The other day a friend told me that she’d recently had the horrible realization that we have nothing left to work towards – that there is now no quantifiable end goal to the rest of our working lives. At school, we were working towards our exams that would hopefully get us into university. At university, we were working towards our 2:1 that would hopefully get us that job in the city. Now we are all in those jobs, realising that perhaps the 9-5, living for the weekend, London life is not quite all it’s cracked up to be and desperately wondering “What next?”
In my most recent job, I started with plenty of enthusiasm. I moved to work in the charity sector and I had this wonderful feeling that what I was doing was in some indirect way going to change people’s lives for the better. As the mundane tasks of daily office life kicked in, I started to feel like what I was doing was actually quite pointless. I realized that this charity was a huge corporation. That although the charity did amazing work, the ineffective way in which it was run made my role feel more than insignificant.
More than this, I noticed how many of my colleagues seemed dissatisfied, all of us were constantly waiting for our lunch break, the end of the day, the weekend and planning our next holidays. Many people told me I should stick it out until the end of my contract. I heard that often quoted advice that I should stay at the company for at least a year, but I was unhappy and just did not want to settle for this.
Well, the beauty of being 26, with no children and no mortgage, is that we do not have to settle. I once read a Cosmopolitan article about a high flying lawyer from New York who gave up everything she had to go and sell ice cream on the Caribbean Island of St John. I remember being astonished and thinking, “Well, that’s lovely… but a bit ridiculous”. But why is it ridiculous? If you feel dissatisfied with your life, constantly crave a holiday, and wondering if this is all there is to it, then make a change.
We might not have any specific goals or exams to work towards anymore, but success is not a finish line that you cross. I did not save up enough money for a deposit on a house and think “Ah yes… This is what success feels like”. In fact, I looked at the tiny flats I could afford in London and felt nothing but disappointment and constriction. For me, I am starting to realize that my success can only be measured by my happiness.
So evaluate what makes you happy. And if it’s not your 9-5 office job in the city, then pack it in. Hell! Sell all your belongings and move to a Caribbean Island. Life’s for living – and you only get one shot!