If there’s one thing that makes me really sad it’s when I hear someone say they’re just living for the weekend. They’re resigned to the idea that “this is all there is.”
It makes me even sadder to see how people compensate for not enjoying their work life and not even questioning that maybe something needs to change.
I know change is hard and sometimes it feels impossible. That’s why a lot of people self-sooth with seemingly benign behaviors and lifestyle choices.
These socially acceptable behavior patterns mask unhappiness.
If you don’t see them for what they are they’ll trap you and keep you from seeking a better life.
I’m going to share the 3 most common early warning signs I’ve seen that signal your job has gone sour and you’d be wise to consider making a change.
The good news is that if you catch these early warning signs you can pivot (you don’t even have to make a big leap) and change course. I’ll tell you more about that in upcoming weeks.
So here are the 3 most common early warning signs to pay attention to:
Warning sign #1: lifestyle creep (also known as retail therapy)
You have a pretty good paying job, you rent or own a nice place and buy lots of nice stuff (nothing wrong with that) but you’re always on the lookout to upgrade and increase the stuff you have, the clothes, the car, the latest tech gadgets (you’re first in line to get the newest version of your phone) and you spend your work breaks surfing the net for that next shiny object that’ll give you that temporary shot of serotonin.
This is lifestyle creep or what some people call “retail therapy.”
It’s not deadly, it won’t kill you, but….
Ask yourself, do you really need all this stuff? Does it provide you with a sense of fulfillment and meaning?
What would happen if you didn’t spend endless hours accumulating it?
Is it an antidote to feeling bored with your life, your work?
Warning sign # 2: party till you drop (or rely on substances to get through)
I once had a client who despised her high-paying, prestigious job but stayed with it because she was the first one in her family to achieve this level of income and status.
She was only doing what a lot of young people do when they get out of college or grad school.
She fulfilled her parents’ dreams. But the path they steered her toward wasn’t a good fit.
So she went to her job, most days, and partied with her friends most nights.
Again, nothing wrong with enjoying yourself and the fruits of your labor.
But, the problem was that the expensive dinners out, the many rounds of drinks and the late nights were taking a toll.
She knew she was miserable but couldn’t even begin to consider a career change.
Instead, she went to therapy. And, surprise, her therapist pointed out that maybe she should consider a job change. She encouraged her to seek out a career transition specialist.
That’s where I came in. She was brave enough to take a look and admit that all the nights of partying were her way of trying to survive in a job she hated.
It took a while but she eventually figured out what her dreams were and they were not the same ones her parents had for her.
She ended up trading in her partying nights for a career and a life that were a much better fit.
Warning sign #3: the great escape (or living for the long weekend)
This warning sign is so benign most people never notice there’s a problem.
It goes like this – you spend oodles of time planning an amazing vacation, you drool over images of your upcoming getaway, you buy all the stuff you “need” to go on this amazing adventure.
You go on your adventure.
You get back to work, relaxed and refreshed.
You joke with your colleagues that you know this feeling won’t last.
Later that day you start to calculate how long it will take to accumulate enough PTO or vacation time till you can break out of job jail again and make your getaway.
I remember doing this when I was working at a job that had become sooo routine, parts of it were so monotonous that the moment I got back from vacation I looked at the calendar and highlighted all the upcoming holidays and three-day weekends and then figured out how many hours I’d have to work until I saved up enough time off for another big vacation.
That’s kind of like living for the weekend. Dreaming of what you’ll do with your time off becomes your big distraction. It’s all you focus on.
Isn’t everyone always planning their next getaway or vacay? Even when they just got back from a couple of weeks off?
This sign goes hand-in-hand with lifestyle creep because it’s such a great distraction from the dull ache that is trying to signal you about what’s missing in your life.
Lifestyle creep, party till you drop and the great escape are socially acceptable trade-offs people make instead of looking inward and considering what change is being called for.
If you’re using any of these “tools” to get through the workweek, don’t get mad at yourself. There are reasons for not heeding these signs. These are dragons to be slayed and I’ll help you with that in the future.
The most important thing for you to know is this – change is possible.
I tell you this from years of experience helping people improve the quality of their lives.
The first step is just to embrace the idea that change is possible.
And if you don’t believe it yet, try making a mantra out of the phrase – change is possible.
Say it to yourself – change is possible. Write it on a sticky note – change is possible.
Be on the lookout for the early warning signs I’ve shared with you.
And if you do notice any of them, try that first little step.
Think, change is possible.
And let me know what mindshift happens for you.
On the journey with you,