How To Beat Career Anxiety

Tip #141: Look at if you enjoy the outcomes, not the process.

The Why: When at work we can often sit and wonder “what am I doing with my life?”, “is this the right thing for me?”, “do I even like this job?”

The commonplace occurrence of these thoughts can cause serious anxiety. We constantly overanalyse and worry about whether we’re wasting our lives doing something we hate, or whether this is the right path for us. It’s unsurprising given that we’re constantly bombarded with pictures of mountains or sunsets overlapped by motivational text saying “follow your passion”, “live your dreams”, “do what you love”.

There’s so much pressure to do it all, and do it now.

But life doesn’t always allow for such beautiful simplicity. Sometimes we have responsibilities, families, bills to pay. We can’t just up and leave our secure job to pursue a dream of living in a flowery field with 1,000 dogs (not that that’s my dream…). This may seem pessimistic and uncomfortable, but it’s not.

I am not saying you can’t or shouldn’t pursue your dreams, absolutely do. What I’m saying is you have to find ways of coping with your current situation, fitting your dreams around your schedule, and find what’s right for you.

What I’m proposing instead is a new way of looking at work, a new framework for seeing your life and your career, a new method of deciding what’s right for you:

Don’t look at the job, look at the outcome.

For instance, say you think you want to work in finance, but think the hours are too long, and the tasks seem too repetitive, look at the outcome. The outcome of a financial career is most likely going to be a lot of money. If the outcome of earning a lot of money is the outcome that’s most important to you, then you should do that.

In another case, if you want to be a writer, but think the job doesn’t have enough security and too much rejection, look at the outcome. The outcome of a writing career is being able to say that you’ve published work that will long outlive you. If the outcome of leaving a legacy is the outcome that’s most important to you, then you should do that.

This is a useful way of looking at things because some in some jobs, the work will be hard, the hours will be horrible, and the pay may be bad, but if the outcome itself aligns with your most important desires, then it’s worth it. There’s so much pressure to always do what you enjoy, but sometimes you won’t enjoy the work itself, you’ll enjoy what comes at the end of the hard work.

This method also helps with deciding what job or career path you should be in. Take some time to figure out what outcomes you desire from work the most; it could be anything like money, being able to spend more time with your family, being able to say you lived your dream, or leaving a mark on the world. If you’re not getting the outcome you want, and not enjoy the work you’re doing, then it may be time to start looking at the job pages.

This mindset also can aid with fitting your dreams around your current life. The philosopher Nietzche once famously said “If a man has his why, he can weather any how”, which is a phrase I try to live by. If you know the outcome you most desire, then any amount of work you have to put in to achieve it is worth it and bearable, even if it means waking up at 5am to fit in some time beginning a business, writing your blog during your lunch break at work, or eating ramen every day to save for a round-the-world trip. Keep reminding yourself of why you’re doing what you’re doing.

So, get out there, find your purpose, and get the outcome you want.

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