It’s 5 a.m. You force yourself out of bed and into a new – cold, dark, dreary – day. Because you should. Because you have bills to pay. A lifestyle to maintain. Because you want your kids to live in a safe neighbourhood and go to a good school. Because you need to make a living to live. Everyone does.
On the other hand, you know you want a change. Perhaps a big one – to become an entrepreneur, or maybe work in international development. Or perhaps just a small change – to work flexibly in your current role, or take part in an interesting project that’s not normally part of your responsibilities. You know that you can tolerate, and find moments of enjoyment in, your job today. And you can do it again tomorrow and the next day. But sooner or later, something will have to change.
But what does that change look like?
I’m a big advocate for purposeful change, large and small. Before taking action, though, it must be clear what you’re looking to achieve. To help attain this clarity, I recommend taking 30 minutes, in one sitting, to write down your responses to the following questions:
- What needs do I have that aren’t being met in my current role?
We are often aware of some of these, as they drive our discontent. These are indicators of what is important to us. Some are your own values; some are universal human needs. Consider some less obvious ones that you may not often acknowledge. Think in terms of 3 levels:
- Individual needs like impact, challenge, learning, luxury, achievement, utilisation of specific strengths, status, and more
- Structural needs like flexibility of schedule, length of work hours, vertical/horizontal/diagonal communication channels, and more
- Cultural needs like positivity, respect, ownership of duties, independence, empathy, collaboration, and more
- What needs do I have that are being met in my current role?
The last thing you want is to throw out the baby with the bath water. These needs are often less obvious – until they are no longer met. If you feel stuck, use these 2 strategies:
- Think of when you feel happy and in ‘flow’. What’s happening?
- Consider other situations where you’ve felt discontent for reasons other than those listed in #1, and identify the underlying needs.
- What are some creative and specific ways to meet my needs where I am now?
Think holistically. You’re not committing to anything at this point, so channel your most resourceful thinking and do some brainstorming. How can you alter your environment? Your relationships? Your attitude and beliefs? Your hobbies? In what other areas of your life, outside of your career, can these needs be met?
- In what other role(s) and sector(s) could my needs be met?
Again, you aren’t committing to anything, so write down anything that comes up – it’s all valid and holds good information. Want to be an astronaut, a heart surgeon, and a cabaret dancer? No problem. This brings us to our final step – taking action.
- What are you going to do today to:
- Meet as your most pressing needs where you are now?
Use the information from #3 to choose what you will do to get what you need now. Be compassionate with yourself. And be brave. You have someone depending on you – you.
- Get exposed to other interests or careers you may want to pursue?
Use the information from #4 to choose the direction(s) in which you’ll begin your exploration. The grass can look greener on the other side, but rather than fearing that it’s withered and brown, you’re going to take a look for yourself. Get creative. Join a dance class. Connect with someone on LinkedIn in another industry and quiz them over coffee. Search YouTube for a specific ‘how-to’ video.
Enjoy the process of having your needs met. They are valid, and they will always continue to remind you if they are not being met. No one else will pursue their – your – satiety; it is up to you. Have fun with your exploration. Allow it to continue to inform your ever-present choice to stay on your current path, or to make your way to another. And tomorrow, when 5 a.m. rolls around, know that you have your zero-gravity dance class to look forward to.
Still stuck, with no opportunities to explore, or too many? Do you know what you want but are stopped by fear of the unknown? Do you need support to make a big transition? Email Nicole at email@example.com for a no-obligation, free 30 min chemistry session to see if coaching is right for you.