Last week we looked at the cycle of Act-->Reflect and I talked about how people can get so caught up in the Act phase that they never leave time for reflection. I suggested that we needed to insert strategic reflection into the process so that our cycle of activities could create more intentional action.
But for many people caught in a career quandry, the issue is not too much action, but too much reflection. They become obsessed with thinking about their career situation, imagining various options, researching and questioning until they are lost in the labyrinth of their own minds.
Too much reflection can be as dangerous as too much action. When we think too much about our careers, without engaging in strategic action, we can become chained to our fears and insecurities. Our egos are masters at pointing out all the reasons why we SHOULDN'T act. They tell us that mistakes are bad, that we don't have the skills or talents to forge a new path or that we should be "practical" and stick with what we know. Ego can be the enemy of action because its role is to protect us and keep us "safe."
The antidote for too much reflection, of course, is to look for ways we can take action in our lives. One of the things I try to do daily is to think about my values--what's important to me--and to plan at least one action that day that can help me express those values. I will also look at my career goals, what I hope to accomplish, and from that devise actions I can take to move toward those goals. This post on moving from insight to action offers some additional ideas.
For our own career and professional growth we need a healthy balance of action and reflection. Too much action can leave us exhausted and out of alignment with our values and goals. Too much reflection distorts reality and paralyzes us, making it impossible to move toward our goals. We need to find the "sweet spot" where we reflect enough to make our actions intentional and we are acting enough to move ourselves foward. A healthy career diet means we are acting and reflecting.