“And I realized that there’s a big difference between deciding to leave and knowing where to go.” — Robyn Schneider
As a friend leaves her job, I wonder at what point did she stop feeling fulfillment.
What do you do if you find yourself in a situation where you don’t feel fulfilled?
I see more and more people leaving jobs, people leaving people, and people leaving the lives they were creating, to try and find fulfillment.
In The Inner Edge: The 10 Practices of Personal Leadership, Joelle K. Jay walks through what to do when you find yourself in a situation where you don’t feel fulfillment.
What to Do When You Don’t Feel Fulfillment
What do you do if you find yourself in a situation where you don’t feel fulfillment? You have three options: stay, change, or leave. What you should do depends on your values.
“Leaders ask this question all the time. Especially in a post-9/11 world, fewer and fewer leaders, especially those who are committed to being better leaders and leading a better life, are willing to sacrifice a personal sense of fulfillment for superficial versions of success.
As I see it, if you find yourself in a situation where you don’t feel fulfillment — a job, a career, a relationship, a particular way you’ve configured your life — you have three options:
You can stay.
You can change.
You can leave.
Any one of these can be right. It all depends on your values.”
1. You Can Stay
If you know what your most important values are, you can often find a way to spend more time in your values. As one of my early mentors put it, sometimes the best job is the one you already have.
“You can often stay where you are in your work, and life, and find new ways of honoring your values. Colleen, the banker, provides a stellar example of how you can feel fulfillment in the exact same situation in which it was lacking. Colleen went through the while process to get there:
- She acknowledged her loss of motivation.
- She mined, defined, and refined her values.
- She assessed her current life in terms of her values.
- She saw a vision for a more fulfilling life.
- She asked herself how she could feel more fulfilled.
This process helped her find her way back to herself. She did this all on her own, with very little change in her life except a new perspective and a renewed sense of purpose. But that’s not always possible. When it’s not, you will need to take more drastic measures. You may need to make a change.”
2. You Can Change
Nature favors the flexible, and the more adaptable you are, the more options you have in any situation.
“You may not be able to find your values in your current circumstances, in which case you’ll need to look for ways to alter the situation. One leader I coached, Mindy, discovered that by exploring new ways of working (telecommuting, using flex time, starting a job share, and delegating more creatively) she was able to keep her job as a high-powered corporate attorney while spending time with her newborn son. If your values don’t seem to be honored by your circumstances, you may be able to change your circumstances to suit your values.”
3. You Can Leave
You can choose to leave. The thing to remember is that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and wherever you go, you take you with you.
“In the scenarios above, Colleen and Mindy were able to either flex their perspective or their situation to fit their values. Sometimes, that’s a compromise neither you nor your organization are willing to make. The sooner you can realize that, the sooner you can move on. Here are some leaders who had to make that decision.
Larson valued service. He resigned from his job as the CFO of a health benefits company when it was clear the dominant value of the president was profit – or as Larson put it, ‘the margin above the mission.’
Noah valued rest and restoration. He gave up his stressful two-hour commute to the city for a less flashy but equally rewarding job close to home.
Marcus valued compassion. When the partners in his radiology practice doubled their caseload and became, as he put it, ‘a patient mill,’ he switched practices and joined a group that allowed for more patient consultation and long-term relationships.”
Renegotiate the Situation
You can look at work and life through the lens of your values. You can use your values to guide how you change the situation, or as way to see that you can’t.
“When you identify your values, you can hold them up against the circumstances you face and decide how to renegotiate the situation to make it work – or else, to realize more quickly that it can’t.”
Running away or getting away from something is never the same as running towards something.
The key to knowing where to go, starts from knowing who you are, and what you want to spend more time doing.
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Image by Donato Accogli.