How To Know When It’s Time For A Change
Have you been there?
Trying to figure out your life, trying really hard to think of a way to get through one more day at work, or to pass this next exam?
How does all the worrying make you feel?
How long can you take it? Or are you already at a point when you tell yourself each and every day “I’ve had enough!”?
You are not alone. I know I’ve been there.
The signs that you need a change are easy to spot:
- Coming back from vacation, you start planning the next one before you’ve even seen the photos from the last trip.
- Ignoring your co-workers because you hate the questions they might ask and find them strangely annoying.
- Getting angry at every little mistake someone around you makes.
- Trying to ignore all the surrounding noises only to find yourself listening to them and hating your day.
- Lacking energy and motivation to perform even the simplest tasks.
It is not your fault. Well, at least not yet.
But if you want to get out of this situation, you need to realise that you need a change in your life – and you need it as soon as possible.
What Are The Reasons You Feel Trapped?
Maybe your job got boring after years of performing the same tasks.
Maybe you weren’t appreciated enough or you didn’t get a raise or promotion, which you thought you deserved.
Maybe your co-workers and friends were achieving all those things you knew you could too, if only…
I’ve been there and I know it’s not fun.
I hated when my telephone rang because I had to talk to people, who were happier than me.
I hated to read my emails or my Facebook feed when it was full of joyful news and posts.
Not that I envied my friends or wished them bad, but I wished I was at least as happy as they were and had something newsworthy to share with them. I didn’t want their lives, only their positive energy and all the fun things they were doing.
I wanted to have more power to do the things I wanted to do, but instead, I was coming home exhausted and spent my evenings on the couch in front of the television watching stupid programs which made me neither happy nor relaxed.
I just wanted to switch off my mind to not think about the day I’ve just had or the day that was expecting me tomorrow. Then I’d go to take a shower and without the TV on I’d summarise my day in my head and make plans for the next one.
Day after day after day…
Things were getting out of control.
The stress, the pressure to be at my best at all times, the lack of support from my co-workers or their mistakes slowing down my own performance, the lack of any kind of movement in my life – all of this made me miserable.
I was crying after leaving work or even before getting to the office.
Hell, I sometimes even cried in my own office, hoping no one will open the door and see me in tears…
How Long Is Too Long Before You Make A Change?
I don’t really know how long exactly this continued, I know that at some point I wanted a way out.
I started doing more of the things I’ve enjoyed and less, well, working. I started reading a lot of blogs, getting inspiration and planning my escape.
I researched what I needed to do to change my life from an office job to an independent and flexible online occupation.
And then one day, after the hundredth meeting, which brought nothing but disappointment, I made up my mind.
I set the date for quitting my job.
The decision did not come easy. There were too many factors involved and too many unknowns, but I felt instantly good about my decision.
That was more than enough for me to be absolutely sure it was the right decision. I’d already done my research, I had a plan, and I had a backup plan.
I knew the risks and I was fine with the worst case scenario. Most importantly, my husband supported my decision. So did my parents and other family members after I told them.
Don’t be mistaken. I knew back then it would take a lot of time and effort to first get out of the job and then build something of my own.
We’re talking about a period of 6-7 months from the beginning of last year up until June for taking the decision to quit my job and another three months until I handed out my resignation, plus another three months I had to stay at my position until I was set free.
(Three months is the normal, standard, default period to quit a job in Germany; I think it’s even set to this value in the German employment law. It could be set to something else in the work contract, or the two parties can reach an agreement upon a shorter or longer period. )
In my case, I used the default period as stated in my contract, worked hard all of my hours and took the rest of my vacation days at the end of the period, meaning I was out of the office for good by the middle of December 2014.
How Did I Know It Was Time For A Change?
Of course, I could have stayed at this job, received my salary at the end of each month and only really lived during my vacations.
But the moment I took that decision to quit and build something else, I felt motivated and good about my life for the first time in years.
Nothing scared me anymore, not the bureaucracy I had to face, not the possible disappointment from co-workers and managers, not the guilt of leaving the company which once meant so much to me and where I’ve met my husband and learned the most in my still very short career.
Feeling good about a decision and having a goal set in my mind gave me all the confidence to change my life and move on.
I talked a lot to friends and family since then. They all listened very intrigued and gave me invaluable advice and insights on their experience in similar moments.
But most of all, I had faith that I’ve reached a point in my life when I needed to make a change in order to be happy again.
Do You Need To Quit Your Job To Change Your Life?
Of course not!
Your job might not even be the reason you feel unhappy in your life.
You need to identify what exactly is off in your own situation.
But I would suggest, if you’re feeling unhappy in your life, don’t wait for things to happen or signs to appear.
Here’s what you should do, in my humble opinion:
- Analyse what makes you unhappy.
- Research ways you can change your current situation.
- Be proactive. Don’t just sit around and wait for things to happen on their own.
- Go do some changes. Those could be in your diet, in your habits, in your hobbies, or in the way you spend your vacations.
Just about any change is much better than no change at all.
Think about it as evolution. Even if something used to make you happy a year or a decade ago, it doesn’t mean you should hang on to it forever.
People change, places change, your needs and desires change. Your life should change, too. Why should you stay in the same place and not evolve, right?
Take baby steps, make a plan or a to-do list, and go do the things that make you happy!
Have you done some recent changes in your life? What were they? Or are you thinking of doing something different soon? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
P.S. In case any of my ex-co-workers are reading this: don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy working with you (most of the time, at least) and I’m still missing you occasionally!