Ever dreamt of leaving your dull day job to pursue what truly motivates you? Well, that’s exactly what millions of Americans are doing right now in what’s been dubbed ‘The Great Resignation’.
And now the phenomenon is hitting Australian shores, as local workers from retail staff to corporate executives are resigning from their jobs to live more meaningful lives. The trend has been prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic as workers realise life is too short to stay in a job they don’t enjoy.
Among those Australians quitting their jobs to find greater purpose is Sydney resident Hannah Moore. When her employer made heavy job cuts at the height of the pandemic, Moore, who works in corporate retail, started to rethink her career.
“I was in a job where they didn’t appreciate me, and I realised that’s not who I want to align with,” she says. “I asked myself, ‘why am I settling for this?’. It made me realise I wanted more from my workplace.”
Moore said she had been feeling unfulfilled prior to COVID-19, but the pandemic had made her realise that life was short, and she didn’t want to waste it working for a company that didn’t give her a sense of purpose.
“I am very goal-driven, and I have a good network of friends and go to the gym,” Moore said. “I had a really well-paying job, but there was part of me that thought, ‘is this it?’. Every day felt mundane and the same. I was in a rut.”
It was a sentiment shared by Perth resident Nelson Escobar, who has a wife and two kids and also recently resigned from a job he didn’t enjoy.
“I was struggling to find purpose, and I was just going through the daily motions,” Escobar said. “I was dedicating a lot of my time to work, which I wasn’t enjoying, and then I’d have no energy or time to spend with my family when I got home.”
The pandemic forced Escobar and Moore to reassess their common beliefs about the way life ‘should’ be, both personally and professionally.
And if that’s the case for you, too, and you’re considering marching over to your boss’s desk to tell them you’re quitting, before you do, Michael Puhle, founder of Candour Coaching and personal coaching and development course EightWeekLifeHack.com, suggests trying these three things.
Uncover Your Core Values
“Our personal and professional values give us clarity on who we want to be, and when we live those values, we feel a sense of fulfilment and purpose,” says Puhle. Which seems simple enough in theory, but uncovering them is often quite daunting, he adds.
Values are the beliefs or fundamental lens through which you see and experience the world, he explains. In that case, we are looking for the broader, abstract words that describe the scenario. Things like adventurous, creative, fun, disciplined, etc.
To help determine your values, Puhle suggests starting with where you are and taking a look around at your environment and the people you surround yourself with. Ask yourself what words or descriptors come to mind that would lend themselves to being your values?
Other questions you can ask ourselves are things like: What traits do you admire in people? What books do you enjoy reading? What social accounts do you follow? When your mind wanders, what do you find yourself thinking about?
“Understanding our values can be the first step to living a more fulfilling life because it allows us to attract more of what we value into our world,” Puhle says.
Find an Employer With Aligned Values
The place where we spend most of our time and thus impacts us dramatically by how aligned or misaligned it is with our values is our workplace, says Puhle.
So, for that reason, you’ll want to find an employer that aligns with them, whether that be your current employer or a new one.
“When we know our values, we can find an employer who shares similar values as they will be able to support you in these areas,” he says.
For example, if one of your values is ‘family’, what initiatives does the employer offer to support you in this area? Do they have flexible working, such as working from home or alternative hours? Will they be supportive if you leave work early to attend your children’s sporting carnival?
Puhle warns, however, that finding these employers can take much more effort and research than just looking at the values listed on their websites.
“It’s about witnessing the values lived in their day-to-day interactions, not just what is being said,” he says. “Speak to current employees, see if there is anyone in your network that knows what it is like to work there. Though it takes a bit of a gut check to get this right, usually your intuition will tell you quite quickly whether it’s the right fit.”
Do One Thing Each Day That Relates to Your Values
And, finally, before you resign, do one thing every day in your personal life that relates to each of your values, says Puhle. For example, for family, FaceTime a sibling. For health, cook a healthy dinner. For education, read a book instead of scrolling social media.
“Often, when we find ourselves feeling a bit out of whack, it’s because we’ve been so focused on one task or one aspect of our life and we’ve forgotten to spend time touching base with all the values that make us who we are,” he says.
When we are more aware of what those values are, we can actively bring more fulfilment and joy into our lives through consciously living those values.
These days, Moore has found a new job with an employer who aligns with her values. She says that though it was scary resigning, she hasn’t looked back since.
“It was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders,” she said. “If you are unhappy or unfulfilled, nothing will happen if you don’t take the first step. Even if it’s writing something down or calling someone, the key is to take action.”
It can be that simple, says Puhle.
“Don’t stop after you’ve uncovered your values. Take action to find a life that fills your time with your values, and the things that you love to do.”