If there was one thing I find astounding over and over again, it’s the humans’ ability to postpone living the life they want. I mean, it’s one thing to procrastinate on doing your laundry or going to the gym, but a whole other to be 45 and still slowly preparing, investigating, debating career options and whether you are brave enough, and how much you are not sure if this or that thing will work for you…all while doing a job you hate!…it just seems insane, right?
Well, I’d call it insane if I had not done it myself for so long. In many a job and career I found myself, for the most part, unmotivated, disinterested, bored…I did a great job out of sense of obligation, but I was never truly inspired or happy.
I could write a treatise on various reasons why this went on. From having rule-obeying parents (who taught me to be a rule-obeyer) to being a woman, from wanting to fit in to being a people-pleaser…from being a young, confused person in a seriously messed up country to being a fresh immigrant and not having any family, money, security in America…all great reasons, and yet…who cares?
Bottom line is: I was always waiting for some future moment to experience.. education, liberation, emigration, discovering my inner powers…I just wasn’t the person I knew I could be professionally, and that made me quite unhappy.
A few paradoxes of waiting for (professional) life to happen
Paradox 1: quality of life ends up ruining your life
In my case — and the case of many of my friends stuck in a rut — it is the notion of having a balanced life that gets us screwed up. We feel like at our age we MUST exercise, hang out with friends, eat healthy, have a certain standard of habitation (aka a decent apartment with no roommates), travel, etc. etc. etc. Meanwhile, we spend 40+ hours/week in a job we absolutely hate, which is ruining us psychologically and often physically (if such a separation can be made)
Paradox 2: too picky about the dream career, while working in a total crap career
“I don’t know if being a _______ [insert dream job] will work for me — it could mean long hours and I could get lonely and…” Oh really? Meanwhile, at your current job, you feel forced to work 50+ hours/week for someone else, doing something you hate. Per your daily whining, some idiot is abusing you daily, you despise your coworkers, and have no time for your friends. Well, if that’s not lonely, I don’t know what is.
Paradox 3: waiting for something that will never happen (on its own)
Most smart people would never ever expect a great apartment or a great friend or a great trip or a great school for their kid to fall from the sky. They spend months looking for the right house, weeks researching the best car, ten weekends planning that dream trip…yet the career — the one thing that decidedly determines how satisfied they are in their lives — takes the back burner.
So, what to do?
If you look at your job today, right now, and you don’t deem it worth your capabilities, your brains, your heart, your wits, your kindness, your muscle…why are you still there? More importantly, what are you going to do TODAY to change the situation?
Stop waiting for your life to happen!
Maybe you make a radical move — for example, quit your job on Monday likethis fine lady (whom, incidentally, I found via her fantastic article on decluttering your life by not giving a…). Maybe you write to a recruiter, today, or pull up grad school applications?
Or, pick a direction at least a little bit closer to what you love. If you are obsessed with food, go enroll in a chef school. If you love politics, volunteer for your favorite party. Don’t just sit around mired in indecision.
Or, could it be that you stop whatever you are doing, and spend your Sunday afternoon in a cafe, making an actionable plan to get you out of the moldy mold you are in right now? Then devote two hours a week for the rest of 2016 to making it happen?
I promise you an instant sense of hope and a smile on your face on Monday morning if you do so.