“It caught me by surprise,” she said. “I didn’t see it coming,” he said. “I had a feeling but I never thought it would be so soon,” she said.
I‘ve been hearing this a lot recently. People calling me, some former clients, some new to me, sharing their anxiety about being let go or “another re-organization” that leaves them feeling disempowered and lost. The fact is that all the signs were there but they chose not to look at them. They chose to ignore the stress they felt at work, the fatigue they felt at home, and the disappointment they felt at not having the influence or impact at the work they once enjoyed.
Deep inside we have a small voice that we tend to ignore. It’s the voice of truth.
Maybe it shows up like an inkling, a whisper or a dream even. Sometimes it shows up as illness and fatigue or grouchiness towards our loved ones. In other situations it is much more direct manifesting as arguments with our boss or explosive disagreements among team members. We pass these off as having a bad day or a distraction but they are clues to what we know deep inside. It’s time to move on.
Everything is changing all the time. We behave as if things are the same even when they are not. We justify our actions and lack of attention to ourselves even as that small voice insists we pay attention. If we let it go on too long, we become ill. Our body cannot rationalize our feelings as well as our mind does. They become somatic, the body taking on the message that the mind is refusing.
There are clues to knowing when it’s time to move on, some subtle, some not so subtle.
You want to sleep late even though you enjoy getting up early. Your mornings are sluggish. You feel heavy even as you run around getting ready for your day.
You can no longer tell someone specifically what you love about your job. Your activities become a mesh of busyness without any apparent purpose.
You stop taking care of yourself. You no longer exercise or make time for friends. When you do have a day off, you may feel guilty about what might be waiting for you at work or you may worry about work related things.
You get grouchy with those around you. Resentment is quietly building and you do not have a healthy channel to express your frustration.
You may begin to feel sad or long to do things that you have always wanted to do but you don’t feel like there is enough time, money or energy to do them.
At work you feel begin to feel dismissed and sometimes even disrespected. You start feeling disconnected from the projects or work you are doing.
Despite having successes and results you no longer feel accomplished or feel joy at meeting challenges.
You begin to look for shortcuts when before you always went the extra mile.
There is a pervasive anxiety in your environment as if everyone is waiting for some impending event to turn everything upside down. This is particularly true when rumors of re-organizations begin to circulate.
You notice that your values do not align with the values of your organization or the values that the organization actually lives by. This causes guilt and a lack of personal integrity in your communications with others.
You lose trust in your manager, in the leadership of the organization and in your fellow workers. This is a particularly egregious situation because without trust nothing positive can occur.
You start thinking of other occupations and work environments you may enjoy. Perhaps you begin to compare your environment with the work someone you know does in another organization.
These are all indicators that it’s time to take charge of your career and life and actively seek out work that meets your values and your criteria for a fulfilling life. Before the pink slip hits or you are told that you have been moved to another area of the organization, there is an opportunity to evaluate, recalibrate and choose your next step.
I have several clients who are in this kind of transition. Some came at the beginning before inadequate managers had eroded their self-confidence; others came after the announcement of a re-organization or the delivery of the pink slip. In all cases, I recommend that they take quiet time to pull back and reflect on what truly matters to them so they can intentionally choose how to move forward. This time for rest and reflection renews their psychic energy so that when they begin to interview they come across positive and energized instead of depleted and resentful.
The coaching process entails a process of self-inquiry that moves in tandem with the practical aspects of finding a new position. The period of reflection has helped them develop the criteria for their new position so they can make the best choice for a new career or position.
If you are experiencing any of these feelings you may be ready for a change but that explicit awareness may not have caught up with your intellectual process.
Pay attention to your feelings and moods as well as to the activities in the environment around you.
Talk these out with a coach so you can build clarity around what is happening and how you can leverage this time of transition to make new, healthy choices about your life and your work.
Life is too short to waste on doing things that cause you more stress and dissonance.
Listen to that inner voice; it’s the voice of your wisdom speaking to you.