The “Pre-Birthday Depression” Syndromes

My birthday is in August. So every year during summer when I officially get one year older, I would have a sudden surge of panic to make a checklist, and measure my life and see if I’m “on track”.

It is the kind of feeling that we know our youth won’t last forever, that time is precise, and we should have been doing the right thing for the best of our futures.

This feeling of panic started since I was in my mid-20s. I googled it up and there ‘s really a term called the “pre-birthday depression” syndromes.

We want to achieve great things, although we don’t know how. We want a great life; not a normal, mediocre life like everyone else.

We regret having wasted so much time on things that do not really matter, like worrying about things that never happened, or our addictions to check our Instagram every 20 minutes, although we can’t help it.

In short, we are not meeting our own expectations when we compare what we “desire to do” vs what we actually “have done”. That makes us feel like a failure.

Very often, our birthdays are also the time when we are most prompted to having hasty career change decisions.

But wait, what are you measuring your life with?

In the most important aspects of life, namely, Career, Relationships, Health, Finance, and Happiness, what metrics do you use?

What Gets Measured Gets Done

As someone who is always career and purpose driven, I’m particularly concerned about if my career is fueling me or draining me in terms of emotional well-being, professional growth and financial returns.

Seriously, since we spend one-third of our time (and life) at work, our work is an indispensable part of the formula for having a holistic well-being.

We visit the doctor to make sure our bodies are fit and healthy, but what about our careers? So here comes the Career Health Check Quiz to ensure your professional goals are on track, and identify areas that may need a little shift.

From a scale of 1 to 10 (1 – Completely Disagree,  and 10 – Completely Agree), rate your current job with the following criteria:

  1. I am doing what I am good at.
  2. I am learning and growing in my current role.
  3. I feel fulfilled by my work and the impact I made.
  4. I get along with my colleagues (boss, peers, direct reports).
  5. I feel engaged with my firm.
  6. I feel optimistic about where my current career is heading.
  7. My career supports my preferred lifestyle.
  8. I feel I’m fairly rewarded financially with my efforts at work.
  9. I have taken steps to develop my skills in the past 12 months.
  10. I feel positive about going to work every day.

So if any item scores below 5, it’s time to make adjustment intentionally before it’s too late to revert the course.

Job Hopping Every Year? You Don’t Have To

I bet you might only reflect on these questions only once a year during company’s annual performance appraisals. But if you are serious about becoming proactive in your career management, I would suggest a quarterly self-checking on the above 10 items.

For example, I have worked with many job hoppers who hate the need to change jobs so frequently in the first place.

However, when most of us are not mindful in our careers, we allow the frustrations, anger and dissatisfaction at work to accumulate to a point until they are no longer bearable. When we finally realise how unhappy we are at our jobs, we have no choice but to switch our job environment again. It’s like a vicious cycle that we keep moving from hell A to hell B. Not good.

You don’t have to be always like that. If we review our career health quarterly, give it some thoughts and see if there is any possible action we could take, for example, having an honest conversation with your boss to discuss your career growth and concerns, often times it could dramatically improve your job satisfaction without drastic career changes.

Moreover, we can redefine ‘success’ on our terms. Out of the above 10 items, you might find some of them carry more weights than others. For me, it is learning and growing, as well as impact I can make at work. Then we can realign our focus at work on what really matters, and adjust our relationship with our current role. When we prioritize what is important to you at work—everything else will easily fall into place.

Now back to you: What do you value the most for you to feel fulfilled at work?

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