words to live by: very last moment in time
h is for happy: benefiting from a happiness project

time to wake up: making the most of the moment

making the most of the moment
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Last week was a tough one. It was one of those weeks that really challenged my resolve to be positive and present. Business trips are not my thing. I’m not a fan of being on the road, away from the people I love most and out of sync with my daily routines. Every time I travel for business and am forced to sit through meeting after meeting discussing topics that are not of interest to me, I think to myself, “I have to quit my job.” Trip after trip, I have the same experience, but when I come back, I get settled into my routine and forget about it until the next trip. But this trip was different. This trip I was not only required to do all of the things I dread—organizing meetings, taking notes on dull topics, listening to others talk about how great they are—but I also found myself in a very uncomfortable situation. I’m not going to get into the details of it (let’s just say it involved someone’s inappropriate behavior and a lot of crying on my part), but it was, in my opinion, a huge sign that I am not in the right place, career-wise. That moment reaffirmed what I've known all along: I am in desperate need of a new job.

For almost as long as I’ve been working at my job, I’ve had this thought in my mind. To be perfectly honest (and at the risk of sounding quite negative): I don’t like my job. I like the people I work with. I like feeling like, indirectly, I’m making a difference in the world. But the actual job itself? I’m not a fan. The highlights of my day come when I’m working on my blog or reading other blogs or doing anything but any task that’s actually in my job description. When I start thinking about it, it makes me angry. Why have I stayed in this job for as long as I have? Why am I not doing something that motivates and excites me? Why have I been so incredibly scared of change, to the point that I’ve stayed when I know I should go? All last week, as I found myself sitting through meeting after meeting, my mind was racing with these questions. Minutes ticked by and the questions grew louder and louder. I could no longer ignore them. They were taking over the positive side of me, the side that really wanted to believe that I could keep doing my job even though I didn’t love it.

I was sitting in one meeting, staring up at the EXIT sign on the wall and all I could think was, “That’s what I need to do. I need to put my pen down, stop taking notes, get up, and exit this situation.” Of course it’s not that easy. As tempting as it has been to simply quit, that’s not the best, most logical plan. What would I do about money? Health insurance? What if I couldn’t find another job? What if the next job I went to was worse than this one? What if I had no time for blogging or writing? The questions kept coming and with each passing moment I grew more and more afraid. The EXIT sign might have been glowing right in my face, but it wasn’t all that easy to get up and walk through the door.

I thought about leaving all day. I went online during the breaks between meetings and applied for jobs. I wracked my brain for contacts and connections and ideas. By that night I was in a bit of a state, upset that I was unhappy in my career and distraught that I was unable to find an instant solution to the problem. It was really hard to be positive about this and even harder to stay in the present, since it was the present that was making me so unhappy. It was clear to me that I’d been scared to change and, by in giving into that fear, I had found myself nearly three years into a job that wasn't at all me. Though I’d always wanted a new job desperately, I was—and still am—terrified at the thought of going somewhere new.

One day while I was away, I woke to another day of meetings and in my in-box found this quote by Betty Bender: “Anything I’ve ever done that ultimately was worthwhile... initially scared me to death.” When I read that my heart started beating faster. It made me see so clearly that I’m going to have to take some risks, make some big changes, if I really want to have a job that’s worthwhile for me. It’s terrifying, but it’s something I know I have to do. Of course, being me, I want it done instantly. I want to quit and job hunt all day. I want to have the perfect new job by the end of the month. As anyone who’s ever looked for a job knows, this is not how it usually works.

