I Hate My Job, and Other Complaints
Time to See the Wood, Not the Trees
Over the Christmas period I spoke to a lot of friends who were deeply unsatisfied in their careers, and now that we have moved into the New Year, I am speaking to friends who are frustrated and need a change, for their own sanity more than anything.
This may sound very familiar to you—it may be the post-Christmas blues, it may be that feeling that you’ve had for a little while, maybe you spoke to a friend or loved one over the course of the holidays and were a little bit jealous of their success or their career path. All of these are very common, but now is not the time for moping, or for hoping that things will get better, now is the time for action!!
However, change can be incredibly scary at first; there is no one size fits all answer in how to go about changing the direction of your career, or where your skills would be most suited. Whatever your situation, there are some steps that can be considered during the career change process. These steps could help you avoid the anxiety and regret of making the wrong move and ending up as unfulfilled as you were before.
1. See the trees, not the wood.
First, you have to understand yourself. You have to know what you’re risking getting out of your comfort zone for, what you value, your priorities and non-negotiables. So many professionals, including the ones sat around you in the office right now, don’t have a clue who they are. Sadly, they spend years trying to figure out what direction to take, without understanding themselves or what they really want. If you don’t know yourself properly, you can’t build a successful and enjoyable career.
Secondly, you need to step back and look at your life and career with a different lens than you’re used to. You may need support, it can be very difficult doing this yourself, so enlist a mentor or friend who can help you understand more clearly what you’re capable of, and where your skills are most valued.
2. Change your way of thinking.
There may well be something preventing you from more success and reward in your professional life or you would already have it. Look at the repeating issues in your professional life; poor relationships with managers, poor working environments, being passed over for promotion continually, etc. Look at these patterns, try and pinpoint how your behaviour is encouraging these patterns, and do something to shift that dynamic. You are accountable and it is your responsibility to take action to generate change.
You could also have limited ambitions about money, success, your worth, or you may take repeated actions that hold you back from the next level of success. For many people, it’s a problem with their communication style, pushing away any kind of positive support or help. For others, it’s a lack of confidence or a belief that they’re not worthy of advancing or experiencing satisfaction in their work. Until you recognise and let go of the detrimental things that you’re continuously doing and thinking that keeps you "stuck," you can’t build a happy, successful career. Your limitations will follow you in every new direction until you address them.
3. Pursue your own ambition, one step at a time.
You need a vision for the next chapter. So often, we dream big about where we think we’d love to be, but the vision is so far away from where we are today, that we sabotage any efforts to get there. If you are looking at what you want to be doing, you need to be a realist, your dream job may still be 3-5 years down the road, therefore you must identify the steps you need to take in order to achieve that ambition. Stepping stones are the key to professional contentment. Each one might not be the dream, but you can take heart that you are heading in the right direction, and soon all you wanted will be in your grasp—you will have no wasted days at work—something which, if we are in the wrong role, all of us feel at some point.
4. Explore your options.
Perhaps the most important step in changing up your career, is to explore the directions that you are attracted to the most. You may wish to focus on two or three potential avenue as not to lose focus. The grass is always greener, so be proactive, don’t just assume what a new role would look like. You should meet with your recruitment consultant, you can interview people doing what you might want to do, research it online, read everything you can get your hands on about this new direction and go to networking meetings with people in the field. Don’t leave one stone unturned. Try on the professional identity of this new direction before you leap.
I am sure that most of us have been guilty at some point of applying for a role we have no real idea about, or worse, taken a new job in an industry that you know very little about, only to be left disappointed, and even more unsatisfied than before.
5. Be patient
Finally, you shouldn’t expect this all to happen in days or weeks. This process of identifying who you really are and determining the directions that will align best with your visions and needs, takes time, energy and patience. Your dream is not going to come knocking on your front door, you need to take the leap, reach out and grab it.
To quote my favourite Dr. Seuss book (as I do most days):
“You're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So... get on your way!”