Getting to "It's On My Terms Now"
I keep this sticky note on a board over my desk. It has traveled with me in 3 moves across 2 states and is a constant reminder that I have the power to make choices about how I manage my career every day.
It is really hard to get to a point of having that perspective. There is so much that moves us to needing to be liked and to please others - to get a good review, a raise, a new job - that it is easy to lose sight that the option to get to a place where you make the choices is there. Including the choice to stay or go.
I left a job that was not working for me and a lifestyle that was not working for my family a number of years ago in an extreme manner - I quit my job, bought a house in a new state, sold my house and did not have a new job lined up, all while supporting my two very young children on my own. That may sound crazy but in many ways was the sanest thing I have ever done. I got to a point where tweaks and negotiations with myself just could not get me far enough away from what was not working and I had to do something drastic. Start fresh, all around. And as terrifying as that was it was also extremely liberating, because I got to define from ground zero what it would all look like.
I was able to get a new job, and negotiate that job in terms that worked for me and my family regarding working remotely, working a reduced schedule, how much travel I would do and the kind of work I would do. I did make compromises, but those compromises were 100% my choice. And it got me in a new mindset that I have been able to draw upon ever since.
It is very easy to feel trapped, because we do need a job and a steady paycheck and a certain amount of stability and predictability. How much of those things we need varies for each of us. But it is important to not lose sight of the things you do have a choice over even within those confines. Inertia and habit can be little devils here, because it can be easier to keep going along with something that isn't great than face finding something new. But that is a choice, and the more conscious you can be about making that choice the more empowered you will feel.
If you feel like being at a place to take this step is a million miles from where you are today, pick something small to start with that you want to get more ownership over. Achieving a few small victories will get the momentum going and give you the confidence to start to tackle this challenge on a bigger scale. And if you can't get to the terms you want where you are, decide if it is time to change the game. That choice is yours to own.