No one, whether a boomer, millennial, or Gen Z, has been spared the disruption of the pandemic. The experience has inspired self-reflection and life adjustments on the part of many Americans.
A case in point: “The Great Resignation.” Millions of Americans have left jobs, adjusted career paths, or stepped out of the workforce entirely. 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021 alone, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For anyone who may be thinking about joining them, one question might be how to find greater happiness and fulfillment in the process. The following tips may help.
- Acknowledge anxiety and reframe negative thoughts. The fact that many people are changing their work and life paths in response to the pandemic is very interesting from a psychological perspective.
Often, the loss of a job can be anxiety-producing. This anxiety is often a natural response in times of uncertainty. In addition to emotions like fear and dread, there can be the thoughts: “What will I do?” “How will I support myself?” “Will I never be able to get another job again?”
If similar thoughts come to mind when resigning from a job, it may be helpful to consider that with so many people re-evaluating their workplaces, career choices, and the future, a job resignation might not be so scary after all. It might even be freeing. Doing something that challenges and stretches you can be liberating and open up improved quality of life.
- Prioritize your time and how you want to spend it. It is said that time is the most precious commodity. Time also cannot be saved up: It must be spent as it is earned, and there is no guarantee when the account will go to zero. This reality becomes especially clear when tragedy strikes. A natural disaster. The loss of a loved one. A societal crisis like COVID. These things can be opportunities for self-reflection and to re-evaluate one’s direction in life.
The same can be true with quitting a job. It can be a process of becoming more self-aware, getting out of autopilot mode, and taking stock of one’s life. This may lead down an entirely new path toward a very different destination, one that is happier and more fulfilling.
- Take stock of where you are on your journey and your desired destination. Leaving a job can be a chance to decide where you want to go, much like a long road trip. On a road trip, it helps to have a sense of direction. The mechanics of getting there are also important. One needs to know where to turn off and merge with other traffic, where to stop off and take a food or bathroom break, and how to pace the drive.
When taking stock of your personal journey, consider your quality of life. How well does a job or potential career align with the quality of life that you desire?
A survey of employees cited in an article in Inc. noted that employees are “restless,” with 54 percent of the survey sample saying they were looking for something new. The crux of the insight was that people are seeking a satisfying career path and want to know where they are going.
By quitting a job, one is saying “no” to the old and “yes” to something new. Consider what new something you may be seeking.
- Be realistic. Nobody’s first job is going to be Chairman of the Board of a Fortune 500 company. When considering what factors will be necessary to career movement and success, be realistic about your skills, age, experience, and innovative bent. Simply taking stock is itself a way to deeper fulfillment and self-growth.
It has been said that happiness is not the destination but the journey. Taking time to look at the map and plan the logistics of the trip, based on new information, is good. Similarly, choosing to identify and consciously make the type of changes that might improve quality of life can be transforming.
Take the time to look at your work, reflect on your aspirations, or maybe seek out a mentor or coach to help. Whatever may come of the effort, the simple act of “touching base” with oneself may lead to new open doors.
Dr. Beau A. Nelson, DBH, LCSW, is Chief Clinical Officer at the national behavioral health provider FHE Health.