As I creep closer to the big 4-0, I feel a sense of pressure to be “successful”. More than ever before in my career thus far, I hear a voice telling me to get my sh*t together, telling me I should be a great homemaker, maintain a healthy lifestyle and be at a certain level in my career in terms of experience, salary and respect.
That voice is juxtaposed with another voice which reminds me that feeling accomplished shouldn’t be marked by materials and money, but by happiness – the sign of true success is reaching a point in life where you feel fulfilled on an organic and authentic level. Superficiality isn’t going to provide a long-term sense of fulfilment, because it’s all surface level. Contentment is deeper rooted than that, and no Prada (or Primark for that matter) handbag is going to fill an emotional void long-term. Don’t get me wrong: it’s still okay to buy that bag if it brings you a little joy – but the key is to make sure the foundations of your happiness are firmly set before looking for shorter-term sparks of joy.
Earlier this year I started to feel a sense of unfulfillment. I began to question where this was coming from. It wasn’t my home life: I consider myself very lucky to have happy and loving relationships with my family and my close-knit circle of friends. My general health was in good condition. What else was left? Work.
If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll know that I work in corporate communications in addition to writing and running my blog and social media, a job that I’ve enjoyed since 2015, six years. But earlier this year I realised I wasn’t having as much of a good time as I had been in previous years. There had been a few changes to the team, and there was a pretty significant disappointment for me personally.
Now, usually I’m all for change because I see it as opportunity, regardless of how scary it might be – but the set-back at work made me re-evaluate myself. I realised I didn’t have to be part of the situation around me. Instead, I could be the change. So I took a side step to develop a different set of skills (marketing) and become part of an environment that was much more creative (the art school), while remaining in a workplace that I like, with people that I genuinely have a great time with.
Ultimately, it felt amazing taking back control of my own circumstances. I decided to seize an opportunity not for climbing a ladder, gaining respect, or earning more money, but for widening my skillset, broadening my perspective, and making sure I remained someone who responds well to change.
I hope this post makes sense to you, and that it helps in some way if you are currently in a career rut or uncomfortable situation. My parting words of advice: don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Your future might not be right in front of you, just slightly off centre.