A Reader Writes:
Recently I’ve been feeling really unhappy at work. In fact, most days I really dread having to be there and I literally live for the weekends. It’s really starting to take it’s toll on me. I can’t pinpoint the exact source of my dissatisfaction, only that it is impacting my motivation. I need to figure this out. I have a long way to retirement and I can’t image years of feeling this way.
If you can dream it, you can do it. – Walt Disney
First and foremost, you are not alone. In fact, employee stress and burn out accounts for job dissatisfaction for many people. Think about it, many of us are at work eight or more hours a day. When you do the math, that is 1/3 of our day – not counting sleep. That is a long time to be dissatisfied and unfulfilled. The good news is, there are many options you can choose to have the type of career that will bring you happiness and satisfaction. It could be self-employment, making a career change, or identifying a job tweak in your current role that could make all the difference.
Here are a few strategies to help you identify a career change or ways to incorporate more satisfaction/happiness in your current profession:
Brainstorm: I love this strategy! I’ve used it in a business setting and it works great for personal development as well. Grab a pad of paper and at the top write your objective in question form. Next, list out at least 20 ideas to your question. An example question may be: “If money is not a concern, what should I be doing with my time?” Then for the next 30-60 minutes come up with answers to that question. Do not consider feasibility of your ideas or challenges at this point. The goal is to simply come up with 20 answers. If necessary, you can repeat this exercise every day until you get to 20.
Ask a few close friends: Sometimes our friends know us better than ourselves. They can offer a unique perspective based on their experiences with us over an extended period of time. So ask what they think you would enjoy doing. Don’t be surprised at how easily they can zero in to your strengths and abilities and identify a new career aspiration
Ask your manager and trusted colleagues: Your manager and coworkers most likely see you in a way you do not see yourself. In fact, they are likely the most familiar with your strengths and weaknesses in the work environment. They may be able to identify those secondary or hidden talents as well. For example, I worked as a Human Resources Business Partner for several years supporting a number of business leaders. I also worked very closely with management and the employee population on a number of initiatives and issues. My professional feedback was positive and always noted that career coaching was a great strength. In fact, as much as I enjoyed being a business partner, coaching was a role that I naturally gravitated towards and truly enjoyed. It ultimately lead to a career change that I never regretted.
So, make a meeting with your manager; grab a coffee with a colleague and ask for feedback. Then, compile all the answers you receive and see if there are any common threads you may want to explore.
Work with a career coach: If you are considering a career change and would like an unbiased perspective, consider working with a career coach. A career coach will work with you to create an action plan to meet your career goals. Your personalized plan will be designed with your specific goals and how you can best attain them.
Take a career assessment test: I enjoy career assessments because they can offer some great insights into your talents and motivators. You are asked a series of questions about what you are good at, what you like to do and a variety of preferences. If you take one, you will likely see some new exciting areas to explore. I’ve personally taken The CareerFitter Career Test and it provided fantastic feedback that has been useful in my career development.
Keep a journal: If you don’t, consider keeping one for the next 60-90 days. Then, read through it and look for common threads, trends and activities you enjoy. Keep in mind that finding examples of what you do not like and what frustrates you is just as important as finding what you enjoy. For example, if you are very frustrated with an overwhelming and demanding boss, you may want to consider a work environment or career path that provides more autonomy.
Discovering what you really want to do with your life is one of the most important decisions you can make. Using one or more of these strategies will provide you with useful data points that will help tremendously when you reach a career crossroad. We spend over a third of our lives at work. Wouldn’t it make sense then to figure out the right career path to keep that third of our lives happy and fulfilled?
– Wishing you continued success!