In typical Dani fashion, I was thinking at high speed, trying to assess the best plan of attack, the best way to get a new, awesome job in the shortest amount of time. As my mind was racing from the quote I’d just read, I opened the next email in my in-box and read my horoscope. It said: “You're itching to jump ahead quickly -- but you can tell that you can't do so just yet. It's a good time for you to marshal your resources and wait a little longer until you know the time is right.” Though emotionally the time feels right to leave my job, I know it’s not the most logical choice for me right now. I have to be patient. I have to wait for the right opportunities to come my way. Or, rather, I need to create the opportunities for myself. Acting impulsively isn’t going to help me right now. In fact, it’s likely to cause more stress and make finding the right new job even more difficult. Hard as it is (especially when on business trips) for me to stay at my job, it’s important that I be patient. It’s important that I “wait a little longer until I know the time is right.”

I know the timing will never be perfect and there’s never a good time to make a big change, but I need to be careful and logical and not always jump ahead the way I love to do. I may not be happy with my job right now, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be positive. What’s the difference, you ask? I might know for a fact that I’m not going to be happy at work, but I also know that I can be positive about the work I am doing. I can look for the things that are good about my job, and, yes, there are plenty of good things about my job. I have the ability to learn and try new things. Even though I hate the business trips, sometimes the travel is interesting and inspiring. I work with great people, people who really encourage me to do well and want me to succeed. There are great things about my job. For now, I need to focus on those things and make the most of them. It's not easy for me to do this right now, but I've come up with a list of ideas of how I can make the most of my job right now even though I desperately want to change it. Here are my ideas for making the most of the moments I have (even when they're not ideal...): 


How to Be Positive When You're Not Living Your Dream
 

 

  • Try as hard as you can to be in the moment. Okay, I know this sounds like the opposite of what anyone (me included!) would want to do when s/he is having a hard time. When you're in a tough spot, the last thing you want to do is keep reminding yourself that you're in that spot. But try to think about it on a smaller level. Yes, I hate being on a business trip, but when I'm walking to meetings, I try to think about the things that are happening to me in that exact moment. I try to think about the sun shining on my face, about the the interest people I'm passing by on the street. I think about the fact that it's warmer than home and that I'm lucky not to be feeling sick or cold or upset. When I start focusing on the tiny little bits of the moment (and not thinking ahead to the god-awful meeting I'm about to attend), everything seems a little bit better. Try it the next time you're doing something you don't want to do. I bet you'll find it a lot more enjoyable than you thought! 
  • Avoid looking at the worst in things. Last week I really found myself looking at the worst in everything. Once I started looking for the bad, it was like a downward spiral. I started seeing the bad things everywhere. Don't make the same mistake I did. While it's going to be pretty much impossible to completely ignore the things that are bothering you (and that's also not very healthy to do), it's important that you don't go around seeking the bad things. It's so easy to find the negative things about a situation when you look for them, so don't. You're only going to make yourself feel a lot worse (as I did last week) and you're not going to change anything. Focus your attention on the good (or on how you can make things good in the future), and you'll make a lot more out of your current situation. Being positive can impact your mental, emotional, and physical health so even if you're in a bad situation, you're going to be a lot better off if you have a positive attitude about it. 
  • Think about what you want to change. Now I don't think it's super healthy to spend all of your time sitting around thinking about what you want to change since that is drawing your attention toward the negative things, but I do think it's important to consider what you would like to be better and how you might go about making it better. When I was sitting in meetings all week, I took some time to think about how I would want to be living my life and what it is that I really want to be doing. I realized that, on a high level, I want to change my job. But I also discovered that I wanted to change my attitude (which is why I'm writing this post!). I uncovered that it wouldn't be the best idea to just quit my job and hop on a plane back home, so I had to change my attitude about my situation. Thinking about what you want to change can help you realize that the situation you're in doesn't have to be permanent. Maybe you have to stay in it for a little while, but there is hope that in the future you will be able to be in a position that makes you very happy and fulfilled. 
  • Find other ways to enjoy your life. It's hard when things are going wrong in one area of life to want to focus on anything else. When I'm miserable at my job, I want to put all of my attention and effort into finding a new job. I have spent a great deal of time over the last week venting and discussing and overanalyzing and feeling downright stuck in the spot I am in now. I've been more unhappy over the past week than I've been in a long time. But you know why that is? Because I was putting all of my thoughts and effort into one area of my life -- my job. In reality, I'm a lot more than just the job I do Monday through Friday. I have a social life, a love life, a blogging life, a great life. I have a lot going for me that has nothing whatsoever to do with my job. While I've been focusing on the one aspect of my life that's suffering (my career), the other aspects of my life that are great have still been there. It's my new resolve to spend more time focusing on the things that make me happy, while still spending time figuring out how to get out of the situation that's making me unhappy. I'm not going to ignore my unhappiness at work, but I'm not going to let it become the center of my life either.

