In 2004 I left a career that I loved at Microsoft so Patty and I could team-homeschool our son Trevor. With Trevor being on the autism spectrum, we felt he was going to need more help in his transition from 6th to 7th grade than the school system would provide. I focused on math and science, and Patty focused on arts and languages. We ultimately mainstreamed him back into public school by 9th grade. Today he is a college graduate, living on his own, paying his own bills, and leading a typical life for someone his age. Each time I look at my son I'm reminded of how the decision we made in 2004 was so right.
Fast-forward to today. My career post-Microsoft has been extremely fulfilling as an author, consultant, and publisher. But I deep down wondered what our life would have been like had I stayed at Microsoft. I decided to go through an exercise where I looked at what our life was like today versus what I thought it would be like had I stayed at Microsoft. This is where something I created called The Eight Drivers of Contentment comes into play.
In my Eight Drivers of Contentment Seminar I focus on eight specific dimensions of your life and help you to assess your level of contentment in each of those areas. The drivers are as follows:
What I've found in giving the seminar and helping others is that the contentment drivers are very helpful not just in assessing your overall contentment, but also in making life decisions, i.e. changing jobs or purchasing a home. By looking at each decision alternative through the lens of the eight contentment drivers, it forces the decision maker to look at how the decision will impact his/her overall happiness, as opposed to looking at it from only a limited set of contentment drivers. As example, many people look at the decision of whether or not to take a new job through two lenses: financial and professional. While these are certainly important to consider, what about the impact on areas such as family, relationships, or health? There may be great career and financial potential with a new job, but if it means adverse impact to other areas of your life is it still worth it? By looking at decision alternatives through the eight contentment drivers you are forced to consider each driver and assess what life is/will be like for each driver.
To help with your decision-making, I've included a simple Excel spreadsheet. To breathe some life into how you complete the spreadsheet, I've also included an example which I've copied below. In this fictional example, I articulated, for each contentment area, what life will be like if I take a new job versus what it is like in my existing job. I then color coded each box red/yellow/green to emphasize the degree of favorability/unfavorability for each alternative. The result was a good graphical view of how life would be under each alternative.
In completing your decision alternatives, it's important for you to keep a few things in mind:
As this relates to my decision to leave Microsoft, I reconfirmed that leaving to homeschool and start an alternate career as a consultant, author and publisher was the right overall decision for us. While we did sacrifice in a couple of areas, the overall benefits of leaving were worth what we gave up.
More life decisions are likely around the corner for you. The next time you're faced with a big decision, consider using the eight contentment drivers to help you holistically understand each of your alternatives and make a better-informed decision.
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