It’s the perfect time to pursue your dream! I’m actually excited to type that and relay that to you, and at the same time, I completely understand how that might not feel exciting for you, but let’s talk it out.
One of my favorite challenges to help people overcome is “I hate my job, I want to do something that makes me happy but I don’t know what.”
I’ve been in that stuck place before too, by the way. I actually developed a fear of quitting the last corporate job I had because I worried that I would never find a job that I loved. I worried that there was just something wrong with me, cause everyone else seemed to be just fine with the daily mediocrity, climbing up the corporate ladder, talking mindlessly about the traffic and weather, etc. Working started to feel more like dating than how I thought a long-term, steady career would feel—I wondered, was “the one” even a real thing in the working world?
HELL YES it is! See, in all caps. I am telling you that with absolute certainty and joy, because as soon as I found my way into the coaching seat, I knew I could do this for life. That was over two years ago and the feeling has grown stronger, the vision I have for my career is so much bigger, I really feel amazing! So yeah, ha, I suppose it is like a relationship after all—even when you think you love it more than anything, you keep finding new levels of love for it.
So why is today the perfect time, in the middle of this pandemic rollercoaster, while a significant majority of the economy crumbles, and everything feels uncertain? Well for starters, let’s just sweep off the surface level logistics.
First, I bet you’re not commuting to your job right now, so you just scored some extra time.
Second, you aren’t even legally allowed to have plans right now, so your social calendar is free as oxygen. Can’t be using that as a buffer.
Third, if you’ve been clinging onto that dull, lifeless job for the financial security and benefits, what’s that lookin’ like right now? I mean, even if you are in one of the companies that’s booming, if you’re just in it for the money, that soul-sucking feeling you get when you wake up and instantly remember you have to brush your teeth and put on your face and put on your (sigh) work clothes just to contribute to someone else’s big dream of a company—yeah that treacherous feeling doesn’t just move out of your soul one day.
We’ve all been doing the status quo thing for a long time, and I think it’s important to ask ourselves, why?! Why has “go to school, go to college, get a 9-5 that’s actually more like an 8-6, buy your house and have your children and raise them in the exact same cycle” been the approved way to make it in life? Why is it weird when someone takes a gap year to travel instead of going straight to college? Why is it weird when someone changes degrees four times because they don’t like the ones they chose? This isn’t just an emphatic protest, there’s real psychology to this.
The prime focus in the past has been on securing money, which is so necessary to thrive and I am 100% for making money. It helps us meet our basic human need, which is safety. I don’t think money is the problem—the problem is that we’ve been conditioned for safety so we solely pursue the job for the money. The idea is “make money, enough of it, and you can buy groceries, pay the internet bill, go on some trips to Disney World with your kids and retire and have enough money in your 401k to ride this life-thing out.”
Do well in school so you can go to a reputable university where you can get a degree that will land your resume a spot that’s higher in the candidate pool.
The status quo focus is making sure you’re creating safety (income) with your job, and it disregards the fact that humans want to do much more than just earn a paycheck—we want to do something that matters! We want to create, to contribute, to offer our skills in a way that brings us aliveness.
I want to say it again, having a well-paying job is great. So is learning, challenging yourself, having a depth of understanding of your practice, being able to grow to greater heights with it, all of that is great.
The problem is if the job you’re in is unfulfilling–the office is miserable and you can’t stand one more day of the mediocrity– that paycheck will never be enough. Your soul is asking you to aim for a higher human need, it’s likely yearning for growth, connection and contribution. Using your skills and gifts and making a bigger impact somewhere. There’s so much more for you! (I was tempted to write that in caps again, but I actually don’t like when people rely on big letters to emphasize a point, so you’re spared.)
Now a couple of things you might be saying to yourself as you’re flirting with the thought of new possibility: one, “I have an idea of what I would love to do but I don’t know how to transition/make money at it.” Or two, “I have no clue what kind of job/work I would love, so I’m stuck.”
Those are two different problems but they stem from the very same cause: a lack of trust. It’s that you’re not trusting yourself to be able to succeed (and create enough money) at the thing you know you love. Or, you’re not trusting yourself to make the right decision about what would bring you fulfillment.
