Mental Obesity - How to recognize and avoid it.
“I quit my job today. I didn’t have a problem with the company, I never fought with any of my coworkers, and to top it off, I liked what I did and was good at it. I quit because it was making me mentally obese.”
I wrote this in my journal a couple years ago. I read it regularly to remind myself to be active in my career choices and to not allow complacency to override my possibilities and potential.
For me, walking out of that room after quitting was like losing 100 pounds. It was hard, it made me sweat, but it made all the difference. --- It strengthened my career. It changed my perspective on life. It made me reevaluate my dreams. It refreshed my relationships with the ones I love.
With the exception of Morgan Spurlock, nobody wakes up and says, “I want to be obese!” The change is gradual -- made up of daily passive and active choices coupled with the wearing down of our body over time. For some the struggle is greater and more obvious than for others; however, in the end, “we (all) are what we eat.”
Similarly, our careers are made up of passive and active choices. However, these choices typically affect our brain first and our body second. Starting with the more complex to study and to track makes mental obesity harder to diagnose.
That being said, some symptoms may include:
Chronic cat video watching on YouTube between the hours of 9-5
Multiple trips to the bathroom after spending all day talking at the water fountain
Playing pranks daily on coworkers
Creating holidays to celebrate in efforts to “include everyone”
Let's be honest, we are all human and we need a break from time to time. Mentally fit (the opposite of obesity) is not about being on task 24/7, but it is about being happy when you are. Mentally fit people seek out opportunities that develop or motivate them at their personality and career level.
Career choices are complex. They are the elephant in the room that leads to risk, discomfort, change, stress, and/or fear. I meet people on a regular basis that are selling themselves short. They don’t believe that they can change their current status. And to that, I say --- Don’t be stupid! You cannot afford to live a life doing something that makes you unhappy. And may I add, that as a society, we need your skills, your input, your enthusiasm, and your innovation.
Everyone deserves to be mentally fit in their careers. It all starts with small and simple choices -- the first one is telling yourself, “You can achieve more!”
Here are some active daily choices that help prevent mental obesity in the long run:
Specific and time-oriented goals focused on your behaviors, not your career advancement
Self-assessments that are free and that you can take whenever and as often as you want
Find or become a mentor. - Never before has finding a mentor been easier. Using apps/sites like Shapr, MiMentor, FindAMentor, Facebook, and Linkedin you can find great people in your specific field to meet with, ask questions, or start discussions. Mentoring is about losing yourself in others to find more about yourself in return.
Keep a Career Journal. I recommend this all the time to my clients. This is the closest you can get to a written health report of your long-term mental obesity trends. It also helps you to avoid rash changes and nasty emails you want to retract tomorrow. Journals SHOULD BE PRIVATE TO YOU and can look like a lot of things: words, pictures, or emojis. It only has to take 5 seconds and can even be done on your phone.
Hire a professional. If you need help now or would like guidance on your path, hire a professional career or life coach. Make sure you shop around until you find the right one for you. When you do, stick with it until you learn how to help yourself.
If you choose the last one, then let’s talk. I would love to help you realize your dreams faster.