I remember the exact moment I realised I was so unhappy at work, something was going to have to change – big time!
Like many people, I had the Sunday night blues: the “Oh my God, no, it’s work tomorrow” anxiety and sadness. Sunday night was a miserable few hours preparing a packed lunch, ironing a shirt, checking my bag was ready, writing to do lists, setting the alarm, etc. The weekend was over. Misery was about to begin again.
But I really knew something had to change when the Sunday night blues changed into the Friday night blues. It was a beautiful summer’s evening and I was in the garden, when suddenly it hit me. “Oh no, I’ve only got two days off and it will start again!” I had lost the weekend. This was intolerable.
And of course, back at the daily grind, your feelings and attitudes begin to be reflected in the work itself. You don’t “believe in the brand” anymore (my most hated corporate phrase ever): projects do not excite; everything turns to shade of grey, like the life had been sucked out. Things that once inspired now seemed ridiculous.
And all this was after 20-years-plus of enjoying my career. I realised that I was not going to make it through the next 20. Probably not through the next 10…
I needed a plan. A new beginning.
Firstly, I went to see a life coach and he tried to help me come to terms with the situation – new strategies to engage with the work, my colleagues and my bosses. Bless him, this was not the right way. It did however buy me some time.
I had to discover what I really wanted to do – and it to make it future proof. I was not getting younger, after all. This was a classic mid-life crisis.
How I got out of the fog was like this:
Little by little I made a list of what I wanted – and what I did not want! What I liked and what I hated. I realised that I responded well to being in a local community. I liked working face to face with people. I wanted to make a difference.
You, of course, will have a different list…
Then I tried out my ideas on people I trusted. Some thought I was crazy. I even lost a friend. “But you are throwing it all away!” she said as she continued to tell me all the negatives of my plan, over and over. I would leave seeing her, feeling low and depressed.
But by listening to myself and those I trusted, I gradually put together a plan. It would involve retraining at a college and volunteering, so I could get a taste of what the new path might be like. And, dear readers, I did it. I went to college, part-time, got the qualifications, applied for jobs here and there, just to get the experience and finally found a job I loved.
My income was just enough to live on, but I was happy.
And at the weekends? What a change. On Friday nights I would be counting down the hours so I could start work again.
Life is too short to be in a job you hate. Make an escape plan. Test it. Check it. Do it.