Low recognition, lack of engagement, high pressure work environments: according to the 2018 Manpower Study in Germany, half of all employees are unhappy with their work and on the lookout for a new job. But will a job change give you the satisfaction that you’re looking for? Often, after a couple of months at a new job, old desires reemerge, work starts feeling like a rut, colleagues and bosses irritate you and the unhappy cycle starts again. With a job change, you often only exchange one hamster wheel for another.
The common saying “just follow your passion” doesn’t quite cut it either. Passion alone won’t necessarily generate the desired income. Or once it does, it might suddenly not feel so fun anymore. If your escape from the rut is going to last, you have to start with an honest evaluation of your intentions. Uncover the true reasons and the unrealized potential at the core of your unhappiness, and translate them into tangible, realistic life goals.
But how, and what for? Set yourself positive objectives, which excite you and motivate you to release unsupportive habits and replace them with supportive ones; positive objectives, which protect you from mindlessly quitting your old job and stumbling into another one that you’ll hate as well after two years. How can you avoid falling into the same trap or to simply keep fighting the symptoms? Find out what you really want. This is easier said than done, for sure – do you know, what you want?
Why is it so important to get out of a rut? After all, it provided for you, it supported you, maybe it even entertained you – up until now. Despite your dissatisfaction, you were in your comfort zone. Why is it still important for you to make a change? What are your goals in life? What do you want to achieve?
Of course there’s the immediate goal to get out of an unpleasant or stressful (work) situation. You know exactly what you don’t want anymore. However, this is not a goal that you can work towards. This is only your reason for your desire for change.
Finding your true objectives is all about identifying a long-term and sustainable perspective – for your future. It’s about finding out what you want to achieve, how you want to feel, what you want to experience and what you want to do. Not so easy, right? Your goals should be long term, not a temporary solution. They should be aligned to your values. It’s about more than temporarily recovering from stress – this is about finding your own identity.
Let’s try out this exercise. I recommend grabbing a pen and paper or your computer so you can write down your ideas.
Project yourself a couple of decades into the future and imagine yourself at 80 or 90 years of age (or whatever high age you can imagine for yourself.) You’re at your favorite spot and look back on your life with a great deal of satisfaction. You did not miss out on anything, you lived your life according to your own values and wishes, and you’ve escaped your rut. You’re reaping the fruits of your labors.
Are you ready? Now describe how you feel.
How do you feel at this time of your life review? Where are you and with whom? What do you see and hear? List everything that contributes to your satisfaction, the more specific the better. “I feel fine” doesn’t count; “I’m sitting on my terrace, my dog’s at my feet, and I’m sipping on my favorite red wine” – that’s heading in the right direction.
From this perspective, ask yourself:
Did you write down your answers? Great, come back into reality and your younger, current self.
Read what you’ve written. What is important for you, what are some keywords that stand out? Can you find a connecting theme amongst your answers? Are there certain values that you mention repeatedly?
This is how you get a sense of your WHY, which will help you set your direction and determine which goals are most important for you at this stage.
If you’re aware of your Why, you can get into action and develop a strategy that brings you closer to your life goals.
Share in the comments below how your Why can motivate you to take action. Perhaps you have ideas to help other people get out of their rut?