Monday, 17 September 2007

Step 4: recognising limbo

The brilliant Oliver Burkeman wrote in this week's Guardian about self help gurus who always talk about their 'lowest point'. The point at which they pick themselves up, brush themselves down and start all over again. They recognise that things can only get better, and then LO! then they do.

My problem with that is that I knew I was unhappy, but was also aware that things could be much, much worse than they were. I had a good, high paying, high status job, a flat in London (miracle!), nice friends, lovely holidays...could I really complain about a lack of fulfilment?

Yet in the meantime I hated my job so much I would see Friday nights as just being closer to Monday mornings. I could barely speak to my family about my job and got quite depressed.

But the last thing I felt like doing was risking all the good things in my life to try and get a bit happier. This is what I mean by limbo. If I had had a real problem I'd have solved it. But I had no idea how to deal with this.

So, before you get out of limbo, you have to recognise it. But how?

It's clearly difficult to generalise but from my experience:
1. Listen carefully to how others complain about work. Do you hate your job more than they do?
2. Do you spend time straining to avoid work?
3. Do you hate the idea of being your boss?
4. Do you feel embarrassed when you tell others what you do?
5. Would you be disappointed with your life if you were to die tomorrow, doing what you do?

And yet, do you feel paralysed by the thought of doing something else? Like you have too much to lose, or don't know what you would do anyway?

If the answer is 'yes' to any or all of these questions, it may be time to accept you're in limbo. And that this is as dangerous as the 'lowest point' all those self help gurus waffle on about.

1 comment:

Laura Richards said...

I think by you having this experience with hating your job so much, you are really going to find out and realize what true happiness is all about...

And it's not about the high-status job, or the big salary, or the flat. It's about loving what you do, using your strengths, and being who you are (and want to be)in its truest sense.

And it's amazing how once you have these things, all those other things that you thought were so important are suddenly meaningless.