your guess. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll give you the answer.
This is hypothetical of course, how many of our life decisions carry this all or nothing consequence? Actually, I believe we face forks in the road so often that we tend not to think twice about most of them. We seem to train ourselves to go to our gut and make a choice – using our “gut instincts”. Most of us get to the point where we gain significant trust in our gut instincts, following them for even our most consequential decisions. They’ve served us well in most cases, after all. We may even do tons of research only to make the final decision based on our gut. Ever done that? I have. But, are there forks in the road when we should avoid following our gut instincts? Cases when they could mislead even the best of us? I’m sure you can think of a few; perhaps a review of past mistakes will help point some out. One I seem to spot everywhere I look is when people who, frustrated with their work, feeling “Locked In” like prisoners, face the decision of what to do. In my book, Unlock Your Life” I describe the tension of being Locked In:
Are you tired, complacent, dull, frustrated, burdened, bored? We all feel this way now and then. Depleted, we need to replenish our souls and restore a proper balance. Maybe it’s more. A much-needed break fails to rejuvenate, and you return as if you never left? Stuck due to circumstances? Disconnected? Out of place, with something missing? A mismatch for your job? Disappointed with where you are? Fixated on escaping your situation, you want out but are convinced you’re just dreaming, unrealistic? Masking over discontent? Barely hanging on? Wasting away or dying? “There must be more to life than this?!”
Take some time, step back, and ask, “Am I living a vibrant fulfilling life?”
Have you been there before? Could you be at this fork in the road now? When I ask people in these situations what they plan to do about it, they say: “I hate my job so I need to find a new job.” I say, “…this may well be true, but what job? Follow your gut instincts and you may well end up with a new job only to find yourself feeling the same, stuck and unfulfilled.”
Our gut instincts say: “Frustrated at work, I need a new job!”
The issue is this…. Our gut instincts only deal in the same realm as the problem. Yet, the root of the problem, and the corresponding solution, could well be in the spiritual realm. The common result of years of making decisions like this based on gut instincts is a Locked In life. It will be hit or miss if you can find fulfillment in work by following our gut instincts – each gut instinct decision simply putting new window dressing on your quest for fulfillment. In fact, the move to a new job might well be the last step to take if you want a fulfilling life of adventure.
When Locked In, the first move is to engage the spiritual realm.
I learned this first hand many years ago now. I was experiencing all of the “symptoms” of being Locked In. Looking from the outside, one would never suspect this. All looked great from a worldly sense: Steady good-paying job, solid, well-run company, home in nice neighborhood… And I certainly felt I needed everything it provided to support my family and lifestyle. But something wasn’t right. I lacked adventure and fulfillment and it was eating me alive from within. My gut instinct was to look for a new job so I pulled my resume together and started to do some networking. Even had a few interviews. But the words of an old boss hung over me, “same problems, different people.” I realized that simply switching companies or positions would not bring fulfillment – a shot at adventure that wouldn’t deliver on its promise. I knew there was more for me, a greater work. But what?
That’s when I made a deliberate move closer to God.
As I pursued my relationship with him, he led me through a process, ultimately opening up whole new possibilities…far beyond my wildest imagination. This crucial first step was not simply praying to God for a job. Nor was it just reading the Bible or going to church more. It was the pursuit of intimacy; to know him better. As I began to grow deeper in intimacy with God, he led me to get honest with myself – Who did God really make me to be? Seeing some disconnects, I realized I needed to surrender some career dreams I had had for a long time. Hard, but liberating! Then, he helped me get a clear idea of what he made me to do; not a job, a purposeful work.…scary because it was so different than what I had been doing. I would have to learn to do new things and push into areas that I had previously thought I was not good at. To top it off, he gave me powerful motive.
Now knowing myself better, he asked: “Who can you serve? How will their life change because of your service to them?”
He gave me a Life Mission to pursue, leading me to an unexpected life of adventure; the ride of my life! Challenging, fulfilling and I got to know God like never before.
When we make these kinds of decisions based on our gut instincts, we miss out on following the inspiration of God – the one who put us here, in this place, right now, for a reason. We miss out on getting to work side by side with our father pursuing his agenda for our life. One of my favorite verses is:
“Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.” King David – Psalm 37:5–6
Once you do this, all I can say is “Hold on!” Your life will never be the same and will be so much better than you ever could imagine.
Pursue your adventure with God! Find guidance to get your adventure started in my book, Unlock Your Life, 5 Steps and a Jump to Living the Adventure God Made You For