"What am I doing with my life?"
Most people who aren't happy with their jobs ask themselves this question daily.
If you're wondering if you should quit your job, you probably should. But in case you need the extra reassurance, ask yourself these two questions:
· Do I love what I do?
· Am I making a difference in the world?
If you answered yes to both, I'm sincerely happy for you -- but you probably won't get much out of this post.
If, on the other hand, you answered no to even just one -- stick around.
"No one loves their job."
I learned about the cold and merciless expectations of the working world from my father.
"No one loves their job, son. People have bills to pay," he'd admonish.
"But I don't want to grow up!" I'd kick and scream while tears streamed down my face.
I was 27.
All throughout college, I struggled with embracing the concept of the real world.
I knew what I loved -- writing, music, photography, and connecting with others. But I soon realized that society doesn't care what you enjoy. All it cares about is that you're planning on getting a real job.
But here's the problem with getting a 9 to 5: people are rapidly starting to realize that it isn't the lifestyle for them.
According to a recent Career Builder survey, only 59% of American employees reported being satisfied with their jobs.
So what's the hang-up? Why can't people just make the necessary adjustments in their lives and stop being miserable?
Society Is Confused
Realize that there is no one-size-fits-all way to make a living. Society pushes everyone towards the same cookie-cutter working lifestyle: Work (at least) 40 hours a week, pay your bills, save the rest of your money for your later years -- if you even live that long.
What the $@%&?
You are responsible for your well-being, no one else. You could spend the rest of your working life being absolutely miserable and no one would bat an eyelash, as long as you're being "responsible."
You can pay your bills and enjoy yourself, you just have to be a little creative. There is no exact formula for success. You can work a 9-to-5, several part-time jobs, or start your own thing.
But if you're serious about cultivating the lifestyle you want, you first need to assess whether you're on the right path.
Recognize when your work routine isn't working for you
I knew it was time to leave my job when two things became evident.
First, I wasn't happy. It got to the point where I was dreading appointments with my clients. I got into the field because I wanted to help people, but something was off. I wasn't utilizing my full potential. I wasn't in my element. Working as a therapist wasn't the right fit.
Second, I realized my job was making me a liar. I kept telling myself I would work on my own personal projects whenever I had time, but I never did. I wanted to take all of my interests and turn them into a viable business, where I could connect with others through my writing, my voice, and my photography. But I was so busy with the work I was taking home with me that by the time I finished, I was too exhausted to do anything else -- stuck in a vicious cycle where my creative energy was zapped out of me by the end of the day.
My routine wasn't working for me. I needed to plan my escape.
The Two Ingredients To Loving Your Work
You can create a lifestyle that you love as long as two things are true:
1) you're doing work that you love
2) you're adding value to the world
Though I was adding value to the world, I left my job as a therapist in the mental health field because I didn't love what I was doing. I wasn't doing work that lit my soul on fire. This is important. You need to have both.
This is why so many people finish grad school only to find themselves in the same predicament they were in before they started.
Pay doesn't matter. Power doesn't matter. Loving what you do and making a difference to others does.
Commit To Taking Action
It's easy to say you're going to take action, but unless you create a plan, nothing will happen.
I know because I've been there too many times. "I should start my own business," I'd announce, only to let the idea slowly die off as I continued to go through the motions of whatever job I was dissatisfied with.
So how do you commit to action?
Write things down.
You don't have to storm into your office tomorrow and shout out, "I'M DONE, BITCHES!" I'm not asking you to burn any bridges. Committing to action simply means coming up with a plan by setting dates for when you'll do things.
Mark a date on your calendar for when you'll leave your job to pursue whatever it is you want to do -- whether it's a creative project, side-business, or backpacking across Europe. This will give you something to look forward to, and you'll also be able to create a plan of action.
Overcoming Your Personal Conflicts
If your life were a movie, what would make it worth watching? Here's the answer: It's how you overcome conflict. What's usually the biggest conflict people have to face when it comes to chasing their dreams?
But these are no ordinary critics. These people will attempt to stifle your spirit, extinguish your creativity, and convince you that your dreams are mere delusions. And they always seem to push the right buttons, because they know you better than anyone else. So who are they?
Your family and friends.
I'm not saying family and friends are bad people; they generally want to see you succeed. But unless they share your vision, a lot of them are just going to discourage you.
Most people never make it past this hurdle. The expectations of their family and friends are so great, that it dictates exactly how they will live out the rest of their lives. They would rather be free of conflict than risk disappointing their loved ones, even if it's at the expense of pursuing their life's mission.
Don't let this be you.
You must have faith in yourself, because you're better than you think you are.
I Feel Your Pain
I know what it's like to question what you're doing with your life. The older I get, the more I start to value what I do with my time. It started with cutting the distractions out of my life. But it didn't take me long to realize that the biggest distraction of all was the one I was spending 40-50 hours a week of my time on.
I realized that my job wasn't working for me -- that what I really wanted to pursue was my own project, where I could reach out to people all over the world with my writing and podcasts. Naturally, this meant having to deal with doubters and naysayers. It also meant having to push through the fear that taking the risk to do what I really wanted might result in failure.
But I'd rather deal with failure than the pain of regret.
This isn't some random rags-to-riches story. Rather, I'm hoping this will serve to inspire those of you who are tired of the ordinary. I chose to pursue something I'm passionate about by setting aside six months of living expenses and going for it - and I regret nothing.
This post is for those of you who are sick of talking about things and ready to start doing. If you're not happy with your life, take action. If you ever feel stuck, send me an email and let's talk. That's why I started my blog: So people can find inspiration and take action towards achieving the lifestyle they want.
Remember the two ingredients to being fulfilled with your work: love what you do and add value to the world. As long as those are present, amazing things start to happen.
If you enjoyed this article, check out my guide, Stop Dreaming and Start Doing: How To Actually Do What You Love, for free at peoplepassionate.com