I remember that sinking feeling of returning to the office last January after a relaxing two weeks of fun, food, family and festive gifts, and just wanting to cry.
It was like putting on a mask, where I had to leave the 'real' me at home and go back to the old 'work' me again. But that was normality back then, I thought that was just what everyone did. You got to have your few days of freedom and fun each December, and then you had to put that to one side and get back in the rat race, because that's just what everyone did.
Now a year on, I can see exactly why I felt so misaligned between 'real' me and 'work' me. Taking time off had allowed me to explore and live out some of the values which were most important to me, such as freedom, connection and discovery. But at the time I had no idea what my values really were, and why it was SO important that I find a new career which was more closely aligned with them.
So if you're feeling unhappy at work and missing those festive days of freedom, then take 10 minutes to really think about which experiences you miss most from that time:
- Was it the chance to spend more quality time with your loved ones?
- Was it that you got to do something new and different each day?
- Or did you love the fact that you could set your own hours and do what you wanted without being answerable to your boss?
List them out and think about what values they might represent. Visiting friends and family might show that you have a strong value for community. Enjoying having more time to read and watch films might reflect values of learning and inspiration.
As you dig a bit deeper into which aspects you miss and what values they represent, you can also think about how to bring more of them into your daily life now. How could you introduce, for example, a bit more adventure, creativity or fun into your daily life and work?
The reason why we need to know what our values are, is that they give us a compass to live by, and provide greater clarity and focus. Everyone has their own unique set of values, and they can also change over time, so what really mattered to us at 21 might not be so important at 41.
If you are struggling to make a decision, or feel uncomfortable with a particular situation or job, it's likely to be because there is a conflict of values present. Which is why it's crucial to keep checking in with yourself, and looking at ways to change any situation that makes you unhappy, to bring it more in line with your values.
Remember, you don't have to keep waiting to live your best and most authentic life. You can get started today.