Every night for the past several weeks I’ve spent an hour or two with a tight chest, gripped by anxiety. Anxiety over completely uprooting my life. Anxiety over the idea of taking the job, anxiety over not taking the job.
This Dear Cary column spoke to me as it addresses indecision, fear, loneliness, change, and what constitutes a meaningful life:
At all costs, preserve the basic outlines of your basically happy life.
There will be moments when you are lonely. You will have moments of dissatisfaction. Accept these.
Part of your challenge is spiritual. Part is philosophical. It involves accepting the moment-to-moment phenomena of your own consciousness. Out in the country it is hard to distract yourself from your own thoughts. That is basically a good thing but it is not amusing. There will be times when nothing is amusing. At such times, ask what is going on. What hunger is at work? What dissatisfaction is at the edge, gnawing? Just inquiring will help. If you know what it is, you can live with it. If you don’t know what it is, you may misinterpret it and set off to satisfy it when it is in fact something else. It may be loneliness or sadness. It may be your baseline existential awareness that life is fleeting and mysterious. It may be pensiveness or it may be dread or sadness from some emotional loss that can’t be helped. It may be a hormonal fluctuation. It may be the natural tiredness that comes with increasing age.
And remember: You are not just doing this for yourself. You are, in fact, creating a way of living that others can follow. As more of us realize that our lives are not happy or sustainable, more of us will turn to people like you and ask, How do you do it? What are the pitfalls? How do you get laid?
Have you considered hiring a lifecoach? I know, not an inexpensive suggestion but I think you could benefit from some one-on-one coaching. Perhaps you could pick one goal either personal or professional and totally focus on that goal alone. Sometimes in our professional life it is hard to decide do we do what we love or do we do what we are good at? A good lifecoach can help you answer those questions.
Are you familiar with Penelope Trunk?
http://www.penelopetrunk.com I am not endorsing everything she says (read the blog and you’ll see why) but she does have good insights on how our personality influences our work and career choices.
Also, I like Cal Nweport’s blog as well.
He approaches these issues from a slightly different perspective. my impression from reading your blog but not knowing you IRL is that you are stuck for lack of a better word. I think you need to narrow your focus to the MOST IMPORTANT thing whatever that may be for you personally. That’s a tough thing to do because every choice eliminates something else. I deal with this all the time and it never gets any easier. I want to do it ALL but that would take multiple lifetimes . In general, I think going deep in one or two areas is ultimately more rewarding than being a dabbler.
Thanks for writing. I certainly have a lot of job-related issues to sort out. If jobs were easy to come by, I could just dive into something and try it out, but since they aren’t, people expect you to be very goal-oriented and driven towards a certain path. The thing is — I just don’t like working full-time all that much, so what I would like is less-than-full-time and co-workers that I like. But I don’t know if I could survive on that, and I’m afraid there’s competition for even the low-paying jobs here.
I love this post. I really do believe that sometimes anxiety seems to be about one thing when really it’s about another, or multiple issues. I myself am waiting to start a new job, and I’m looking forward to it but the uncertainty about the future is making me anxious. It’s important to try to be skeptical about sources of anxiety and take a multifaceted approach to addressing it since sometimes only one source of it is discernible to one’s consciousness.