Article first published in Pick The Brain: https://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/lost-and-stuck-in-your-job-7-simple-truths-to-shift-to-a-career-you-love/
You look at the time every few minutes, counting down the hours and minutes until the work day ends and you can leave.
The last hour always feels like forever.
It’s another frustrating day at work. Stuck in yet another project you couldn’t care less about.
There’s this nagging feeling that you are not utilizing your strengths, talents and abilities to your fullest potential in your job.
Deep down you know you need to change. But it feels so overwhelming.
Where do you start? What do you do?
The truth is that feeling stuck is a good sign – because it is an acknowledgment that where you are is not working for you anymore.
Moving into a career that is aligned with who you are doesn’t have to be stumbling in the dark. Here are 7 simple truths to help you shift into a career you love.
Pay Attention to Your Denial
Often times, we think we should want certain things in our careers, such as making $X amount, or a specific type of career – all the while ignoring that inner voice that’s whispering something else.
That denial suppresses what we really desire, because we are terrified to face it. We worry about the uncertainty. We worry that we would fail. We are afraid of what others would think. So we continue to deny that inner voice while we aspire to what we “should” be wanting.
However, living a life of “shoulds” simply bring us further away from what really gives us meaning and satisfaction. We are not living our lives – we are living the lives that others want for us.
So let go of the “shoulds”, ask yourself what it is that you are denying, and listen to what your inner voice is telling you.
Pick Out What You Actually Enjoy
We typically think that we want a job with certain characteristics. E.g. challenging, interesting, etc etc. However, what we actually enjoy based on our previous jobs is usually a better clue of what suits us.
I thought I would enjoy solving complex strategy problems for clients. But upon closer inspection of what I actually enjoyed in my past careers, it was always mentoring and motivating my team that gave me the greatest satisfaction.
So start diving into your work history and past experiences. Figure out what were the things that gave you the greatest satisfaction. Use that as a basis to figure out what you want in your career.
Don’t Let Your Frustrations Color Your Career Move
When we are in a job that we hate, we know acutely what is it that we dislike and what pushes our buttons at work. However, there’s a danger that we might swing to the exact opposite in our next career, as a reaction to the frustration of where we are now.
Take a moment to process what are your motivators for your next job. If it’s fueled primarily by your anger and negative feelings of your situation now, it’s better to take a step back.
Enlist a close friend or mentor who can be impartial, and help you process if this next job is the right move for you.
Follow Your Gut If the Career / Personality Assessments Says Otherwise
I have quite a few mentees who tell me “I have taken these career assessments, and it says my current career fits me best. But I am unhappy.” These tests are just another tool to help you figure things out – but they don’t know you as well as you do.
A computer test is no substitute for you.
Listen to what your gut is trying to tell you. What is that little voice in your gut that you are ignoring trying to say? Why is it telling you this? What is it trying to do?
Honor and trust yourself. Often times we have the answers we seek, if we are willing to sit with ourselves and ask the questions.
Start Talking to People
If you have an idea of what potential jobs might interest you, approach people who are already in the industry, or have left, to get a sense of what life is like. You can learn so much more from talking to people. It helps you figure out what sorts of pressure you might face on a daily basis, insider knowledge of the industry, and if it’s really suited for you. Talking to people who have left the industry is also beneficial, since they are likely to be more honest about the negative aspects of the industry.
You want to go into it with your eyes wide open, and not be blind sided when you move into your new job.
Being Stuck Is Part of the Process
In a society where we are always being told to be productive, to keep striving and keep doing, there’s this need to “do”. We try to nail down what’s the next career quickly, and work towards it. We beat ourselves up for not figuring out what we want. Or get angry with ourselves for feeling trapped but not knowing where to turn.
The thing is, feeling stuck is part of the process. It’s messy, mucky and uncomfortable, but it’s normal growing pains as we move through the process of figuring out what we want. So give yourself some room to breathe. Accept it for what it is, and cut yourself some slack.
You Are Never Tied to One Career for Life
There’s a lot of pressure to choose the “right” path and find “the one” career or passion. But the truth is, your values and needs may change.
What appeals to you now may not suit you 10 years later, much less 30 years down the road. Moreover, the old idea of having 1 career for life is no longer true today, with changing careers becoming increasingly common (http://money.cnn.com/2016/04/12/news/economy/millennials-change-jobs-frequently/index.html).
So don’t feel as if “that’s it” for life. You can always change your mind.
Be Compassionate with Yourself
The process of changing to a new job or career is scary.
You can feel vulnerable about starting over. You worry what your family and friends might think. You don’t know if you can make it. Some days, it can feel like two steps forward, one step back.
But it’s a brave step you are taking. So treat yourself with compassion and kindness. What you are doing is brave, hard work.
Ready For the Next Step?
Imagine waking up, feeling a sense of purpose as you get ready for work.
You relish the challenges you face at work, because it’s the type of challenge that you enjoy. That helps you grow, live up to your fullest potential and be who you really are
You’ve got your roadmap – now all you need to do is follow it.
Your new life of freedom and possibility awaits.