Career Plateau: How I Got Past It Without Needing To Escape Reality
In the past couple of months, I’ve rarely needed to escape or unplug from my work. It’s interesting, considering my schedule has never been more hectic. Despite the workload, I've also never felt more content and at ease with things. I was considering this as I sat listening to the waves crash against the shore in the process of preparing for my lecture next week.
Now, what brought me to a point of content and how do I stay within this frame of mind? That was my next thought. For the past twelve or so years, my family and I have travelled to Florida to spend Thanksgiving together. Normally, I spend the week prior stressing myself out by working long hours to make sure everything gets done so that I can disconnect from my everyday world, especially work. That’s to say, normally, I look forward to this time of year because it means a chance to unplug and escape.
While some may view this as a healthy habit, I prefer to be at a place in my life where I do not need to escape. To me, feeling the need to escape signifies that I perceive my reality in a negative way. While I love to travel, I never again want it to be for the sake of escaping from my everyday life—a method I’ve used for so many years. Every so often when I would get frustrated, I used to just leave. Not that it is a surprise, but I always returned to the very same point I left at, translating into more frustration.
This time, while I have prepared much of my client work in advance, I’ve also found myself looking forward to writing, reading, returning to neglected creative tasks, and, significantly, working more. To me this shift in perspective is very interesting.
Last night, over puzzles and conversation with my dad, we began chatting about teaching and what my plans were for the next two years of my career. Within that conversation, I realized that my need to escape and unplug was not due to the nature of my work, the amount of new projects I had, nor my monthly earnings. It stemmed from that feeling of having plateaued, of getting caught in a rut! I realized that if I am not progressing, I’m going against my nature, and that leads to anxiety. My character is to work towards something and learn. If I no longer feel challenged, I no longer have the need to learn and therefore I become complacent and begin to feel like I’m caught in a standstill. To me, this kills creative inspiration and productivity. It was an awesome “Aha” moment!Having come to realize this, I hope that I will continue making decisions that will lead me to a path where I can sustain this wonderful frame of mind. Is it possible to always feel this way? Definitely not. But I would like to develop a blueprint where I’m able to return to it.
I’m sharing this as I’ve come to realize that so much of our motivation is shaped by our perception of reality. Truthfully, my life did not experience a major shift but my perception of it did.