I came across this on @mothersmeetings Instagram last week, yes ironic I know and thought it just so perfectly sums up the age we live in. It is also apt in illustrating one of the most damaging things I see in people staying in jobs that don’t fit them, careers and work environments that are often damaging their mental and physical health, detracting from their confidence, keeping them away from who and what they love. It is the increasingly prevalent habit of comparing ourselves to others. Greatly exasperated by social media.
How many times do we look at our friends news-feeds on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIN and feel they’re lives are so much better, more glamourous, more satisfying and really just MORE and BETTER than ours! Ultimately, what you put on your own social media, is just the highlights! It’s just the best bits, just a snap-shot. But, we forget that when we’re looking at everyone else’s pictures and believe what we see as the complete picture! It’s probably a 15 – 20% slice of their actual life!
Social media Detox
I’ve been free from Facebook for nearly 2 and a half years now and I will never go back! I found it all-consuming, who’s just had a baby, how many steps they took today, who’s on holidays (yes, those incredibly annoying constant updates of palm trees and cocktails). I found it difficult to not constantly check and the temptation to nose around other people’s photos, judge and absorb their, very often, fickle, superficial updates, began to leave me feeling empty and lackful. Of course, social media also encourages and breeds an attitude of ‘one-upmanship’ and ‘The Jones’ syndrome, which is incredibly toxic.
It took my iPhone getting pick-pocketed on the tube and living without a phone for a week or so, to realise the difference I felt. I felt free. I could hear myself think, the focus was much more on my life and living it. Not constantly recording it, checking in on who liked it and consuming other people’s content. An added benefit, is that I live my life and I share what I want with the people that matter most and in a personal way that’s very conscious and feels much more authentic.
I work with so many career coaching clients who are staying in jobs and careers that are damaging their health, are clearly not bringing out the best in them and taking much more than they give. The most common reason I hear for staying put, is the comparison of ‘well, if they can do it, surely, I SHOULD be able to?’ accompanied by the palpable fear of how they’ll look if the do something different or take a risk, compared to their ‘successful’ and ‘thriving’ friends and family.
It’s funny because, I completely get it! I have been there! What you are exposed to is what you class as ‘normal’. If everyone you know went to Oxford and is a high-flying lawyer or work in a traditional career where it’s standard to work 70 hour week, it does seem totally ‘abnormal’ to not want that, or even more so to imagine a dynamic, flexible way of working is possible. It’s just a different approach – but for many people, it seems impossible, it seems unreasonable. People believe so deeply that this one approach (whichever they’ve learnt from family, university, friends, industry), is the one way of living, is the only way and there’s something wrong with them, if it’s not working for them!
Comparing ourselves to others, focusing on what everyone else is doing, detracts the focus from ourselves and turns the volume down on our own inner voice!
EXERCISE: Costs & Gains
To help you get clearer on the reality of what a certain situation or behaviour is having on you – try listing out all the costs and gains to that situation. So for instance:
The Cost of staying in a job that isn’t right for me – might be, draining my energy so that I’m not even able to find a new more suitable direction or job etc. etc.
The Gain to staying in a job that isn’t right for me – might be, it’s easier in the short-term, it’s more comfortable in the short-term, as long as I stay, I don’t have to face my fear of the unknown etc. etc.
Finding what works for you!
Success in work and life is all about one thing – Suitability. Finding what works for you. That’s how our career coaching programmes work, no matter what the client’s needing help with. Finding your formula to thrive in life. Everyone has different needs, requires a different level of stimulation, has a different response and threshold for stress and getting crystal clear on that, is the foundation to a happy life.
Maybe many people in your company are struggling, but putting on a brave face and believe this is the only way. Maybe, many are dreaming of a work and lifestyle that complements them better as a person. Maybe, you’re not the only one? I can guarantee you are most definitely not! You may feel like the first one in your closer circle to think of living or working in a different way, but I can guarantee, in your extended social circle, work acquaintances or University buddies, there’s a handful of people who are taking a different path, look harder and you’ll find them.
TIP: Taking a day off from Facebook a week would make such a difference to your mental health in the long run. Why not take note of the difference, it will help you see the benefits.
NOTE: I’m not against social media, I love how it powerfully connects millions of people all around the globe, it makes my business possible and I am on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIN, so no stranger to it, but I keep it in it’s place and use it as a tool!
If you’re interested in discussing how we could work with you