What to do if you feel trapped in your job
In my world, January 29th isn't any other day; it's Meg Freedom Day. Today marks the one year anniversary of leaving my job and choosing myself. I wrote this for anyone who's feeling like I was, to show there is hope, and there is another way. If you’re getting home and sobbing at the bottom of the stairs, or if you’re feeling physically sick and trapped whenever you get near the building, or if your job makes you feel like a shell of the person you once were, get out.
Or if you have a gut feeling that you shouldn’t be there, or if it’s something you thought you wanted but it turns out you now don’t, get out.
Or at least make a plan.
Let’s face it, very few people in the world are able to just to up and quit a job. I know I wasn’t. I had to sacrifice a lot to leave, and chances are, you do too.
But once you’ve got your plan, that ‘out’, everything is going to feel a lot more positive. Even if that out is in a year or two year’s time.
There’s little worse than feeling trapped in a situation that you feel you’ll never get out of. Your mind starts going to really dark places, and it feels like you’ll never see light again.
So when you’ve got a plan, the light starts to get in. You have an opportunity to imagine a different life for yourself. And a different version of yourself that uses your skills, your strengths and your gifts for something you want to do.
And while you’re opening the crack for light to get in, do other things to widen that gap. While I was making plans, I started religiously listening to podcasts (The Lively Show and Good Life Project). I listened to podcasts featuring people who had escaped and were making their own life. I listened to people who were doing life their own way and the hard journey they had to make to get there.
And something started happening.
By surrounding myself with people - even if they were only in my earphones - who had done it, and were in the process of doing it, it was starting to become the new normal. The idea of me getting out, and starting a new life and journey didn’t seem so far away. (Which is also why I started my soon-to-be Couragemakers podcast, but more details on that soon).
Once this happens, other options start opening up. For me, it was realising I don’t have to work in the charity sector, and I might be able to work for myself. And that I might even be able to pursue my dream of travelling the world. You begin to feel less trapped.
When those options start becoming clear, shit gets both exciting and scary. Which is a hell of a lot better than the present.
But the present can teach you a lot about what you don’t want in your life. For example, you can write a list of things you don’t want in a future job/career/path and use them as a non-negotiable checklist when searching out new opportunities.
You can reverse engineer what you hate to find the things you might like.
If you’re stuck in a job right now that’s draining you, that’s making you feel like a stranger in your own life, that has you dreading the morning, sit down with a friend and look at your options. And include the crazy out-of-this-world ones. Especially include those ones. When you start to get creative, that’s where the magic starts to happen.
And know that you are not alone. This is only temporary, and it will soon be a distant memory.
I’m not saying it’s an easy journey or decision. It’s hard as hell. A lot of people probably won’t understand you wanting to leave, especially if you’ve got a contract and everything looks good from the outside.
But it’s not their decision. And you don’t have to justify it to anyone other than yourself.
So, if you’re struggling right now, do these 3 things:
1. Sit down with a friend and look at your options. And I mean really explore each option
2. Make a non negotiable list of things your next journey can’t include
3. Work out your baseline - what is the minimum amount of money per month and per year that you need to survive
And then make a plan.
This doesn’t have to be your life. I’m not saying I know what your life is going to look like or you do either. But I know that right now, it’s not serving you and it’s taking away from the wonderful person you are.
And you sure as hell are worth more than that.
It’s going to take time. And it’s going to take time to re-build yourself. But you will get there.
Love yourself enough to leave and see what could be.
For me, that looked like moving in with in-laws, working for myself and saving up to travel the world. I'll be leaving in August August to spend 3 months travelling from the West to East Coast of the States, and 6 months across India, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Indonesia. And then, who knows?!
What could it be for you?