Sunday, 1 March 2015

How to unplug from corporate life – sanely

By Bridie Walsh via Feeling Purpose

Call me a slow learner, but when my fantasies about work appeared more like horror movies than a fairy tale I eventually learnt to recognise it was a sign to unplug from my job and re-evaluate. This, of course, is easier said than done.
The list of reasons to stay can appear to outweigh the options to go – especially when you take money, expectations and risk into account.
Fear not! You can do something about it. In fact, you should.
I’ve found that most of us have a healthy dependency on a good work life. Firstly, a job gives us a wage. A wage means paid rent, money for bills, savings, presents for family at Christmas and better yet, money for fun (espresso martinis with friends).

It ain’t about the money

You’ve heard about Abraham Maslow’s theory of needs, right? He’s the psychologist who, in 1954, wrote Motivation and Personality, charting a hierarchy of human needs that start with our physiological needs and then safety, love and belonging, esteem and finally self-actualisation.
Topping the list of absolute necessities is breathing, eating, copulating, sleeping, excreting and second is safety – yes safety. Sometimes feeling safe is having financial security. At the very least, it is having food on the table and your rent or mortgage and bills paid.
I’ve never seen myself as someone who chased a dollar their entire career. Work wasn’t about money for me, it was about meaning and purpose. Looking back, it was always the money concern that held me back. I wasn’t being entirely unreasonable in my caution (although I was a little bit of a scaredy cat).
Jumping ship from a job that is driving you crazy might make you feel good for about five seconds (ok, it could last a few weeks). Then, with the reality of everyday expenses accruing faster than the likes on a Miley Cyrus clip gone viral, that feeling of relief from escaping something you felt trapped in could turn into another prison of your own making.
Here are some tips that helped me plan my work transition:
  1. Put money aside
  2. Look at how you can reduce your expenses
  3. Create a budget, and follow it
  4. Have a plan (I mean a life plan that involves what makes your heart sing)

Accept only the best

Unplugging from corporate life or a job you’ve been dedicated to is risky – and speaking from experience, there will be a lot of emotions, fears, anxieties and hope. The obvious dilemma will be once you leap, what next?
It’s tempting to take the first job opportunity that comes your way, but it may not be the right one.
That’s why a plan is so important. This doesn’t mean having it all figured out before you leap, that’s just impossible. But it does mean thinking through who you are and where you want to be in life.
When I was unhappy, I asked myself – how did I get here? It’s a good question to ask.
I sought advice and was directed to write down the factors led me to take that role, and then what led me to stay. It taught me a lot about the inner beliefs or needs I had that contributed to my apparent competing desires – ‘should I stay or should I go’?
Clearly the choices I made led me to where I was today. It meant I could as easily direct myself to where I really wanted to be. I just needed some tools to help get me there.
In your plan, make sure you have listed your ideal work and life scenario as well. Take time to understand why this is attractive to you. Then work out the steps to get there.
Knowing what is really important to you, and the activities you need to be involved in to feel fully alive will help you resist taking on the first opportunity that comes by (for a sense of security) and continue to pursue the right opportunities (for a sense of purpose).

Be true to yourself

“Know thy self” – an ancient saying rooted in the philosophies of those big thinkers, the Greek philosophers, and inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi – is a maxim to live by.
If I’ve learnt anything in my effort to redirect my career, it’s discovering the need to know yourself. After all, the one person you can never escape is you.
It’s a curious thing that we don’t arrive into this world with a fully annotated manual about who we are, what drives us, what our life purpose is (or should be), and then how to go about living out our best life.
I share this maxim “know thyself” knowing it comes with a warning. To know thyself must be a conscious process.
Professor of psychology, philosophy and anthropology at the University of California Irvine, Dr Robert Walsh (no relation of mine), says if we are not conscious about who we are and what is important to us at a core values level we could fall out of step with our personal ethics.
I’m quite sure my horror show work fantasies are a prime example of being out of step with my personal ethics. My feelings were betraying that my ethics and my actions weren’t aligned.
Walsh indicates that when we are out of step with our ethics we suffer ‘cloudy’ mind, where things seem a little confusing and it is harder to differentiate what is true. He speaks about evidence that unconscious guilt can have physiological symptoms like stress and anxiety.
What can we learn from this wisdom? Take time out to focus on you. It’s important in finding a path that resonates with who you are, what is important to you and will ultimately bring you what you need.
The signs on your path might very well be screaming at you – unplug from your corporate life. I’m here to encourage you – plan well and go for it!
(We just gotta get the world right, forget about the price tag oh, yeah, kachang kachang, bubang bubang.)
This article was first published by Feeling Purpose,

Bridie Walsh is a writer and communications consultant who believes storytelling plays an important role in supporting people to live the lives they choose. Her photos and stories capture the heart and soul of people. Follow Bridie @BridieLee or visit her website.

1 comment:

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