In an economy that is being called the worst since the Great Depression, I have changed my job.


I felt like I woke up each day to put my life on hold while accepting a bribe to stare blankly at a computer or to do work at the whim of a supervisor. Holding back my passion and enthusiasm, I lasted a year and a half in my first post-college job, and six months at the second. Intuition told me that I wouldn’t make it to my six-month anniversary in another desk job, so I finally chose to follow the whispers of longing in my heart. I have become almost more familiar with the fear of change as well as the terror of having no idea what lies ahead than I am with a steady paycheck.

Speaking from experience, if you want to leave a job you hate I suggest you make a game plan and write it down.

Now throw the plan away.

In the short term it may not be possible to make a career change, and there are a number of ways that you can start enjoying yourself more at work while you plan for the inevitable job and/or career change. I highly recommend the blog post, “12 Kickass Ways To Love Your Job and Your Life”, written by social entrepreneur, Arvind Devalia, which offers solutions and provides perspective to bring more joy to your current situation.

Or to at least make the misery not quite so bad.

For regardless of how much you read, plan and consult, happiness is not likely to align with your chronological, biological, professional, and societal agendas. It might not align with your fiscal agenda either, but by the time you are happy you may find the other agendas less pressing. There is overwhelming scientific and anecdotal evidence that fame and fortune contribute to happiness only to a point.

Your salary affords you your basic needs, and that last promotion bought you your dream house, but thanks to the Law of Diminishing Returns, your quality of life increases per dollar earned at a steadily decreasing rate. Eventually, even as you earn more and more money, your happiness stops increasing at all. You apply yourself more and become more disciplined; I just need to earn a little bit more to buy x and y, and THEN I’ll be fulfilled, you say.  But at this zero-happiness-increase point you still feel something is missing because the new purchases only fill the void momentarily.

The truth is, something is missing. The billions and trillions of dollars in the world were unsuccessful in bringing satiety, even temporarily, to the enormous emptiness that lies inside you. It is okay to choose to be distracted from the emptiness for the rest of your life by shiny new gadgets surrounding us, for in the face of familiarity and knowing, daunting is the darkness and turmoil of not knowing what lies ahead and relying solely on the enormous space within you.

But I am here to tell you, do not fear the emptiness. This is where the first inklings of true success start to grow, for creation is only formed out of this rich, dark emptiness.The blog Zen Habits writes about The No. 1 Habit of Highly Creative People by questioning known creatives about the habits that they consider important to their creativity.

The habit that stood out the most was the need for solitude.Creativity needs to have space to flourish where there is no threat of cell phones, traffic lights, or holiday sales to momentarily distract. Chock full of mental calculations and physical reactions, a logical plan keeps the mind in charge, but the unknown- having no plan at all- forces the mind to let go; emotions rise in a space where there is no logical analysis to quench them, where a passionate fire awaits to spark the genius.

In my last job, I experienced overwhelming feelings of frustration and betrayal; fear and anger grew as I felt the time for change grow nearer. It took me long months of staying indoors and avoiding the mirror before I learned to appreciate my anger instead of to suppress it. And then, armed with my passion but faced with an unknown future, I felt lost. I am still learning to embrace feeling blind and lost. In my efforts to overcome the feelings of failure and fear, I can see that I’ve been trying to force the creative Me out in the same manner that I would pop a zit.

Tama Kieves, author and speaker, says about creativity, “Your relationship with yourself determines the quality of love and joy that shines in your work. Severity will cause creativity to flee; you must live in your joy for creativity to thrive- through compassion and self-care.”Self-kindness and respect will do more good than the negative alternatives.

It is of utmost importance that the agenda for happiness be the highest priority instead of the lowest one.

Eventually, I will stop crying and throwing my tantrums of hopelessness and rage, screaming at the unfairness of it all. Eventually, I will tire and finally relax into the fear/anger/sadness, and then that too will pass. Anger is only an emotion; it is not bad or good. When unleashed in the spirit of compassion, the anger provides a fire for creation. It provides a spark in the darkness where fear and guilt have no place.

To summarize:

  • Ultimately, fulfillment comes from creating, not from regurgitating and manipulating
  • Creativity needs space to grow
  • It needs passion to ignite
  • It needs nurturing through compassion and self-care.

Dreams, intuition, imagination, and creativity are the pathways to understanding the chaos and embracing it. Transcribed by Tom Kenyon, the Hathors say that “following your deepest sense of joy will lead you to be in the places where you will most likely survive”. Your passion will always light the way. It doesn’t matter that you cannot see what lies ahead. Nurture yourself and you nurture your dreams.

Related: 6 Simple Steps to Be Happier at Work.

Author: Jill Yotz is a freelance writer and entrepreneur, based out of Seattle with a degree in Economics from the University of Washington. She focuses on how creativity and entrepreneurship work together to build networks and develop lasting and meaningful business ideas. Learn more about the intersections of creativity and entrepreneurship on her blog and on Twitter @jillyotz.

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