I used to think I had it together. I had a good job that gave me opportunities to learn, to lead others, and to make a difference for the company. It looked good on the outside, but something wasn’t right. You know that feeling when everything seems to be going well but still doesn’t feel right, and you can’t put your finger on it? Are you working hard but aren’t sure that the work you do is meaningful? Do you feel like you could do more, be better, work smarter, but aren’t sure how you get from here to there?
I had all of these questions running through my mind, and I got stuck in the loop of trying to change the wrong things. And when I considered that I might be in the wrong job it brought massive resistance of my own making. I had gotten here without much of a plan. I just worked hard and let my career path happen instead of creating my path. I took it as a point of pride that I had become this successful without a plan. (And it makes me cringe just writing that!) I didn’t think I had the right education, experience, presence, ability, or personality for anything different. And I was too busy surviving the day to put much thought into it.
What I Wish I Knew Then
Eventually, I found my way here, and it’s the best place I can imagine being. It wasn’t always easy and still isn’t, but it’s the type of hard work that feels right because it’s the meaningful work I have chosen to do. I learned so much along the way that would have served me well back then, but maybe these things can help you now.
I wish I knew about the small changes I could have made to reduce my daily stress and improve my productivity.
I wish I had re-directed some of my learning to myself instead of to the technical aspects of my job.
I wish I had asked for help sooner and started working with a coach before I became desperate for answers.
I wish I had believed in myself enough to take charge of my life sooner.
I wish I had known that I was not the only one who felt this way.
What’s Your “Maybe Someday” Idea?
I know you’ve thought about what else might be possible in your career and your life. Even when things are good these thoughts of “what else” can enter your mind. You can be both grateful for what you have AND want more. In fact, I think that combination is the best combination for living a full life. If we weren’t always seeking to change, to improve, to be more, we wouldn’t experience all the fantastic advances we humans have created.
Maybe you’re thinking about small changes like not having to do email at home, or not feeling anxious on Sunday night as the work week heads your way. Maybe you’re thinking big and want to take your career to the next level or change jobs entirely. Or maybe a change has been forced on you, and you’re struggling to figure out what’s next. We all think about what could be, but we aren’t always prepared to do something about it. I know I wasn’t.
I stayed in my job and tried to make the best of it. I thought if I pushed harder I could fix it. My new motto was “go big or go home.” So, I went big for a few months and tried to redefine my work. And then I went home, for good.
I had no idea I would end up here, and I don’t necessarily recommend the path I took, but I also don’t regret it for one minute. You don’t have to adopt my “go big or go home” strategy or take a big scary leap and just quit your job to make things better (though, if you are considering this, we should talk!).
If I had known then what I know now, I probably would have made it here a little sooner. Or, at the very least, I could have reduced some of the pain and anxiety I experienced in the last year of my job. And yet, if I had known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have experienced the real struggle of re-defining a career. I wouldn’t know how best to help my clients tackle each obstacle to change. I wouldn’t have these stories and ideas to share with all of you and help you reduce your own pains. And I wouldn’t have the stumbles and falls that have made me stronger.
I know how hard it is to imagine doing anything new when your days are jam-packed with things to do. That was me for far too long. But if you want more out of life you must to do something different. Nothing good comes from sitting in your comfort zone or putting off change until tomorrow. The only perfect time to start is right now.
One Small Step is All it Takes
You don’t have to make crazy big changes or have the perfect plan. You just have to want to make things better and commit to small steps. A small change can be just as impactful and meaningful as the big ones, if not more. The most important thing is to take action.
So, go read some more blog posts, listen to an inspiring podcast, test out a new time management tip, or just do something that fuels your soul. Just take one step in a new direction. The first step is a doozy, but then you’ll take another, and another, and pretty soon you’ll find yourself walking along a new path, and this time it’ll be the one you chose.
I’d love to hear about your first steps so share them in the comments below along with any other thoughts you have on this topic. Here’s to you and your amazing small steps!