Note: This post originally appeared on my blog at lifecoachvikki.com
Before I became a life coach, I spent almost 20 years in recruiting, staffing and training
I did a ton of different things in my career at that time – different types of recruiting, different companies, etc. And sometimes, I really enjoyed it. But much of it, I did not.
Toward the end of that career, I dreamt a lot about the days when I wouldn’t “have” to do it anymore. Don’t get me wrong – I was grateful to have such a great career. I worked from home, I had some very good bosses, and worked for great companies with great perks. I knew I was truly lucky to have such sweet gigs.
But toward the end, it still felt like it was completely soul-sucking. And I am not alone in feeling that way. Estimates are that 70-80% of us hate our jobs. (Hate is a strong word, but in some cases it’s accurate!)
Back in the days when I still worked in an office, I regularly had people in my office telling me that while their day job was “ok” they felt like something was missing.
Frequently, they said “If I knew WHAT I wanted to do, and I could keep the same standard of living, I’d do it.” But the really heartbreaking ones were the people who knew what they’d rather be doing but were just too afraid to go do it because of all their responsibilities (mortgage, kids, spouse, dog, etc). They would show up in my office, with the pain of their lives of quiet desperation etched on their faces and would pour their hearts out to me.
With so many people coming to me saying the same things, I noticed a trend: many people are doing jobs that just don’t light them up – they are not fulfilled and worse, they feel trapped!
And because they are not fulfilled and so much of our time is spent at work, people do all sorts of things to feel better. To self-medicate their misery they eat too much, drink too much, buy more stuff, or take expensive vacations – all in an attempt to get over the misery of where and how they spend most of their waking hours. Somehow they think that the bigger house, the flat screen t.v., the new ipad is all going to make it “worth it” for trading their one precious life for a paycheck. I, too, have been guilty of this. I know the misery of which I speak.
And when we do that, when we spend the paycheck on stuff to help us feel better, we perpetuate the problem. We stay on the hamster wheel – running and running and getting nowhere. We end up with huge credit card debt, big fat mortgages, and seemingly, no way out. So we keep doing the job we hate because it allows us to pay the bills we’ve racked up trying to make ourselves feel better. Spinning, spinning, spinning.
There is a documentary called “I’m Fine Thanks,” that really highlights the issue (you can find it online here http://imfinethanksmovie.com/ if you want to know more.) My favorite line from that film is this, “I gave up MY dream to pursue the American dream.” Wow. Powerful. Sad. But true for so many of us.
We followed the rules, right? We went to college, got married, had some kids, bought the house and yet we still feel empty inside. We look around at all the stuff we’ve accumulated as a reward for “being responsible” and none of it makes us feel any better on Monday morning when we are facing returning to the land of soul suckers.
If you’re one of the minority that truly loves your work and feels fulfilled by what you do, congratulations. I hope you appreciate your rare and fortunate situation. And I salute you.
But what if, you’re one of those who feels totally unfulfilled in your daily work? What if your job feels soul sucking and you can’t even remember how to spell passion let alone live it? Is it a life sentence? Do you just keep self-medicating until you finally get to retire (if you’re lucky) or die (if you’re not so lucky)?
For me, I did a lot of hoping and praying and buying lottery tickets over the last several years of my corporate life. Then when I still hadn’t won the lottery, and the 90-year-old-billionaire-who-couldn’t-live-without-me never appeared on my doorstep begging me to marry him, I had to start doing the really hard work of trying to figure out what would make me happy and how I wanted to spend my days and create a strategy to get there.
I knew that life coaching was my calling. I FELT it. And while I didn’t have millions of bucks to tide me over, or an easy way out, I finally couldn’t deny it anymore and I made the decision to take the risky leap and leave my corporate life behind and pursue my passion of coaching.
I did not come here to this planet to live a life of quiet desperation and neither did you!
You have gifts and purposes (yes, plural!) and talents to share with the world. Your only mission in this life is to share FULLY who you are and all you have to offer with the rest of us on this crazy ride.
If you are not using the gifts and talents and purposes you came with, you’re cheating all the rest of us out of experiencing that goodness that only you can give to the world!!
It’s time we all stopped letting the squeak of the hamster wheel hypnotize us into thinking that this is all there is and that we are forever trapped in this cage.
Today, I view my corporate day jobs as wonderful gifts that helped me pay my bills until I knew what I truly wanted and until I finally mustered up the courage to pursue those dreams.
My one and only regret was that I stayed on that hamster wheel, running, running and running until it took a toll on my health. I wish I would have hopped off sooner.
And now that I am off and doing this work I love so much, I just want to tell you, no – beg you! Please, do whatever it is you have to do to pursue the things you love.