Work is a big part of our lives. Sometimes it’s just a job – maybe a good job or a not-so-good job. However, sometimes you want your work to be more than a job. You’ve reached a point in your life where you want your work to be an expression of your soul’s purpose or your passion or you want to make a contribution in a way that’s meaningful and fulfilling to you.
If you’re currently in a J-O-B and it’s time to move to a deeper level, you’ve got some big changes on the horizon. I speak to many people who are standing on that cliff looking across the chasm to where they want to go but they just can’t get themselves to make that leap.
First of all, if you’re standing on the cliff looking across the chasm and can envision your destination, congratulate yourself. You’re further along your journey than many people who want to find work with a deeper meaning, but the other side is shrouded in fog.
So what’s stopping you from making that leap? Your heart is saying go, go, go! But something else is saying no, no, no.
Here are three things that may have turned your current job and career path into a cage.
Your ego. Does your sense of your own worth come from what you do for a living? There are a lot of ways this manifests. Perhaps you’ve worked your butt off over the years and climbed the ladder to a management or senior management position. You’re proud of your accomplishments, and you like the fact that you have a title that earns you respect. In fact, you like it more than you actually like your job. When you step onto a different ladder, you’ll probably have to start at a lower level or perhaps you’re going to start up your own company where you’ll be doing every menial thing at first. Either way, if you can’t stand the idea of giving up your title and position of authority, you’re trapped.
Money, money money. You make great money – more than enough to pay your basic living expenses. This enables you to live a lifestyle filled with perks and yummy extras. In addition to that lifestyle, the amount of money you make is a tangible way to count your worth. This is often a non-negotiable base requirement for any change – you must be guaranteed to make the same amount of money or you’re not moving no matter how miserable you are. But life doesn’t come with guarantees, so you’re trapped again.
Fear. Change is scary, the unknown is scary, risk is scary. All of the media hype about the tight job market, the unemployment rate, and the stories about the struggles of the long-term unemployed just reinforce how risky it is to even think about making a change even within your same industry. The idea of striking out in a different direction is absolutely terrifying! What if you make a mistake, or what if the learning curve is really high on that new career path. It’s safer just to stay put and hope that someone finds you or some opportunity falls in your lap while you’re dreaming of unicorns.
After a number of years another fear takes hold when you realize you’ve wasted the best years of your life in a job you didn’t like just because you were too proud, too greedy or too timid to take a chance.
There’s a great quote: Change will come when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change. I’m amazed at the amount of emotional people will endure, and it’s almost never worth it.
Regardless of whether you want to change jobs at this time or not, assess whether your job is a J-O-B vs something deeper and ask yourself whether that’s OK. If it’s not OK, take a look at whether any of the traps might be holding you back. Awareness is the first step towards a change. Then you can let the genie out of the bottle and dare to envision what you’d really like to be doing.
Here’s another quote to set you on that path: Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. (Anais Nin)