As a personal development coach, I have spoken to hundreds of people who are bored, paralyzed or victimized by aspects of their lives: job, career, relationship, health issues, etc. They say they hate the situation but drag themselves through it day after day, which quickly becomes year after year. Sound familiar?
Ask them why and you’ll get the usual assortment of “I don’t have the time;” or, “I need the paycheck;” or, “I don’t know what else to do.” I have been in similar spots and I can tell you that you can take small steps to move yourself forward. It is not difficult but it does take focus and commitment. Are you up for it?
There are three steps that you can start, right now, without making any major changes to your schedule. These steps will give you clues on how you can plan for your grand escape from whatever is keeping you stuck.
- What makes you unique?
You have a distinctive combination of talents, skills, tendencies and habits. Add in your education and experience and no one else has this unique formula. It is not enough to just know this. You need to describe how you are different from all the other humans around you.
Use assessments like Myers Briggs, Strengths Finders 2.0, VIA, Kolbe, to grabs words and phrases that describe you . Ask people you know what makes you unique from other people they know. Hire a coach or have a friend help you pull out the themes in your life. Devise a concise “elevator pitch” or “personal brand statement” about what you offer that is one of a kind. Then find how to offer it to your company, family, or your community.
I remember interviewing for my first “real job” as college graduate. I was petrified and the interviewer was a cranky, seasoned IBM sales executive. He also had a huge cigar hanging from his mouth, so you can guess how long ago this was. He flicked his cigar ashes in a big ashtray, pointed the foul thing at me and barked, “Why should I hire YOU?”
I decided deep down that this man was not going to intimidate me so I told him that they had no one with the combination of skills, talent and education that I had. Then I gave him an example of what I meant, using feedback from one of my college mentors. I had no idea that was the winning answer, but I never forgot it. Know what makes you stand out from the crowd.
- What do you value?
If you are unclear what you value, you are being directed by someone else’s values. And I can bet that their values are not aligned with yours. If you were aligned with them, you wouldn’t feel this “stuckness” or discomfort with your situation,
For example, if you value creativity and innovation, working for a company that is a relic of the industrial age is not going to satisfy you. If you have a huge heart for saving the environment, make sure your company is making efforts to align with that vision, otherwise, you will be miserable. If you want friends who support you instead of talking about themselves constantly, look for people who are interested in what matters to you.
I had a client who was committed to being authentic. She landed a plum corporate job that seemed to be her dream come true. Once the rose colored glasses came off though, she discovered that two C-suite executives had been having an affair for the last eight years. They were both married to other people and gave off the “nobody knows or cares” persona during all the corporate meetings, not knowing that it was no secret. My client was mortified and took steps to get herself out of that craziness before she compromised her own values.
It is key to know what you value as a human being and be with people, companies, and communities that reflect those values. If anyone behaves in a way you cannot tolerate and you turn the other way, you will eventually absorb those behaviors and be miserable. Do not ignore what you value.
- What energizes you (past and present)?
Chart out your life experiences, good and bad, on a time line. X axis is time and Y-axis is your energy (“happiness/joy/bliss”) level, using a scale from -10 to 10. Where have you had fun; when were you happily in the flow of things and time stood still? What was it about that situation, person, activity, environment that made it so engaging for you?
Take time with this. I keep my “Journey Line” on my office wall (I still love me some flip chart paper and scented markers!) I add to it when I recall something new that I loved/disliked. Get detailed and dig into your high and low points. What are the common themes running through your life?
By knowing what energizes and excites (and what drains/demotivates) you, you can begin to look for them, even if you remain in your current situation. Small changes can make big shifts in your mindset so don’t discount any minuscule shifts you can take.
For example, I once worked for an organization that was not aligned with my skills or values. But, I was able to pay my bills and accommodate my caregiving duties by having this very mundane job. I knew I would not be there long. For me, I know I am energized when I am learning. Hence, I began to schedule more client time to understand what my clients did and how it contributed to the organization. I also scheduled lunchtime webinars on topics that were of interest to me. I was then content to ride out that dull job and meet my caregiving and financial needs.
Remember that each day you decide to accept your current situation. You have your reasons. Perhaps those reasons as still valid or maybe they have changed. Either way, if you are not happy with your life, work through these three steps as a guide. I guarantee you will not look at yourself or what you can bring to the world in a paralyzed way again.
CALL TO ACTION: If you would like help in getting unstuck, schedule your complimentary 30-min “Breakthrough Session” here: https://karendarrin.acuityscheduling.com/ Sign up for more Tips & Tools: Karen Darrin Blog and receive my free gift, “Your Inner Critic Worksheet.”