I would define a crisis as an event that creates a “before” and an “after.” After the crisis happens, nothing will be the same.
Typically we think of a crisis as something that happens from the outside. In fact, we can create our own crises. Sometimes they happen almost automatically.
For instance, suppose you’ve set your heart on a big goal. You work hard to reach that goal. Then along the way, you realize you no longer feel invested in that goal. You begin to consider giving up. It is very difficult to rekindle excitement after you consider walking away.
Or suppose you catch yourself thinking, “I really don’t belong here. I ought to take steps to do something else.” It’s very hard to get that voice out of your head.
Of course many crises come from external events. You get a negative performance review, for the first time in your career. You get a new boss who seems determined to drive you out. You might even be laid off or encouraged to move on.
Some consultants say that a crisis is defined by the emotional toll it takes on you and your family.
But that’s not the whole story because:
The ONE challenge of a crisis is that you’ve got to make a decision about what to do next. You need to take some steps. You might be able to do nothing, and sometimes you’ll be fine. More often, it’s risky to try that approach.