Was it hard to tell this Monday from any other Monday at work?
Can you remember the last time you felt triumphant at work?
Has it been more than three years since your last big professional growth spurt?
Your answers may reveal that you have been coasting. Sometimes we need to coast, like when we are going through big personal challenges. The impacts of these challenges can last a year or two (caring for an ailing elderly relative can take much longer). It can take us out of contention for professional growth and opportunity. There is only so long you can coast before ultimately running out of gas.
It may not be your fault; bad companies and bosses can kill your motivation and inhibit your desire to do more than a job requires.
Regardless, it is against our nature to stay stagnant too long and it can be detrimental to our mental, emotional, and physical health.
Ambition is something that we naturally generate. We can get into situations where we are re-trained to kill our own ambitions, and it can start at a very early age.
Pretty soon we are convincing ourselves that we are fine; the status quo is comfortable; change is unwanted and scary.
My friend since middle school ended a marriage she was unhappy in after she found evidence on Facebook that he was cheating. A couple years later she is very grateful for that evidence, because she may have stayed unhappy even longer without it. She is currently engaged to my brother’s friend, a man I have known since he was a boy. Who I know is making her happy, will make her happy, and will be the loyal and affectionate spouse she wanted her ex to be. She said, “You don’t know how unhappy you were until you are happy.”
I do my monthly Epic Career Tales podcast so that people can be inspired by the level of success and happiness that other people have achieved. I know it is not always good to compare yourself with other people, but if you aren’t getting back from a job what you put into it, then you already know that you’re not as happy as you could be. But how do you know how happy you could be unless you compare yourself to how happy other people are?
A lot of you reading this right now have an automatic thought coming through saying, “Yeah, but those people aren’t me. They are [enter any one of the following: smarter, luckier, more privileged, prettier, wealthier, not as busy, more educated, better connected, etc.]”
If you don’t, that is great for you, because you have few reasons not to take action and become happy.
However, if you recognize that thought, that is also great for you, because recognizing it is the first step in taking its power away.
This post is not meant to put you on a path to extreme change in your life so that you can have happiness. I realize that if you have this thought then you also perceive the effort of becoming happy as potentially futile.
You may want to take action, and I encourage it, but effort is something I want you to save until you have a clear vision of what you being happy in your job could look like.
Tony Robbins has said, “Activity without a high-level of purpose is the drain of your fortune.”
So many of my clients are hesitant to picture what it could look like to be happy because they think that it will lead to greater disappointment.
Tony Robbins has also said that our expectations of what our reality should look like can cause our misery.
I just want to leave you with one distinction that might help clear up what seems to be a contradiction.
Be mindful of how you define happiness. The change you think might be necessary in order to achieve this may not be anything external.
Instead of thinking in terms of what you get when better conditions exist, think about you and your current conditions. Picture yourself in the flow, knowing you are at your utmost best and not needing anyone else to notice or recognize you for it.
This is a baby step to get your head back in the game of your career. For now, do not worry about winning the game, and certainly do not think about the championship – just play.
If you can generate a sense of happiness even in unfavorable conditions, you can become unstoppable.