“Expect change. Analyze the landscape. Take the opportunities. Stop being the chess piece; become the player. It’s your move.”
Tony Robbins, Motivational author and coach
Our existence is a series of complex navigations in which the map is often withheld from sight and relies heavily on our personal decisions regarding where the path ultimately leads us. One certainly wouldn’t start a cross-country adventure with such limited guidance, but in life, many circumstances are beyond our own control.
As children and young adults, we’re often encouraged to take the opportunities presented to us with both significant consideration and caution. But, as with so many decisions in life, there are pros and cons that inevitably come along with opportunities, and often we perceive these occasions in the short term rather than their impact over time.
These decisions contribute to our overall happiness and situation in life – some fulfilling our days with abundant meaning and tangible substance, while others seem to test our very strength while draining our spirit of any real purpose.
A lack of purpose in life is paralyzing. It leads to feelings of emptiness as you ruminate over your dissatisfaction with professional relationships or your unchanging status at your place of employment.
This lack of purpose can often be linked to low self-esteem and over-sensitivity. But unforeseen circumstances often render us incapable of altering the story playing out before us.
For instance, for one to take the opportunities in question (especially in our careers), one must first be presented with them by some outside force or a person who values who they are and what they stand for and, in turn, sees incredible potential in their overall contributions.
My grandfather always told me that hard work, continual dedication, and remaining true to yourself were the criteria necessary to gain the attention of upper management, which eventually would lead to opportunities for advancement and growth.
My grandfather was an incredibly smart individual, and his logic about workplace advancement and growth was probably practical during his generation. He worked for the same organization his entire career, never having to look elsewhere, as his needs for meaning and purpose (both personally and financially) were always satisfied. Moreover, he never had to question his value to the organization because their actions were transparent, thus leaving employees with a firm understanding of their importance.
But how is one supposed to take the opportunities they’re provided at their place of employment if they aren’t any offered? If they’re left sitting on the sidelines watching colleagues (who may or may not be more qualified) advancing and growing in their careers. In contrast, others are left wondering what more they need to do for those in a managerial capacity to see them, hear them, and validate their needs for meaning and purpose in the organization.
While many have mixed feelings about the Great Resignation, which came about during our recent global pandemic, I can certainly understand the motivation. There comes a point in all our lives when we need to look at a situation, especially our careers, and ask some difficult questions about whether the current path will lead us to feelings of meaning and purpose or hollowness.
Are we simply remaining in our current circumstance because it’s familiar and prevents us from experiencing the discomfort of having to reacclimate ourselves to a new, possibly more rewarding, situation?
Are we simply afraid of finally acknowledging our true feelings – our lack of purpose – with the one who most definitely needs to hear what they’ve known but denied for so long? Ourselves.
We’re at the end of another calendar year. While going from December 31st to January 1st requires no effort to accomplish and causes few disruptions to our everyday lives, psychologically, a small part of us all believes it’s time for a fresh start. A time when we examine our current existence (both the good and the bad) and say to ourselves, “is this really where I want to be?”
As mentioned above, taking the opportunities provided is hard when there aren’t any offered. But the older I get, the more I’ve come to understand that we all need a reason to stay when it comes to our careers. Yes, I know that earning a living is a necessity in life, but so is being a happy and valued contributor with growth potential. So ask yourself that question, and if you’re struggling to find valid reasons, it might be time to create some opportunities of your own.