One of the most hip things to talk about nowadays is how fulfillment only comes once you completely leave the “prison” of your current life behind (usually by quitting your job). People post about it on Instagram, podcast guests wax poetically about how “taking the leap” was the easiest decision they ever made, and countless think-pieces read like diary entries of people who “find themselves” in the ashes of the bridges they burn on their way out the door.
I don’t buy it.
The truth is, nothing comes overnight and it hardly ever comes with one big step. Unless you’re born into extraordinary wealth, win the lottery, or stumble across a bag full of hundred dollar bills, it is extremely unlikely that you can wake up one day and throw your responsibilities to the side.
A better conversation is about the process that goes into the leap–the number of times someone ran up to the ledge before backing away slowly and psyching themselves up try to again. A more responsible conversation is about the ways you can enhance what you already have going on so that you can move closer towards alignment. A more realistic conversation is how to bounce back when your first attempt doesn’t work, because unfortunately, it most likely won’t. A more honest conversation is about the doubt, patience, research, and planning that goes into the end product.
Not happy with the job you have? What about it makes you unhappy? Can you incorporate things that bring you joy to the role? Can you devote time you’re not at work to your passions? If nothing can be changed about where you are, what can you do to change the circumstances you’re in?
Yes, being tied to things out of your control sucks. A lot.
I know the imbalance that occurs when it feels like you’re living out someone else’s mission, but let’s be real here–not everyone can up and quit the stability of a job to pursue their dreams at the snap of their fingers. It’s just not real life. There are bills to pay. A roof to keep over your head. Food to put on the table. People who depend on you. And sometimes, what you have going on isn’t even that bad, it’s just not enough. To risk it all on a whim because it’s not exactly what you envisioned isn’t always practical–or possible–and anyone who tells you otherwise is short-sighted at best and dangerous at worst.
The next time someone tries to tell you that you have to take extreme actions and risks in order to be happy, please know that that’s a lie. It’s a myth that leads to people feeling as though there are only two options: sacrifice everything or have nothing. It’s absolutely not fair and it creates a world where people go through the motions and feel as though they’re doing things wrong if they’re not happy or content every single moment of every single day.
It’s okay to take things slow and bide your time. Selective action is not the same as inaction. Deliberate consideration is not the opposite of courage. In fact, being methodical and patient is possibly the boldest and wisest thing you can do.
Consider your endgame, i.e., the thing that you want to have, do, see, or be when it’s all said and done. Logistically, what would it take to make this happen? What small changes can you make right now to tide you over as the larger pieces come together?
It takes dedication and time to create the life you want, but it’s so much better than the alternative which is feeling as though you have no options or that the way you’re going about it is wrong.
Be selective. Be deliberate. Be bold. Be wise.
And for goodness sake, don’t buy into the hype.