First of all, this is not a sympathy post for men, or a meninist post.
I speak not only from experience but also from speaking with many men around the age of 30-40 (many of them my own friends). I’ve also seen and heard the millennial generation talking about this as well (those in their 20’s).
A lot of men are feeling stuck in their job and life. I’m talking hundreds of thousands, if not millions of men.
For a man it’s not easy to just quit and spend weeks or months researching business ideas, discover your passions, figure out your purpose – not when you have bills, responsibilities and a family to provide for.
…Even if that job is sucking the life out of you…
A lot of men are waking up unhappy and absolutely dread going to work. Many of these men have to leave their families for work for weeks at a time – in Australia we call them FIFO workers – and some of these men just can’t handle it.
They have to deal with isolation, being away from loved ones, a lot of these men are feeling like their lives lack purpose and meaning – some of these men turn to coping mechanisms while others can’t cope at all.
This feeling of lack and depression doesn’t just affect FIFO worker either. Corporate workers are feeling like they’ve wasted 20 years of their lives doing nothing and have nothing to show for it. Men from all walks of life and nationalities are feeling this way, not ALL men – but a lot.
There are a ton of very busy mental health organizations around the world, man sheds are popping up around the world, there are TV and YouTube commercials urging men to talk about their issues and depression is at an all-time high (mostly among men by a large margin).
Since we spent much of our lives doing work, it makes sense that we all feel as though we are doing something important and making a difference; as well as doing something that brings us joy and happiness.
Even if you won the lottery tonight, eventually you’ll want to be doing something meaningful with your life.
Tony Robbins believes that the reason we humans do what we do is because of six human needs:
The Six Human Needs
1. Certainty: assurance you can avoid pain and gain pleasure
2. Uncertainty/Variety: the need for the unknown, change, new stimuli
3. Significance: feeling unique, important, special or needed
4. Connection/Love: a strong feeling of closeness or union with someone or something
5. Growth: an expansion of capacity, capability or understanding
6. Contribution: a sense of service and focus on helping, giving to and supporting others
I’m not going to talk about all of these, there’s enough on the internet for you to research these needs yourselves if you want to know more, however I suppose out of these six human needs – significance, growth and contribution are lacking in many men’s lives today.
What can be done?
Firstly we need to realize that ‘intentional experimentation’ is not a waste of time when it’s done with the purpose of getting closer to your true self, so…try different things.
We grow by the questions we ask ourselves like: What contributions do I want to make to the world?
When you pursue meaningful work, you inspire others to as well. I really believe we are the purpose generation.
There’s no more linear career path.
You need to embrace developing a breakthrough career mindset, where you figure out your next steps as you go along – aligning your actions with your purpose and making sure you are surrounding yourself with people who hold you accountable to your goals.
Don’t begrudge your circumstances to someone who isn’t growing at the same rate as you, he’ll never understand. He’ll just continue sipping on his beer sitting on the couch telling you that everybody hates their life, job or career.
Instead, choose the right people to hold you accountable – people who are reaching for the same thing, and; people who are feeling the same way and want to actually do something about it.
No matter how bad things get, there are always people willing to help out if we have the courage to ask.
Meaningful work it’s all about doing work that reflects your interests and allows you to share your gifts to help others living in alignment with your purpose surrounded by supportive communities.
Life is a never ending journey but the time for intentional learning, experimentation, and action is now.
If you feel stuck knowing you need to make a change but are afraid to take the leap, then you do everything and anything it takes to step outside the box, outside your comfort zone and outside your usual circle of friends.
It takes courage to start living your life through intentional experimentation, but surrounded by the right people, it’s possible.
There are three steps:
1) Find believers – find people who ride the same wave as you, who will hold you accountable and encourage you along the way. You’ll know when you find these people because when you tell them about how you’re going to chase your dreams, goals and ambitions – they’ll ask you “when?”
2) Stop comparing yourself to others and start pursuing what is meaningful to you – nobody has it all figured out. Instead of comparing yourself to everybody on Facebook or what people you know are up to, ask yourself what do YOU want to do? Find your own path.
3) Hustle – begin and work towards whatever it is you want to do, whether that’s going back to school, training, upskilling, take a risk, make the ask, start the blog, build that website.
If you start now, you will change your life.
I want you to imagine yourself holding a pencil in your hand.
Then imagine I’m asking you to ‘try’ to take the pencil out of your hand. You’d most likely grasp the pencil in your hand straight away wouldn’t you?
But the instructions were to ‘try’ to take the pencil out of your hand. Ask yourself again, what would that look like? I’ll tell you, it would look like you ‘looking or staring’ at the pencil but not ‘taking’ it.
That’s what ‘trying’ is.
It’s what most people do. Try.
“I’ll give it a try”, “I’ll try to do it” or, “I’m trying but I’m unsure”.
We tend to look at things, and observe others doing it. We seem to be a bit timid in our actions, instead of acting with faith and confidence; we make excuses.
Then again you might be still in ‘chase the money’ mode, and be training and upskilling in qualifications that you think will lead you to the BIG BUCKS rather than focusing on what this whole post is about.
Doing meaningful work, and the work that you are gifted at, using your natural talents and abilities, and coming up with something uniquely YOU, even if society deems it strange or weird.
I guess ‘social entrepreneur’ might be the phrase I’m looking for, others might call it your ‘original medicine’ or ‘your thing’.
Whatever the term, we need to ‘take’ that pencil out of our hand. In other words, we need to ACT to make change, and realize that anything is possible.
As Yoda said “Always pass on what you have learned.”
This post was inspired by Adam “Smiley” Poswolsky.