Nearly half of Americans are not satisfied with their jobs, according to a report by The Conference Board, a nonprofit research group. And we all know the terrifying statistics on how many marriages end in divorce. I think it’s safe to say that a lot of people are ready for a change. The question is: How do you know if that’s you? Below is the method by which to answer that question for yourself.
Does your life suck?
Depression doesn’t come with a bang. It comes quietly in the middle of the night. It settles over most people like a haze. You almost don’t notice it at first, and then one day you find yourself lying face down on the floor of your furniture-less apartment, the carpet scoring weird carpet-y lines in your face as you wonder how you’re going to face tomorrow. Or was that just me?
Here are some signs your life needs improvement:
Whether you’re in a relationship that is draining the life out of you or you hate your job, there is a gnawing feeling that just about anything would be better.
If you have a dream, do yourself the favor of pursuing it. Hard. Most people who write to me are desperate to figure out what they really want. They know what they don’t want—that they’d rather be anywhere but here. But when the time comes to act, they don’t, because they have no specific dream. If you have a clear vision of what your life could be, it’s time to move on it.
Psychologist Bert Uchino, Ph.D., found that the more frenemies (what he calls ambivalent relationships) you have, whether they be co-workers, significant others, or anything in between, the more likely you are to experience depression, stress and an overall sense of dissatisfaction with your life.
If any or all of the above apply to you, it’s time to make a change. And I get it: Change is scary. But the single most important factor in anyone’s life is happiness. So even if you, like me, plan to live forever (but probably won’t), what does it matter if you’re miserable? Once you figure out that the game you’re playing isn’t money or success, but rather how you feel, the sooner you’ll prioritize a deep sense of fulfillment over fear.
Assuming you’ve embraced that positive brain chemistry is the point of this thing called life, here’s what you should do next.
1. Save six months of your salary.
It would be way cooler for me to tell you to burn the boats and storm that castle, but the truth is, there’s no reason to take unnecessary risks. When you have six months of salary in the bank, suddenly going to work every day or living where you live is a choice.
2. Set a hyper-specific goal.
This is where most people fall down. They don’t know what they want. You have to get really specific about what you want. If you don’t know, start by identifying who’s living your ideal life. Then figure out what you need to do to get there.
3. Take action.
At some point, the rubber just has to meet the road. You can think about things all day, but that’s not going to change anything. You must demand of yourself that you take action. Don’t focus on your behavior; focus on your identity. Remind yourself that you’re the kind of person who refuses to live a life of quiet desperation. Tell anyone who will listen, including yourself. Then act in accordance with that identity.
This article originally appeared in the January 2018 issue of SUCCESS magazine.