  

Right now I'm going to do the best I can do make the most of the moments I have. I know that I'm not happy about work and I know I need to make some big changes, but I don't have to miserable until I make those dreams of mine come true. I feel as if I've just woken up and realize that I need to change, that I have to change. As scared as I might be of the idea of getting a new job, I’m going to work as hard as I can to create opportunities for myself -- and while I'm doing that I'm going to have a positive attitude. My goal right now is to be proactive and positive. So now I’m off to research jobs and find out how I can do what I’ve always loved—writing—as a career. And, hey, if any of you know of any writing/editing/creative gigs out there, feel free to let me know about them. I’m here, I'm finally awake, and I’m ready for a change.



How do you stay positive in a situation you can't change? 
How do you overcome fears about change? 
 

Comments

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This is a great post Dani. I really feel for you in this situation: I finally left my job last year after hating it for years, but being too scared to change. I'd tried being more positive and accepting within the job, but ultimately the job itself in relation to who I am was the problem. It definitely sounds like it's time for you to make a change. The practical wisdom is that it won't happen overnight, but you can work out both a realistic exit strategy from your current job and a plan to make your dreams come true. For example, can you save like crazy for six months and build up a fund to live on while your new writing career takes off? Could you explore doing your current job 4 days a week instead of 5, to give more time to what you love doing? I've been inspired by the posts in Zen Habits about moving into doing what you love as a career.

Two things I believe: one is that you can do it, you're a talented writer and you can follow your dream. Second, I believe that once you decide to change, and begin to put your energy behind that change (like making plans, exploring new avenues), the universe comes in to support you, and amazing things happen.

So I wish you lots of luck with it, and to just go for it. xx

Wow...that is exactly how I felt this past week at work. I even wrote about it in my blog...well, more like vented about it. My job is a bit different then most and it's not M-F or 8-5. I often find myself having to go to work on my days off too.

I really don't like my job and I was swallowed by that dark cloud this past week. Filled with anxiety before my "Monday" makes my "Sunday" dreadful. Here I am on "Thursday" and I can't believe that the week isn't over yet. I still have two days left.

I have been struggling with this the whole week...like you...and made the decision yesterday to focus on the good things as best as possible. I am a Christian, so I pray and pray and pray.

Before the start of the new week, I applied to two other jobs and use that hope to continue to get me through.

I use prayer, the people around me (which only works when you like them), and reminding myself that it won't last forever to get through situations that suck.

I don't have fear of change, because I love change. I love adventure and travel and the thought of moving to a whole new place is so exciting to me. I long for that kind of excitement. I fear the unchanging. I look at change whether job or city or style as an opportunity to reinvent myself. I love books, so I like to believe that my life is my story and with every change is a new chapter in the heroine's (that's me!) journey.

Good luck, Dani, on your search for a new job! Embrace the opportunity to put the new you into a career that fits.

A quick PS Dani - if you haven't come across it, check out the Freelance Writing Gigs blog http://www.freelancewritinggigs.com/

I can't see the comment feed at the moment, so apologies if someone else has suggested this too. x

When i find my self in a long term situation I do not want to be in (such as a job or class) I try to put aside my dislike for the situation while I am in the middle of it. Thinking and dwelling on the problem while it is ongoing just makes the pain worse. If you can deal with it in your own time when you are not being exposed to the situation it is easier to make rational decisions.

