This post will probably be of most interest to two primary readers. The first group would be those people who know that there is something lacking in their current occupation or if unemployed, know they want to do something different from what they’ve done up until now.
If this describes you, you’ll be having feelings of inadequacy, a lack of challenge and fulfillment, a need or hunger to do something else, and maybe you’re even voicing it such as in, “Is this all there is? There’s got to be more”. Your favourite books might be those like, The Hobbit where some main figure goes on a quest, or the heroine goes on a journey only to discover the truths that lie within like in The Wizard of Oz.
While it might sound smug and trite, when things aren’t going right…..go left. No explore this seriously for a moment before dismissing it. Left field is usually referred to as the place odd ideas come from. Career-wise, it just means that if what you’ve been doing up until this juncture in your life no longer brings you satisfaction, it’s time to consider a departure from that same field or occupation. You’re in need of a change, and if you proceed making the same choices to pursue jobs similar to ones from your past, things are more or less going to remain the same.
The good news is what you are experiencing has been already experienced by countless others and you’re not uniquely unhappy or unchallenged. The bad news is that relatively speaking, most people who are faced with this desire for change don’t actually make choices to do things differently. After all, it’s safer to take the predictable road and do what you’re capable of and keep those around you happy. So you do the same things to pay the mortgage, pay off your debt, and “make a living”. Your mom and dad are so proud of your success, your friends see you as right on track and dependable, but inside, there’s this anxiety building because you’re working to suppress a growing feeling of discontent.
Heading off in some new direction to explore something new and different requires courage. Maybe it will mean returning to school to get an education in a different line of work, bringing on substantial debt in the process. And those around you might wonder about how existing bills will get paid let alone the cost of an education. Or, if travel is involved, those closest to you now might not want you to ‘wander off’ as they see it, but isn’t that more of them wanting you to stay near for their own benefit instead of reaching out to whatever is calling you?
Parents especially get troubled when their adult children pull a major left turn in life. The reason is quite simple really, as they are expressing their own anxiety at something beyond their control that affects them. Bluntly put, each parent generally wants to see their child as happy and successful during their own time on the planet. If your life appears in flux, some of that unsettled feeling is taken on by them too, and they won’t feel better until you, “come to your senses” and settle back in to a routine they approve of. You might as well meet a nice young man, buy a practical home and have two lovely grandchildren while you’re at it!
Look, you’ve only got this one life. At some point, you’re going to look back, (we all do, and you yourself have already probably looked back on your younger years) and when you do gaze over your shoulder, you’re not going to want to see regret over choices not made. Playing it safe would be excellent advice if in fact it kept you happy and fulfilled. Apparently however, something inside is whispering that there is something else you need to explore. This voice can be louder and may be screaming rather than whispering but it’s there in one form or another.
Here’s your difficulty: the longer you hold on to conformity and doing the ‘right’ thing, the harder it will become to move in that other direction. And even when you’ve made the decision to change things up and move in another direction, how do you know the new direction you are contemplating will guarantee success and happiness? Oh I’m sorry, were you expecting a guarantee? Life doesn’t come with those. However, you will feel exhilaration and a release the moment you give yourself permission to go left instead of right.
If going left means a return to school, look up the University or College degree or diploma you want and research the requirements and deadlines for application. You can do at least that much while still hanging on to your present job or career. If an entirely new country is calling or a whole new line of work is required that you have all the transferable skills for, you could take the steps to talk to someone already there doing what you want to do in order to get feedback. LinkedIn for one puts you in contact with people around the globe you could access and speak to in discussion groups or privately.
A leap of faith to go left and take a chance wont’ make sense to those who’d rather you play it safe and do the right thing. But keep in mind, the level of disbelief from others who would rather you didn’t may be just mirroring the level of disappointment and bitterness that they themselves feel when they stood where you stand now and made the decision to play life safe and silence that inner pull to turn left.