This loops right back to what I shared earlier about the way we’re conditioned to live our lives—from school to university to corporate—when it came time to move on from your senior year of high school, you trusted this blueprint for success that someone outside of you said was the right way. Even if it wasn’t directly spoken to you but the notion was ingrained from social norms. (By the way, surely that “someone” meant well as they wanted you to thrive in life, so this isn’t about making anyone wrong.)
You were young, you hardly had any experience in the world, how could you know what you were really signing up for when you chose a degree? You knew a little bit, but you haven’t worked a “9-5” before, it’s one thing to imagine it and it’s a whole different world living out that choice everyday.
That’d be like deciding the first boy/girl you kissed would automatically be your husband/wife. I mean, for a few unicorns out there, that’s the story, but for the rest of us? Ew, I’m glad mine wasn’t a lifetime guarantee. I needed to date and learn more about who I wanted to be as a partner and have as a partner.
I think it’s a common thing that many of us at some point in life have drifted on autopilot into the land of “supposed-to-dos”, we let the machine drive us instead of actively participating in where we wanted to go. And when we wake up and realize that, it can feel hard to figure out how to be the confident, decisive pilot again.
This is the time in coaching when people have this beautiful “aha” moment and observe that the total misery they’re experiencing is just a little lack of self-trust. The first question I get at this point is, well how do I fix this? (Yay!) I love this question, it’s the first empowered recognition one has from this space—that “I fix this” is the answer. Nobody else is responsible for your joy or fulfillment, that’s all you.
The next part is all about recreating a connection with yourself. It’s about rebuilding trust within you, and creating confidence, clarity, self-validation, boundaries that let in only what you want, and peace instead of anxiety.
There are lots of ways to dive into this, but one first important step is forgiveness. When your best friend breaks your trust, what’s the first thing you need to do to move forward? You make up and forgive her, otherwise you’re only participating in that friendship to the degree it feels safe. That’s not a best friend. So, same with you—you must forgive yourself for any decisions you’ve made up to this point that didn’t land you on a fulfilling path. You did your best with what you knew, and now you know better so you can do better.
True forgiveness is intentional, you can’t glaze over it cause you can’t fake yourself out, your soul won’t let that happen. So think on that first, what would feel like an authentic apology for you? Would it be a written letter to that past you? It might be talking it through with someone you trust as a sounding board. Or doing a mirror process, really looking into your own eyes as you reconcile with the choices you’ve made and recognize you have the power to change them moving forward.
You’ve got this.
After you do the forgiving you get to do some fun things. The next steps are like dating yourself—taking time to remember who you are and what you really love. You get to be curious, try on new things and let go of things you’ve been tolerating for 4/14/40 years.
Try this: create a list of things that make you feel really good. Include experiences, events, interactions with people, activities, food/drinks, things in your environment—go broad with the possibility to get specific with the results. Examples: I love listening to a friend’s problem and helping her find a solution for it. I love when my dogs greet me at the door every time I walk in. I love exercising outside when lots of people are out. Make a big list!
Then, do the list again for things that feel the opposite. Examples: I feel confined, restricted and uninspired when I work a desk job for someone else. I loathe going to loud bars where I can’t hear the people I’m out to connect with. I get cranky when I don’t have structure in my schedule.
The point here is about getting to know yourself better on a micro level, so you can get much better at creating boundaries that honor what you love and keep out what you don’t. From there, you’re much more equipped to make empowering decisions for yourself—including figuring out what kind of job you’d love to do, and knowing you can find a way to thrive at it.
The journey to merging with your dream will likely include a lot more steps—I’d be suspicious if it didn’t. Cause we’re humans and not quick-fixer-uppers. But I encourage you to start there, on the relationship with yourself. And, if you really want more specifics to know what else you can do, let’s hop on a call! I love connecting with people and sharing solutions (see above).
There are a lot of people facing the turbulence of the economy right now and feeling uncertain about work. Please share this with a friend who needs some hope and brighter perspective!
All the best to you on your journey—the world needs what you have to share.