What is it you can afford to do?

I wish I had a better job. But I don’t want one of those dead-end jobs, once again. (…) It’d be nice if I could find one that is more meaningful.

Looking for ways to improve our situation. It’s a constant worry for many workers. Even more so when you have financial responsibilities or people depending on you – let it be a spouse, a child or an aging parent.

Spending time on hoping and wishing “for something better” comes naturally then. Compared to when you don’t have any concerns about making ends meet.

TWO OPPOSITES DIRECTIONS

Being able to project ourselves in the future is one thing that makes mankind special. On top of our ability to develop elaborate tools and languages.

However, this aptitude to imagine a better future is also what stops many people in their tracks. How come? They realize there’s a huge difference between “where they’re at in their lives” – professionally, for instance – versus “where they wish they’d be” instead. So much so that this “better job” you started to picture in your head, for example, starts to look too far out to be reached anytime soon.

I wish I’d have this kind of job but… don’t have the skills or the experience for that…

Hopes get deflated not always because what you or someone else have dreamed about is simply unrealistic – like becoming an astronaut when you have no interest whatsoever for all things related to space and sciences. Hopes get deflated when we eventually compare them to our present situation, and pessimism kicks in. “That’d be nice to have this other job but right now… I don’t make enough money to survive and support my family, with the job I already have. And once at home, I don’t have much time for me because of _____ (fill in the blank). I can’t see what I can do about it.” “Being pessimistic” is another trait that also defines human nature.

So we find ourselves being pulled in two opposite directions. Not knowing what to do. In big part due to the responsibilities we can’t really release ourselves from. Something that, if it was possible, would give us way more freedom of action.

Since it’s not the case, we then have to figure out how to find a new job, on top of providing for ourselves or our loved ones. As if accomplishing only one wasn’t hard enough.

Which, for people like you, might not sound that unfamiliar but still leaves you with the same problem at hand. “How do I get out of a situation like this?

WHEN YOU RUN OUT OF PATIENCE…

In order to protect what they have, even if they consider it’s not much, some people will make the decision to endure their situation as long as possible. Because they believe it’s the way things are and they will eventually change by themselves. “Nothing will last forever. This stretch of bad luck will come to pass.”

On the other hand, other workers will delay their decision to change their situation after an important event happens or stage in their lives is being reached. Like once the car is paid or their teen graduates from high school or else. Only then they believe they’ll be able to make a move. Because the timing and circumstances will be right, then. Not before.

Depending from how far this window of opportunity is – in time – it’s possible to run out of patience. Even with the best intentions and will.

A more practical option is to look at what you can afford to do today – in the short term – to get closer to where we want to be. To this “better future” you have in mind. So just like when you put small amounts in a savings account, on a regular basis, you end up creating a compound effect with the daily small steps you make towards your goal.

More importantly, your help shortcut this pessimistic reflex our brain has. How so? By slowly filling, through your daily actions, the gap between what you wished you had and your present situation.

The best part is you do all this not by taking unnecessary risks but calculated ones. As you only use what’s at your disposal. In terms of time, energy and money. Nothing more. Which mitigates the dire-risks of making the kind of change – for the better- that you’ve been thinking about.

…WHAT CAN YOU AFFORD TO DO?

At some point, we all find ourselves in a situation where refusing to make the decision to “change the way things are” appears to best option possible. The same for postponing it indefinitely.

Truth is, we don’t have much influence on when and how we get forced to make such decision. A company’s restructuration, a parent who gets sick, a spouse who loses his job, etc.. What we do have more influence on is how we react to such situation.

“Here’s what I can afford to do today” often makes the difference between someone who wishes he had a better job, and someone who gets one.

What’s one area in your life where you believe that making daily small steps would really help make a change?

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