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You’re stuck. You are feeling stagnant and as though your job is going nowhere. You dread going to work every day, yet, you can’t motivate yourself to look for a new job. You’re exhausted…burned out.
If this sounds familiar, don’t you think something needs to change?
Many people complain about a lack in job satisfaction yet, feel completely powerless to do anything. They are paralyzed. When we aren’t happy, we often become overwhelmed with emotion. And when this happens, we can become complacent, causing us to stay put in an unhappy situation.
Staying in an emotional state doesn’t allow us to move into a productive state of dealing with the situation at hand. We’ll have seemingly good excuses for becoming stagnant: “It will get better, it isn’t so bad.” “I won’t be able to find another job in this market.” “I’m exhausted by the end of the day and don’t have the energy to look for a new job.” “No one will hire me, I have no skills.”
When we move into a rational and analytical mode, however, we can take a step back to assess the situation and find ways to change things so we can move forward. If you are feeling paralyzed by emotion regarding your career, take a deep breath and ask yourself these three questions:
- What would make me proud? First and foremost, if you aren’t enjoying the work you do, or worse, don’t believe in the work you do, there’s a problem. Although there will be times when you aren’t happy (no job is perfect), you should at least like what you do and feel relatively proud of what you are spending 40 hours (or more) per week doing. If you don’t believe in the mission of the company you work for…it’s a problem. If you don’t like the people you work for…it’s a problem. If you dread going into your office every day…it’s a problem. If you think the people who run your company are morons…it’s a problem. Pure and simple, you need to feel proud and connected to what you spend your days doing. If you don’t now, think about what kind of work or work environment would change that feeling.
- How much money do I need? It would be really unrealistic to tell you to go do what you love without considering money. All of us have bills to pay. And as much of an idealist as I am, I cannot expect anyone to give up making money to do what they love. That said, instead of thinking about how much money you want to make, try focusing on how much money you need to make. Be honest with yourself. What are your expenses? How much of them are you willing to give up? Are you spending frivolously, or is your budget really tight as it is. Are you able to save money for emergencies and retirement? Once you know how much money you need to meet your needs, then you can look for a new job or career that matches those bare minimum expectations. Obviously, making more than the bare minimum would be nice, but it shouldn’t limit your choices.
- What lifestyle do I want? Finally, how many hours are you willing to work before you feel as though you are losing your life and identity to the “man?” Put aside your preconceived ideas of the hours you have to work, and instead, think about the lifestyle you want to live. Do you want to be at home for dinner with your family every night? Or, are you okay getting home once or twice a week for dinner and working late on other nights? Are you okay working as a road warrior or would you rather not travel? What length of a commute are you willing to have? In short, you need to know what value you place on your time and what you want to do with your time. Picture your ideal lifestyle in its rawest state.
Only once you answer these three questions can you even begin to look for something that is satisfying. Your answers provide you with a foundation from which to choose a career path and to evaluate options and offers you receive.
Are you stuck right now? Do you lack career or job satisfaction? What are your answers to these three questions?