Note: This post originally appeared April 14, 2011. I think that it bears repeating, for those who are successful but feeling a little bit antsy at the same time.
Is it Just Me, or is it Everyone Else?
Have you ever experienced one of those moments when you thought, “Am I nuts or is it really everyone else?” I remember such a moment in my previous career. It was my 8th or 9th weekend of business travel in a row to attend a marathon meeting in a windowless room, sharing opinions about what was wrong with the healthcare system (or rather, our small segment of it) and not really solving anything – at all. On this particular day, in this particular meeting, a professional facilitator was trying to get multiple groups with diverse interests to decide whether they wanted to form a new group (a coalition of sorts). One participant dominated the discussion, talking in circles and never coming to a point. At the end of the day, it seemed there wasn’t a clear reason or mission for this new group, but a persistent few people felt like it was still a good idea so after six or eight hours of mind-numbing discussion, they scheduled another meeting! Was I the only person in the room who felt like I would explode right there? That was the day I began evaluating my career path in earnest.
Do you relate? Are there moments when it seems everyone around you is fine with the status quo except you? Maybe you were once fine doing what you are doing but have outgrown it, or maybe it was never a good fit in the first place. But even if you know that, it is sometimes difficult to move forward because that nagging inner voice says things like, “I just need a better attitude,” “I should just be glad I have a job,” “Don’t be a whiner,” “Nothing else would be better, even if I tried.” The end result is that you spend a lot of time with flip-flopping thoughts about “what’s next” followed by even more indecision.
While these might be regarded as symptoms of burnout, I think it’s also part of something bigger: Erosion of your identity. When your identity is eroding, you have that constant feeling of flip-flopping and indecision. When your identity is strong, you feel focused and make decisions easily.
What exactly is identity? My personal definition is that identity means knowing who you are and getting to express it in positive, healthy ways. You know your needs and get them met; you know your best talents and skills and get to use them fully; you have healthy, nurturing relationships; you can balance work and play and are lighthearted and fulfilled. You don’t need more control because you don’t feel out of control.
So how do you know you need an identity re-boot versus just more sleep or an easier schedule? Take this quiz and find out:
- Has this feeling of “Am I crazy or is everyone else?” persisted for a long time, say, a year or more?
- Do you often feel tired in the morning, even after a good night’s sleep?
- Do you feel unfocused much of the time?
- Are you fully engaged and present wherever you are, or do you spend a lot of time thinking about the future and how you would change it?
- Be honest here. Do you often feel like everyone around you (excluding loved ones, of course) is incompetent or weird?
If you answered yes to two or more of these questions, I would suggest you need some re-tooling. That may mean an attitude adjustment or something bigger like a career move. It may involve some deeper work around your core values and what you want your life to be about. I want to help you focus on what is really going on and look at some healthy adjustments you can make. I invite you to call or text me, 972-333-5932, for a complimentary consultation to see if you could benefit from hiring me as your coach.
And by the way, after a few more years of my own re-tooling, I concluded that it really was partly me and partly everyone else! No, they weren’t crazy, but I no longer could devote my energies to the same things in the same ways that they did. It was time for me to move forward to something that fit my own identity. So call me. I’d like to help!