“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most adaptable to change” – Charles Darwin
It is not infrequently that I meet a client who expresses their unhappiness with their job in the overall or the work that they are responsible for doing day to day. And although they readily admit their unhappiness, when I inquire as to why they don’t make a change that they will find more fulfilling and satisfying I hear many excuses like these:
- I’m not happy AND … I don’t know what else I’d do
- I don’t know that I have the skills to do what I’d really like to be doing
- I don’t think anyone would give me a chance to move into the work I enjoy
- I’m afraid to quit this job. I need the money and don’t have enough to carry me over
- Being unhappy here seems better than taking the risk of making a change
- I’m lacking the motivation and enthusiasm for making a change at the moment
What these tend to create is a comfort zone to stay where we are and eventually we find ourselves truly stuck. Not necessarily happy … simply stuck. The first step to do something about this is to acknowledge and admit this as our situation. True, it’s willingly taking ourselves into an uncomfortable place and at the same time it is a critical step to bringing about the change we want.
To the extent that we can admit that we are caught in a web resistant to make a change there are things that you we can do to confront it and move beyond. Some of these are below and perhaps giving yourself a litmus test to determine what, if anything, you have going on that might be holding you back from the movement your happiness and fulfillment is dependent upon.
- Truly embracing that change is inevitable all around us. Standing firm in a situation can truly become more and more challenging especially as the things we can’t control continue to change. To the extent that we really want something different requires that we not only accept that change happens … it actually gives us reason and license to actually create it.
- Accept the situation you’re in … do NOT become resigned to it. There’s a big difference here. Accepting the situation we’re in is just being factual and allows us to recognize our unhappiness and the desire to change it. Being resigned to it carries with it a sense of hopelessness and there is nothing positive in doing so. In fact, it furthers the feeling of stuck without options
- Be willing to intentionally take yourself out of your comfort zone. We know that change of any sort is not always comfortable. And yet we also know that to resist change is to accept our situation as it is regardless of how much we don’t like it. Thus, willingly embracing it is what takes us into an arena of discovery and exploration … and potentially greater happiness and satisfaction.
- Acknowledge and silence the inner voices that often work against changes that we really want. These voices … or our inside team … often do not like change … period. They tend to hijack the intentions that we have by instilling doubts as to the wisdom of making changes that we know we want to make. Without realizing it, they have suddenly redirected our thinking to one of complacency … even if it’s not our best path. To the extent we can recognize this happening we can reclaim control and make it easier to pursue the path that you really want to make.
- Be willing to make changes without the fear of failing. There are no guarantees that anything and everything we do or have ever done includes guaranteed success. Still we have pushed through the challenges because at the end is something we really want … something that will make us happy and feel fulfilled. Wouldn’t this apply to the work we do and the career we have?
- If you don’t make a change … what is the best outcome you can expect? How will limiting yourself by staying in the same situation (work in this case) affect your life … your income … your sense of accomplishment? When you determine this, how happy do you expect you will be?
- What are you waiting for? What makes putting off the desired change a value? What is going to make doing this ‘tomorrow’ easier or better in any way?
When I enter into a discussion with a client about this very topic, often they have never realized they were resisting taking the ‘change step’. Rather they had devised much rationale as to why they were doing what they did. I do believe that the challenge we all have is to catch ourselves staying in a circumstance that is not to our liking … just because in some ways it seems like the right thing to do … or our only real choice. In other words … we feel trapped. Does it seem like a good exercise would be to do a form of self-analysis as a means of determining if you are stuck in someplace that you really don’t want to be? Go on … take the dare!
Theodore Roosevelt said … “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” Obviously we would want to avoid this third option.