Why you should be worried about the writing on the wall

August 9, 2018

In the beginning, it shows up as an innocuous cough. Nothing disturbing, just a little change in the routine. You ignore it and it raises its voice to be heard. The cough is now more frequent and doesn’t seem to go away. You try the usual home cures – ginger and honey, maybe some turmeric in hot milk. There appears to be some relief but it doesn’t really get cured.

Weeks have passed and the cough is now more pronounced, more irritating. There is now pain in the ribs due to continuous coughing and a slight fever develops. You continue to ignore the condition. You pop in some pills that suppress the fever and life goes on.

Months later, one day, something happens to the body that informs you that all is not well. You drag yourself to the hospital. The doctor examines you and refers you to the laboratory for some tests. You wait casually for the test results.

When the results come in, the doctor’s expression upon seeing the results is a cause for concern. The prognosis is not good. And when the doctor describes the full extent of the health condition, the world comes crashing down.

In a career too, the writing on the wall appears faint in the beginning. At that time, you are probably not even facing the wall. You are busy doing stuff.

Like that innocuous cough, the symptoms begin to show up. The information channel seems to bypass you. You don’t notice it until critical pieces of information that affect your role go missing. The next stage is when plum projects are handed over to a peer. The writing on the wall is getting clear now but who is noticing?

In critical project reviews, you are not invited and your boss fills in for you – by the way, you are at work at that time. You still don’t get the picture. Then the promised promotion never shows up. In the first such instance, you are given good reasons. The reasons seem genuine. The writing on the wall appears in bold and is underlined. But you are too busy to notice it.

Some critical decisions relating to your portfolio are taken by someone else and you get to know of them post facto. Things around you seem to be in a state of perpetual flux. While others come to you to seek relief and you help them make meaning of this confusion, deep down, you are scrambling for answers yourself. Something tells you that things are not fine. Meanwhile, your current lifestyle does not allow you to think of alternatives. You begin imagining that things are fine – ‘this cough will go away!’. By this time, the writing on the wall shows up in extra large font in fluorescent color. You refuse to see it.

In the next year, your name does not appear in the list of promotions, yet again. This time, someone senior sits you down and gives you a long-winded justification of why you are the chosen one for something much bigger and that something will certainly happen in the following year. Meanwhile, at work, things are not going well at all. You get that gut feeling. There is a feeling of not being in control, not knowing where to go. You begin feeling lonely. You try your best to keep your calm trying everything from bottled spirit to spirituality.

And then one day, someone delivers the prognosis…at work.

Train yourself to face the right wall. Train your nose to pick that new smell. Train your eyes to spot the writing when it first appears on the wall in faint characters. Train yourself to develop alternate plans. Train yourself to act quickly.

The sickness symptoms or the writing on the wall are like a well-wisher’s advice, a premonition.

Don’t ignore them.


As a part of Career Coaching offering, I help individuals revisit their career trajectory and create new futures. I am currently helping individuals who are going through a mid-career crisis to imagine an alternate future.

Are you already seeing the writing on the wall that suggests some quick action? If yes, click on the ‘Services’ tab and sign up for Career Coaching.

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  • agent ntc33 says:

    Greetings! Veery useful advice within this article!
    It’s the little changes that produce the biggest changes.

    Thanks for sharing!

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