Do you feel stressed out at all right now about your work?
We have all experienced some level of stress in our careers. It’s caused by a variety of things like misunderstandings with co-workers, feelings of failure or our inability to fit in with the corporate culture.
Sometimes a quick conversation can easily solve the problem or requires more drastic action like quitting your job.
I want to make you aware of a more debilitating and chronic form of stress I believe is going to affect more and more of us because of our dynamically changing economy.
It once held me in its gripes for a very long time. It will leave you feeling paralyzed, anxious and even doubtful about your path in life.
Your thoughts will taunt you over and over again with the question “Is there more to life than this?”
This is the stress of feeling “stuck”. (I was once stuck for 5 years in my career, not a fun feeling!) You are feeling the tension between the path behind you and the one before you.
You know the path behind you is no longer an option, but you don’t know how to move forward because the path before you isn’t clear.
You feel stuck.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you are going to experience a lot of stress whether you choose to stay stuck or choose to get unstuck.
One path offers a lifetime of (negative) stress. The other offers a couple of years of (positive) stress.
Time to pick your poison. Stress out on your terms.
Why Do You Feel Stressed?
First, most likely you are starting to become more aware of your feelings for the work you really want to do in life or at least a desire for more meaningful work.
You’re experiencing stress because you have been ignoring or repressing those feelings in favor of doing the work you think you are “suppose to do”. You are making other people happy at the expense of your own happiness.
You feel stuck because the more you try to avoid those feelings, the more stress you feel.
Second, you are also out of alignment with your purpose and how you like to work.
You were taught to conform to someone else’s work standard without ever exploring your own needs for productivity. Years of working against the grain of your work style has left you fatigued.
Finally, most of us were never taught to fend for ourselves and to become self-reliant.
We don’t possess the skills for working on our own terms. We were taught to work on someone else’s terms.
We were taught to apply for jobs, not to create them on our own.
The web, social media, mobile apps, automation, crowdsourcing and outsourcing have turned our work paradigm upside down.
We have trouble realizing or even understanding the new possibilities for how to work in new and alternative ways. We can choose to explore these new possibilities and our feelings deep inside of us or choose to ignore them in favor of what is familiar.
#1 Option: A Lifetime of Stress
It’s hard for me to believe and sometimes even accept that most people choose a lifetime of stress. Why?
They are afraid of change. Our brain doesn’t like uncertainty.
People will use even more energy to stay on a familiar path even if they know it’s the source of their stress. The more they refuse to acknowledge their feelings deep inside of them, the more stressed out they become.
As they lose more and more control over their lives, they hold onto everything they know more tightly. Their muscles become tenser. They have more sleepless nights.
This can last for years, if not for the rest of their lives.
They believe the stress of exploring new possibilities and potentially redesigning their lifestyle around the work they’ve always wanted to do is more stressful than maintaining the status quo.
Little do they know that “negative” stress is actually eating away at them, instead of making them grow.
They are denying who they really are.
#2 Option: A Couple of Years of Stress
From my experience, it takes one to two years to design your ideal lifestyle around more meaningful work.
Believe it or not, that’s enough to turn most people away from this challenge. They opt to chose “familiar” stress for the rest of their days.
We all love immediate gratification. We want the quick fix, but that’s not how lifestyle design works.
It’s hard because you are changing your identity. It takes so much time because there is so much to learn about yourself.
The more you know about yourself, the better you are going to be able to work for yourself. You also need to mentally and financially prepare yourself for making such a dramatic change in your life.
Making the decision to design your ideal lifestyle is indeed stressful, but it’s “positive” stress because you are going to grow as a person.
Lifestyle design energizes you, instead of draining you. It empowers you.
Once you get through the initial phase, you’ll have a system of work that you built on your terms. You can now work in alignment with your purpose and work needs. It’s yours for the rest of your life.
You will be more flexible and adaptable to the changing needs of the economy. You’ll be able to spot new opportunities in a way you were never able to do as an employee.
The best part? You’ll be liberated from the chronic stress of feeling stuck!
You’ll also possess new skills to see the warning signs of stress more quickly and be able to cope with them more productively.
You’ll finally be working on your terms.
It’s Your Choice
I’m hoping if you’ve read this far, you might give option #2 a shot. (If you go, here are some resources to get you started.)
I’ve laid out two very clear choices for you. Your stress is no longer something to complain about. You can do something about it.
Either choose the illusion of certainty your current path provides and be chronically stressed out for the rest of your life or explore a new path of possibilities and feel stressed out because you are growing as a person.
Complain about your stress or see it as a source of possibilities.
The choice it yours.