"it involved someone’s inappropriate behavior and a lot of crying on my part"

WOW, Dani, please tell me you have an HR department that you can go to on this. That is absolutely unprofessional, uncalled for, and just wrong wrong wrong.

{hug}

Please know you that shouldn't have to put up with any of that.

Welcome back Dani! It sounds like you have a good handle on the situation. Good for you for finally making the decision to jump ship. I'm of the opinion that we all spend far too much time at our jobs to stay in one we don't like.

In the past, when it's come to jobs, I've tended to jump ship and just swim like hell, which is odd for me seeing as I tend to be a planner. I think what happened is I'd gotten to points where the pain exceeds the pleasure to such an extent that I literally HAVE to get out. Whilst I'm currently really happy (mostly) about the career side of my life, I'd like to think that I'd see the warning signs and do something about them a lot sooner now.

As for writing gigs, you could try the job boards on Problogger, or go to elance.com. Another option could be to contact your local newspapers and see if there's anything going (you never know, especially with the smaller papers).

PS. I'm with Hayden re the inappropriate behaviour thing. Hope you had someone to go to about that.

Good luck with the job hunting!

Catherine - Thanks for your inspiring comment! I really think you're right about the practical wisdom. I'm sure I can find a way to start working on an exit strategy without dramatically quitting my job. I also really loved what you said about how the universe will respond if I begin taking action. I think that's definitely true. Thanks for the link to Freelance Writing Gigs too! That looks great!

Jonique - I really appreciate the comment. It's great to hear from someone who is a similar spot. It's a tough place to be in, but I believe we will get through it. I'm just going to keep applying and trying to find new ways to get to a place that makes me really happy.

Quinn - Great advice! I'm really trying to put aside my dislike for the situation and be positive about it. Dwelling on the negative only makes it worse and it always helps to focus on the positive. Being positive also makes it much easier to be rational.

Hayden - The way I wrote it makes it sound a bit more dramatic than maybe it was (or maybe I am rationalizing that now as I write this?), but I actually never thought about going to HR since it didn't involve anyone working for my company. However, since it was a work-related situation, that's not a bad idea. Thanks for the advice and the hug! :)

Sami - Thank you! I'm definitely at that point where I feel like I HAVE to get out, but I'm also trying to be logical and rational about it. It's a tough thing to balance and I definitely wish I'd listened to the warning signs sooner (like when the economy was better!). I'm definitely going to check out the suggestions you offered. I appreciate you taking the time to comment and share your ideas, Sami!

Dani-
I hear you loud and clear on this. I'm in the exact situation you are. I need out and I feel like I am very trapped in a job I do not like in the slightest. I am ALSO stuck in a very uncomfortable situation because of someone's inappropriate behavior and have had to deal with seeing them for a year since it happened. They sit very close to me and it makes for a very awkward environment.
It will be interesting to read your blog and see how you stay positive. I know it can be very hard.
I am working hard on living in the moment. I'm reading "The Power of Now" to see if that will help.

My mantra is "This too shall pass...."

Dani-thanks for a very open article. In my experience, awakening ebbs and flows, and ebbs can be quite uncomfortable. Careers, relationships, goals, life gets ruffled up. In these times, I've found it most useful to allow. If we completely and lovingly allow, even allow what we consider negative, what happens?

My mind told me I'll fall apart if I don't push to be postive, but what actually happens when I allow is that I can be still enough to see and release.

Thanks for a very helpful article.

k

It is difficult to have to live a life you do not wish to live. You give some very good ways to deal with it.

Avoid looking at the worst in things is definitely one of the ways to make the best of things.

Hey Dani!
Great post! I really liked this one :) I like how you keep finding inspiration to write all these posts on positivity!! Keep up the good work miss!

