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 test?
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 can’t take it anymore!”
You are not alone; I know I’ve been there.
Coming back from vacation only to start planning the next one before I’ve even seen the photos from the last trip.
Ignoring your co-workers because you hate the questions they ask and find them strangely annoying although you used to hang out before and you enjoyed it.
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.
It does sound a lot like what people nowadays describe as a burnout
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 absolutely 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 summarize my last day in my head and make plans for the next one.
Day after day after day…
That was getting out of control, I know.
The stress, the pressure to be at my best all the time, the lack of support from my co-workers or even worse – their mistakes slowing down my own performance, the lack of any kind of movement in my life – all of this made me so miserable, I remember crying after leaving work or before getting to the office.
Hell, I even cried sometimes in my own office, hoping no one will open the door and see me in tears…
So how long is too long?
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 job.
And then one day, after the hundredth meeting, which brought nothing but disappointment, I made up my mind: I set a 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, and I had an exit strategy.
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 me 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 know I felt good.
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 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.
So what happened afterwards, you might ask?
As you can see, I’m building, still very slowly but constantly, my online project – this blog, and I’m learning exciting new things every day. My head is full of ideas on what to write about next or where to plan a trip to.
I’ve just returned from the most amazing vacation I’ve ever had and I feel more than happy! I was even eager to get back home and get some work done; I think that pretty much means I’m on the right track.
Now, I will not tell you to quit your job, because this might not be the thing which makes you unhappy and you might want to change
But I would suggest, if you’re feeling unhappy in your life, don’t wait for things to happen or signs to appear.
Analyse the things which make you feel unhappy, research what you can do to change them, be proactive and 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 the evolution – even if something used to make you happy a year or a decade ago, doesn’t mean you should hang on to it forever.
People change, places change, the demands and the life change, so why should you stay at the same place and not evolve?
Take baby steps, make a plan or a to-do list or a bucket list and go do some 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? 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 from time to time!