Hey you! Yeah, YOU! What have you been up to? These are crazy times we’re living in with distractions galore. These distractions can take our focus off of what’s most important and what matters most, and have us reacting all day long – social media, calls, texts, emails, emergencies,family, friends, work, finances, home and auto repairs, social unrest – and let’s not forget – COVID-19!! Mental health needs are at an all-time high and, even under the best of circumstances, it can be difficult to not just react and put out one fire after another. But, at the end of the day, how are you feeling? How much closer are you getting to your own goals and living the life you dreamed of as a young adult?
I’m hearing many people talking about what a shit-show 2020 has been and hoping that it’s not just a prequel to 2021. I’m here to tell you that no year, month, week, or day holds any meaning – ominous or otherwise – other than the meaning we give it. So, if you’re blaming the state of your finances, health, relationships on an arbitrary year or other happening, you’re setting yourself up for failure. It’s true that we can’t always control our circumstances and what life may throw at us; however, we can control what we do, what we think, and how we feel. We can certainly plan and set ourselves up for success to the greatest extent possible. We can watch our spending, budget wisely, and purchase only things we absolutely need instead of every bright, shiny object we may want.
I was just speaking with a friend who was lamenting her unhappiness with her job. We discussed her pattern of excitedly starting a new job with high hopes and expectations, only to be disillusioned, disappointed, bored, and wanting to quit within weeks. She has not found her niche within an organization or her dream job. She even took a lengthy sabbatical to figure it out, with no luck. She is now a couple of months in to a new job and is dealing with the all-too-familiar let-down. Quitting is not an option for her this time around, given such uncertain times. So, what are the options. Certainly, she could start looking for another job, but she really doesn’t want another job. She wants to do some soul-searching and figure out what she can do long-term that will give her the feeling of contribution and personal satisfaction that she craves. In this case, there are several options.
Option 1 is to accept the circumstances as-is and find a way to make peace with it.
Option 2 is to change the circumstances – change jobs, start a business, explore other opportunites without limits.
Option 3 is to change the perception and meaning of the current job while exploring other opportunities, planning, and laying the foundation for living a life by design rather than default. In this case, my friend and I listed all the reasons to be grateful for the job: it is a source of steady income in a time of global uncertainty; it pays her basic bills, giving her peace of mind; it is funding her while she figures out, researches, and plans out what she really wants to do next. We came up with a new name for the job – it’s a “work-study” opportunity!! Just like going to college and getting work-study as financial aid – an opportunity to work to pay off a portion of the tuition – this job is helping her pay off the ‘tuition’ or learning curve of figuring out what’s next. A temporary work-study gig sounds so much more fun than having a never-ending job where you’re unhappy. It may sound silly to some, but just this small distinction in perception and meaning can go a long way in changing overall attitude.