You know when things are fine? Not in the passive-aggressive way when we say things are fine, and they’re clearly not. I mean when things are actually (mostly, almost) good. Like, can’t-complain, everything’s-good-on-paper, everyone’s-employed-and-has-
I call this the Chokehold of Mediocrity: the place where things are just good enough that you’re nervous to change them, but not so good because you feel antsy in your own life. The place where things are good enough that you can’t complain, but you still feel like complaining. The place where things could be better, but they could also be worse, so do you really want to risk it?
The thing about mediocrity that no one talks about is that it’s hard work to maintain a life you feel only so-so about. It’s hard for several reasons.
One, it takes energy to wake up every day and work. It takes energy to interact with people all day long, to travel from place to place, to be a parent, to feed yourself and/or other people, to stay positive, and to try to work in a little self-care so you can continue to do all these things. All of this requires a good deal of energy. However, it takes almost the exact same amount of energy to convince yourself you’re okay with all the things you encounter on a daily basis as it does to actually do them.
What? That can’t be right.
And maybe it’s not (even if there were actual math to do here, I would probably get it wrong #whyiwrite). But it’s hard work to pretend you’re grateful to have a job just because it’s a job and so many people don’t have jobs. It’s hard work to spend hours a day on things you used to find interesting, but now bore you. It’s hard work to do all this and then get in a gym session, or read a few pages of your book, or watch some Netflix because you need to shut off your brain. After all, that brain has been working hard all day, talking you into your life.
It’s hard work to pretend like you care. And that’s something that the DGAF life has given us. It’s not that people actually don’t care, it’s that they care so much more about doing things they want to, rather than what they should do. It’s why self-care is so necessary. We spend so much time separated from ourselves that we need the time to re-connect and put ourselves back together.
If most of your energy is focused on just on maintaining the status quo, and you’re not even that excited about the status quo, that’s a lot. If you want things to change on top of that, that’s even more energy you’ll need to come up with.
It’s okay to be grateful for what you have and still want things to be different. It’s okay to have a perfectly fine job, and still want another job. Sure it’s scary to think about putting yourself in a new environment. What if you do all this work to change and you still don’t like the work? What if you meet all these new people and you still don’t like them? What if you have to make less money? These are all questions you will definitely have to answer.
So, you could do three things:
1. Do Nothing: Stay at the job until you hate it. Stay at the job until you become so bored and annoyed, you get a clearer picture about leaving. Or, stay at the job and continue to feel blasé about it. You don’t have to think. You just roll up to work and get a paycheck. It’s not that hard, and you’re mostly fine with it. Continue to do this because you don’t want or need that kind of stress in your life. Totally fine.
1a. Do Nothing and Hope You Start Liking Your Job More: Stay at your job until you love it. This could happen. It might be a long shot, but it happens. Maybe you’ll get promoted. Maybe you’ll make more money. That’s always great. Stay and see how if these things happen for you.
2. Do Everything: Quit your job. Find a new job. Start a business. Be as radical as possible. Burn it all down.
3. Do Something: Start looking. Ask your friend whose job you’ve always been curious about what their day-to-day is like. Ask them what they wish they had known before they started their job. Ask them how they got their job.
Real talk for a minute: the answer is usually somewhere in number three. Whether it’s creating a new situation for yourself entirely, or shifting your perspective while everything remains the same, doing something other than exactly what you’re doing always seems to shift something.
It’s okay to be grateful for what you have and still want things to be different.
For you, it might look like leaving your job exactly at 5pm because it should only get so much of your time and energy. It might mean looking for, or applying to, one job per week to start generating some momentum without totally overwhelming yourself. Maybe start a side hustle with a friend. Create a standing dinner date with your best friend. Enlist some help in moving yourself out of this situation. Remove one thing that depletes you and replace it with something that energizes you.
The thing to remember is that you are the Decider. It doesn’t even matter what you decide, just make sure you are doing it because you make the decisions, and you made this one. You are the one who decided that this was how your life would be, your life didn’t decided for you by default. If something doesn’t turn out the way you wanted it to, it doesn’t mean you chose wrong. It means you have more information to use for your next decision. Just decide on something. Make the next best decision you can. And trust you can handle whatever comes up.
SARA KRAVITZ helps people realize it’s not too late to figure out what you want and, even better, to be able to do something about it. She understands how frustrating it can be to want to work hard and feel fulfilled, but not have a clue where to begin. As a life and career coach, she loves helping people understand (but, like, really understand) that this doesn’t have to be life. You can climb out of every hole. It might be awkward and uncomfortable at times (in fact, you can probably guarantee it will be), but there’s always a solution. (Even for you.)
She is also the author of the international, bestselling book Just Tell Me What I Want. You can download her book for free here.