Today is Valentine’s Day; the year 2017. Around the globe, countless numbers of items will be bought and given as gifts; expressions of the love someone feels for another. There’ll be cards of course; chocolates, flowers, plants, maybe even diamonds and pearls if you’re fortunate and desire them.
While the focus for the day will be on the one who holds your heart; has it ever occurred to you to pause on this day and review the love you have for the work you do? I rather doubt it. If you imagine your job or career as a physical entity, would you be writing words of love and passion or would you be acutely aware that the thrill has gone? Instead of toasting your job with a raised glass you’re looking at a bologna sandwich in your cubicle for the 5th time this month.
How long has it been since you sprang out of the house with a bounce in your step at the thought of heading on into the workplace? A sadder question for some is whether you’ve ever had that joy of anticipating what joys your day will bring? If you’re happy, really love the work you do, you my friend are fortunate. You’ve found a measure of success in that how you spend a large amount of your time has meaning for you; you’ve got purpose and satisfaction in abundance.
However, if you’ve come to the point where the job has simply become a daily chore; the work is far from fulfilling and it’s a daily grind or test of your mental endurance, you may be wondering where it all went wrong? That job you once loved, that work you found so satisfying; something changed.
What changed is probably not so much the job but rather you; the person performing the work. Maybe you mastered the skills and job requirements and nothing new has been added to stimulate your need for a challenge. Maybe you’ve changed so much yourself that just adding new challenges won’t do at all and you need a complete change of scenery, a different kind of work altogether. You’re just hanging in there; hanging on and holding on. This you’re afraid to acknowledge, is not how you envisioned your life. Worse still, you always believed you’d have the courage to make some changes if it ever got to this point…but you haven’t.
It’s as if there is a set of scales before you and on the one side you see the job with all its responsibilities and duties. Here’s your security, salary, benefits, seniority, vacation entitlement. On the other side you only see a single thing: happiness. If only happiness were on the other side along with all those other items life would be perfect. Try as you might though, you can’t move happiness over without tipping the scales and throwing off the balance.
So you stand in a state of flux; wanting happiness of course, but paralyzed at the dilemma of risking everything on the one side to seize upon your happiness. The longer you do nothing, the worse you feel because you live in the conscious knowledge that you are unfulfilled and fulfillment is becoming increasingly important t you. Fulfillment you assert, will bring you happiness.
You are faced with this choice; you must either find happiness in the work you currently do, or you must find happiness elsewhere in some new activity. Going on day after day without making a change of some sort is not going to result in anything different and to expect you’ll rediscover or ignite some happiness on a long-term basis without action isn’t realistic.
Of course if you have the ability to stay in an organization but assume new challenges, you owe it to yourself to do whatever is necessary to bring about that change. Talk with the boss, maybe HR, meet with Supervisors in other departments and put out some feelers.
Ah but if there are no options such as those above, you may have to cut loose your ties, free yourself from the trap of the status quo and take that leap of faith by pursuing happiness somewhere else. Your friends, family and current co-workers might not understand it, they will definitely question it, but they might secretly envy you for it too. They might see it as your mid-life crisis but for you its saving yourself; this one chance to finally take a risk and live!
It could mean a return to school to re-educate or update your skills and knowledge. You’ll burn with a love for learning though. It might mean a whole new career doing something others see as a step down but isn’t that their issue not yours? If you know or feel confident you know what will make you truly happy, staying where you will only eventually have you disappointed in yourself. You may grow despondent, become bitter and resent the choice you failed to make. Following conventional wisdom may be safe but safety has its limitations.
So on this Valentines Day, look around the workplace and give a thought to the work you do. Love it? Feel fulfilled and happy for the most part? Excellent! If you don’t feel passion for the work however, if the lustre is gone and the fire that once fueled you on a daily basis, it might be time to make some changes.