If you’re waiting to discover what you were ‘meant to be’, stop right now. I work with lots of people who feel unhappy and stuck in their jobs, and they’re desperately waiting for the magical career fairy to sprinkle some happiness dust upon them in the form of their dream job.
Waiting for anything in your career is a flawed strategy. You need to create the change you want; it doesn’t just appear in front of you one day when you’re skipping along.
Easy, right? Ditch the job, start a business earning millions from a passive income while you sit on the beach.
Maybe not. Not everyone can (or should) ditch their jobs and start again. Many of us have financial and family commitments, and if you’re one of these people, I have some advice for creating a career you love, without starting all over again, without loss of income and without a hefty job search.
Don’t quit. Just yet, anyway.
I know it can be tough dragging yourself into work every day to deal with a situation that seems untenable. With 20 years under my belt in HR and career coaching, I’ve seen a familiar pattern; you become unhappy at work, you become unengaged, you wait for the situation to improve but it doesn’t so you look for a new job and finally you quit, which comes as a complete shock to your boss.
What’s wrong with that scenario? The last bit.
It shouldn’t be a shock to anyone when you resign. If you want to manage your career in the best way possible, it’s imperative that you open up the lines of communication with your manager when things aren’t going to plan so that BOTH parties have a chance to turn the situation around.
It’s horrible to feel trapped in a job, and even worse to feel that the only resolution is to quit, but if you haven’t talked to your boss about what’s wrong or haven’t tackled the issue head-on, then you really haven’t given it your best shot.
Sure, what I’m talking about here can be a tough conversation. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea and it’s a situation that can be nerve wracking and stressful. But a job search isn’t a walk in the park either. So before you quit and run, ask for a meeting and give your boss the opportunity to help resolve whatever it is that’s pushing you out the door.
Focus on what IS working
When you’re feeling disillusioned at work, it’s easy to get distracted by what I call ‘shiny new things’.
Invention and evolution can be great, but just make sure you’re not throwing away years of experience and intellectual property because you’re a bit over it.
How about if, rather than starting from scratch on something new, you tweak and polish what IS already working for you? You could even find a new angle for your skills and experience and become an expert in your field.
What tasks/projects/offerings have you sidelined for something more exciting? Write them down.
Now highlight the ones that have true value and have delivered results previously.
What can you do to tweak, crank or polish those tasks/projects/offerings to make them more interesting to you and even more appealing to your clients or boss
You’re now focusing on improvement instead of invention. You’ve identified what IS working, so now it’s time to focus your time and energy into that instead of getting distracted by shiny new things.
Is it time to be your own boss?
Many people love with the idea of starting their own business because they think it will give them more control over their lives.
Being an employee doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy similar benefits to being a business owner – you simply need to start being the CEO of ‘You Inc.’, and you can avoid the trap of working longer hours for less money, like many small businesses owners end up doing.
It’s important to ask yourself what YOU want out of your job rather than being defined solely by your job description or what someone else considers best for you.
Take a moment to think about the reasons why you initially took the job you have at the moment and whether anything has changed since. Perhaps you have different priorities now? If so, are those priorities being met?
It’s important to think about how you can use your job to achieve what’s important to you so don’t feel confined by your job description. Be creative in your thinking and work out how you can utilise your job to your best advantage, then be smart in the way you approach making any key changes that are required.
Stop whingeing, start doing
When you get yourself into a negative frame of mind your stress levels soar and energy levels plummet, which is not a good combination.
So if you find yourself falling into the ‘ain’t life awful’ club (and of course we all do sometimes) it’s time to give yourself a kick up the backside and consider what the CEO of ‘You Inc.’ should do next.
Think about what you can do to change your situation and take personal responsibility for the results you’re getting. Be smart and ask for help when you need it, and surround yourself with positive people – energy and enthusiasm are contagious!
When you are clear on what you want, take proactive steps to develop yourself, and approach your frustrations with a positive mindset, you’ll start to feel a much greater sense of control over your job and your level of career satisfaction.
Like you, your career should evolve, grow and mature. It’s not always possible to leave a secure job but, by taking some control and being proactive, you can boost not only your enjoyment of your job, but your effectiveness which in turn will make it all the easier to find the next role when the right time comes.
Your career isn’t a one-time decision, it’s a never-ending journey that can be highly rewarding if you are open to change and willing to apply yourself.
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