Weez - Sounds like you can really relate to what I'm writing about in this post. As you know, it's not easy to stay positive in these kinds of situations, but I'm going to do what I can to make the most of it while I'm still here AND to find options so I don't feel like I'm trapped. The Power of Now has definitely helped me a lot. I'm sure you'll find it useful too!

Kaushik - Thanks for your comment. I think it's really important to realize that both positive and negative situations come and go and that being still and being at one with what is (rather than what we think should be) is really important to living a happy and fulfilled life. I'm working to become more at peace with my current situation, which I think will help me be better prepared to move on to something that's more creative and fulfilling for me.

Steve - Yes, it is. In general, I have a lot of great things in my life, but having a job that's not what I want to do be doing is very difficult. For this reason, I'm going to try to make the best of it while seeking new opportunities for myself.

J.D. - Absolutely! It can be really hard when things seem bad to look for the good, but my desire to be positive has really helped me out in this situation. I can't say that I'm jumping for joy to be at work right now, but after taking my own advice, I'm a lot happier than I was when I wrote this post.

Diggy - Thanks! I'm glad you liked it. It's hard for me sometimes to write about things that are personal so it's great to get positive feedback on posts like this. It's negative situations like this one that inspire me to think more and more about positivity!

Oh Dani, I've been where you are now for almost two years. I came to the same conclusions that you did, and stuck it out for as long as necessary. I'm happy to report that things are finally falling into place, and I'll be able to make my move in about 3 more months.

Be patient, dear one. When the time is right, you'll know, and you'll leap from the nest and soar like the eagle you are.

I felt like that a few months ago, and I did quit, and I felt so free but then I got really and I mean, R e a l l y scared because of money, rent and food, but then everything started to fall on its place. I do like changes and it gets pretty scary sometimes but we cant live thinking "what if..". I liked this post a lot, good luck to you I hope you find yourself doing all the things that make you happy.

Jay - It's great to hear that someone who has been in the same situation is starting to see the change happening. That's very encouraging for me and I'm going to keep being positive about it. I know if I am, good things will happen!

Victoria - Good for you for taking the plunge and quitting! I'm sure that must have been really scary and it's a very brave thing to do. You've brought up a great point about the big "what if..." idea. If we live our lives always think "what if... [insert negative consequence here]" we'll always be held back. However, if we start thinking about "what if..." in a positive way, we can become brave enough (as you were) to jump into new experiences!

This is a great posting! I definitely felt the same way about my job a few years ago and it took me a looooong time to get up the nerve to quit. It was petrifying, yet exhilarating at the same time. It wasn't an easy decision, nor was it a decision I came to quickly - so I wish you the best on your road to change! Although I'm still in the middle of figuring out "my happy place," I'm definitely in a far more positive place :)
www.thequarterlifequest.com

SO sorry you had such an awful experience on your trip. :( But I'm so glad you wrote this post. I have friends and family who need to hear this message. Ultimately we are in charge of our own happiness and making the best out of a bad situation is the first step. Thanks, love!

Eran - Thanks! It's awesome to hear that you were in a similar spot and got up the nerve to quit. I know I can do it once I get a good plan in place. I'm glad to hear that you're in a positive place after making such a big change!

Carolyn - I'm glad you can see the positive here! Even though I had a bad experience, it brought me to write this post, which is actually something I've been needing to do for awhile. I hope you're able to share this with those in your life who might be in a similar situation and help them to see they're not alone. I know it's really helped me to hear from other people who commented and said they were in similar situations. Thanks for the comment!

I understand. I love this job the way that it used to be. But the higher that I got in the organization and the more BS that was added, the less it became the job that I was trained to do. So I'll be glad to retire from this job in 4 months. But I will miss the people a lot. Most have worked in my group for a long time. They are my friends.

Syd - It's definitely tough when you like the people but not what you're doing (as I do). Even though I'm sure you will miss the people at your job, it will be nice for you to retire soon!

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