Make a Plan, Make Peace With Your Life: Rachel’s Response To Ryan

by Rachel Collis

Ryan, many of the people we work with at The Career Psychologist are in exactly the situation you describe. They feel stuck in a job they hate. They have also often made a number of career decisions that have turned out badly and have lost trust in their capacity to make wise career decisions.

It is even harder when those career decisions impact on the people you love.

This conflict between your desire to support your family and your need for a fulfilling career is painful. It also means that you need to be very strategic in developing your plan for the next step in your career. So that the next move is more likely to be successful. There are lots of resources on this site to help you think about how to move forwards with care, and of course Rob’s last post was written from precisely this perspective. However, it is likely to take some time to come to a wise decision.

Whilst you are working out your best next step, you will probably have to continue to do something hard (a job you hate) because you love your family. It may be that you have to do this for a number of years. There is a practical risk in this. It would be easy to become irritable with your family and cranky and disinterested with colleagues at work. If this happens, you lose twice. Not only are you spending part of your life doing work you hate, you also aren’t being the person you want to be.

If your sacrifice isn’t to be wasted, then you need to do two things at the same time. Firstly, you need to develop a sound strategy for improving your work situation in the long term. Secondly, at the very same time, you need to make peace with your life as it is in this moment. So that you can then show up as the person you want to be with the people who matter to you.

Professor Kelly Wilson (one of the originators of ACT) wrote a post about the challenge of making peace with life as it is rather than as you want it to be, here is what he said:

“We humans are always bumming out because we are not enough or because we do not have enough. We think enough is a thing and if we can just get that thing “enough” then we will finally be OK.

But notice how elusive “enough” is. Notice how many things we have chased in our lives thinking… “Once I get this! Then I will be OK. But as soon as we get “this” it turns out that we need the next thing and the next thing…endlessly. Always in the midst of too much and not enough.

And if all that were not enough, we have a world full of people out there telling us what we ought to have. Things that promise to make us or to give us… enough!

Here is the good news.

Enough can be a verb. Human beings, through the amazing miracle of verbal behavior can achieve a state of perfect enoughness by declaration. They can “enough” the very moment they are inhabiting.

That moment, where you declare peace with the moment you are, in is a moment of freedom; of liberation, where you can choose.

No “have to” no “must”.

Albert Camus’s brilliant retelling of The Myth of Sisyphus is an example of how to declare peace with the moment you are in.

Sisyphus was punished by the gods for some slight. The gods gave him what they assumed would be the ultimate punishment. Sisyphus would be condemned to an eternity in which he would push a stone of such enormity up a mountain, requiring every ounce of his strength. But, upon reaching the top, the stone would roll again to the bottom, and, up he would go again.

But Sisyphus beats the gods. How? He claims his own fate. He decided that the rock is his to push. He says ‘Yes’ to the task. He embraces it.”

All Sisyphussilent joy is contained therein. His fate belongs to him.”

 I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds ones burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe, henceforth without a master, seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that nightfilled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a mans heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”

Albert Camus

Ryan, I think this is the question you are confronting. Can you give energy to improving your work situation in the long term whilst also making peace with your life as it is in this moment? Can you decide, like Sisyphus, that this moment, as difficult as it is, is enough?

And, from that stance, can you also repeatedly try to show up as the best father, partner and work colleague that you can?

In this very moment, will you accept the sad and the sweet, hold lightly stories about what is possible, and be the author of a life that has meaning and purpose for you, turning in kindness back to that life when you find yourself moving away from it?’

Kelly Wilson

 

For more on Kelly Wilson’s work, take a look at this website:  http://onelifellc.com/

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