This is a common feeling for many adults.
Perhaps you left school frustrated with the strict rules and just needed to break free. Only to find yourself five or ten years later in a job that doesn't give you that sense of freedom?
Or maybe you did research, and trained in a subject you liked and enjoyed at high school but wound up in a particular job or industry that irritates and annoys you - or which you feel overwhelmed or depressed in.
Time is ticking by. You feel responsibilities mean you can't make the leap to the next things. But even if you did, how do you know what the right next thing is?
Anyway, isn't it the same for most people?
I should be grateful, you think.
But do you? And should you?
Before deciding to "suck it up", it's worth doing a bit more investigation.
In coaching clients I find they almost always end up talking about work - their hopes, dreams, frustrations and disappointments.
And we often find that inside those complaints and disappointments are some gold nuggets - when we feel a negative emotion, it's usually because our values have been violated in in some way.
Something important to us is not being seen, heard, felt, or expressed.
This could be to do with either relationships at work - not feeling heard or understood or appreciated. Or, it could be that the tasks themselves do not light us up. You might have become good at them. But they don't bring you joy and make your heart sing.
Firstly - relationships at work.
Here I find that the first step is to heal the emotional triggers. This is about guiding the unconscious mind through a process that identifies the positive lessons in past experiences that felt disappointing, or perhaps even traumatic.
I don't even need to know what those experiences were. The process is to do with re-coding how a memory is stored in the brain, rather than talking about the memory.
Often clients find that the person that pissed them off before doesn't seem to annoy them anymore. They see that person's behaviour as something to do with them and realised it doesn't have to affect them.
Now most people know this consciously. The difference is getting the unconscious mind to notice that and produce feelings which correspond to that calm sense of neutrality and inner peace about it.
Anyway, as a result, people find their colleagues respond differently to them. Perhaps it's a shift in the tone of voice, facial expression, or body language which affects the interaction. But anyway, they report that it suddenly feels lighter and freer.
The second step is to notice if, after clearing the emotions, it feels like there is still an issue that needs resolving - perhaps we need someone's behaviour to change.
This is where we look at how to communicate our needs in such a way as people get an idea of what our experience of the problem is, rather than phrasing it in such a way that it lands as an accusation.
Unfortunately, when we get upset, parts of our brain are not available to us. So the words that come our are less refined. We're inclined to say "You never, or you always".
Immediately that will result in a defensive reaction and the other person's emotional temperature will start to rise. This makes the rest of the conversation more complicated.
We need to find a way to own the issue for ourselves. For example:
"When I get home and find the washing has been left in the machine for a few days, it smells. So I have to put it on again and then hang it out and I run out of time to do my washing and get it dry in time for my trip away. I worry that I'm going to be doing the presentation in wet clothes".
This doesn't solve the whole conflict. But it does give you an idea of what my concern and problem is rather than me telling you how you never pull your weight around the house followed by insults A, B, C and D.
As a result there's a higher chance you might respond empathetically to me and either agree to solve this problem in the future, or let me know if there's something preventing you from helping me that we can then try and solve together.
It maybe that you don't really care about the issue in which case, at that point, I will know for sure if we have a conflict of personality or values. But at least, instead of jumping to that conclusion, I've had a chance to check first and maybe get my problem solved and look for a win/win.
So I coach clients through this and suggest they get a copy of the Transforming Communication book by Richard Bolstad, and/or attend one of the courses which I offer three times a year. Whether they do depends usually on how much conflict they are experiencing at home and at work.
In the course we look at more elegant ways to find win/win outcomes instead of compromising. And we look at what to do if it's clear the other person doesn't really share our concern and has different priorities all together.
Sometimes I come in an run workshops in their workplace on communication so everyone can benefit.
But, if there's not appetite for that from bosses at the top, then my clients are left with the question of what is important to them now, in their life and career.
And this is where we start to look at the second important aspect of this topics - your unique career & lifestyle values.
This is a process of noticing what's really important to you. We talk about what Joseph Campbell calls your "white moments" - those moments of bliss where you were doing something that filled you with a sense of oneness, timelessness or joy - a kind of flow state.
Sports people experience this. And artists, musicians. They crave it and look for it. But so do people who are at the top of their field and love what they do.
Unfortunately people can end up at the top their field and hate what they do.
Unconsciously they maybe still trying to get a parent's approval, or be more concerned by what other people think than what lights them up as a soul, as a person.
This often happens when we have been ridiculed or shamed for expressing our dreams, desires, or showing up authentically as ourselves at some point when we were young.
Once again, there are some effective processes for releasing these emotions and finding the positive lessons from those memories at the unconscious level.
But, it's also important to get clarity over what drives us inherently. What motivates us. Because that is how we find our niche. In a market driven society, it's the secret of how we thrive AND hold on to our sense of authenticity and integrity.
But how do we know what that is for sure?
Well, in my experience in coaching people, the answer is to be found in the body.
Instead of listening to what people say, it's important to notice how they say it - the tone of voice, the facial expression, the involuntary body language.
Usually people start to glow when they talk about some side interest of hobby. And usually they feel they can't make that into a realistic living. Sometimes they are right.
However, if we mine those experiences for what was important to them in those memories, we start to get a sense of their transferable values.
By this I mean, do they enjoy working with their hands? Or with people? Or in nature? At night? In the morning? With things or ideas?
Usually I capture these words in writing and then we go through a process of shuffling them round until we know what's most important.
It's a pedantic process. Each time they think they've finished I insist we do it again and get them to check inside "What's really, REALLY important here?"
There's always this moment where they look at me a bit perplexed, like they just want to move on.
But it's usually the third time we go through it that the real nuggets and insights step forward into the daylight. And then they get it!
Once we have THAT refined list, they go away with something that they can use in a cover letter for a job application. But more than this, most people tell me later that they started to apply for jobs that they would never have applied for previously. Because now they have the clarity to see what's really important to them in an overall sense. And they can see how any number of jobs in different industries could align with those values.
Most importantly - they now know what their top 3 values are. So they know that if they don't get number 1, they should say no to that particular offer and keep searching. Hopefully they will get number 2 and 3. But if they don't get an office view, and that was number 4, they can negotiate for it in six months time when that office is vacant.
But it's not a deal breaker. Whereas number 1 is.
If you don't know, at every level of your being, what number 1 is, then it's easy to bounce around like a ship in a storm with no rudder and no sails feeling very seasick and disgruntled.
It doesn't mean anything is wrong with you. It means everything is right with you. We just need to find out what your number 1 priority is. Because that is related to Your Real Dreams in life.
And when you have that level of clarity, when your dreams are shouting, instead of the voice of anxiety and depression, well, anxiety and depression go below decks and have a snooze.
Their function is to let you know when you're off course in life, when you're not meeting your highest values.
Personality tests can be useful here sometimes. But it's important to drill down and find out what is most important to you. What's unique about you!
And that's totally possible.
And it's why I love what I do!
Because, in the big picture, if everyone has found their niche, their soul purpose, then they go home happier, raise happier kids, have happier partners. The economy improves. The community benefits. And the planet as a whole.
How cool is that?
By doing you, you get to create a happy world :-)