Looking back on my old career, I was always preoccupied with how things seemed not how they were. I was thinking about getting through the next meeting without making a fool of myself. Of fitting into consulting. Of making the client like me. Of beating people to promotion.
I rarely, if ever thought about authentically improving. In a high pressured career I don't know if you really do. But I'm thinking it now. And, as Dan Pink points out below, I wish I had made fundamental, not incidental decisions.
I think the moment I knew I couldn't carry on consulting is when I realised that I could never live with myself if I didn't at least try and use my talents to do things I felt were worthwhile. That, no matter what the financial or status cost, I could never live with myself if I hadn't acted authentically.
Of course, it's hard when you're building a career to think in these terms. But it's harder if you leave it. The time to think authentically is now.