Are you in a job that you feel is long past its use by date?
The fun, excitement and passion for what you did are long gone.
Monday mornings are a dread with that sinking, ground hog feeling as you think about the week ahead.
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You feel frustrated, stuck and angry, as right now, you don’t even have a vision for what else you could be doing. Or what you would like to be doing feels so impossible and not one that would pay the bills.
For comfort and distraction, you binge on food, alcohol and drugs or other ‘blotting out’ fixes. But you know deep down that this is not the solution.
Before you get too hard on yourself, let me say, you are not alone and many of us have been through this feeling of being stuck and not being able to see an alternative future.
But wait – all is not lost as you might think!
The job you are in which you have grown out of could even be the perfect job for you right now.
What do I mean by this? Well – just that it is giving you important information about your likes and dislikes and paving the way for a different future.
Circumstances don’t make you what you are – they reveal who you are – (Unknown)
Here are seven actions you can take:
These actions will help you feel more empowered, resourceful and in control again.
- Do a career and life audit including what is still working
Step back and take a bigger, holistic view of all areas of your life including work.
Take stock of what is working for you and what is not. Make a list because when we are unhappy in our work, it becomes the sole focus. We forget to note all the other good things that are present in our lives.
Ask yourself, “In what ways, is my current job working for me still?”
For example, a client felt he had reached the end with his job. However, he was also acutely conscious that while he was contemplating his next move, the job was still paying his bills and providing him with a routine that he valued.
As he said, “It is much easier for me to consider other possibilities while I am gainfully employed than being without a job.”
It is important to acknowledge this because it takes the edge off our negative frame of mind and puts us back in control.
And it resources us to adopt a more problem solving approach from which we can take positive action.
2. Get clear on what energizes you
“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” ~ Nelson Mandela
What do you enjoy doing which energizes you? What do you have an interest or passion in? What are you curious about?
Think about the last time you were in a state of flow. What were you doing?
Here are three other ways you could get some new insights on what your energizers might be:
Magic wand exercise
If you could wave a magic wand and create your ideal work and career, what would this look, sound and feel like?
Practical vision exercise
Make a list of all the things you would like to achieve in the next 12 to 18 months.
Imagine this is the end of your life, what would you like to say and how would you like to feel? How would you like to be remembered?
3. Leverage your strengths
“Use your signature strengths and virtues in the service of something much larger than you are.” ~ Martin Seligman
We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Satisfaction and fulfillment comes when we are using these to serve our larger goals and vision.
Looking at your career to date, identify the skills you have picked up which you enjoy using. How much of what you are doing currently is based around these?
Which of your strength would you like to use more? Do you have some under-utilized strengths that you can bring into the current role?
For example, a client was working in media but had a real passion for the youth. In his earlier career, he was a teacher and he missed this in his current role.
He started volunteering with an organization that helped youth at risk which was not only fulfilling but gave him energy for his new career.
If you are unclear, Gallup Strengthfinder assessment can help you identify your top strengths.
4. Get aligned with your values
“The decisions you make are a choice of values that reflect your life in every way”. ~ Alice Waters
Our values act as our compass. They are the bedrock of our thoughts, behavior and conscious or unconscious decision-making.
Have you done a values review lately? Values change with time and sometimes we haven’t caught up with these.
I have seen clients who have been unhappy in their jobs but had not recognized the mis-match between their current job and their core values. Instead they were ‘beating themselves up.’
For example, a client was a in a sales management role and doing very well at it but was totally unhappy. What he really wanted to do was to work in the helping industry.
The value around money and meeting sales target was far removed from his core value of helping people lead better, healthier and more fulfilled lives. This was a happy career move that he finally transited into.
There are many value sets available online that you could tap into to identify your top five values. Once you have done this, identify your top three and see how your current life reflects this.
If you feeling brave, you could cull down to your number one value!
This is one of the most powerful and reveling exercises you could do.
For further help, check out the work of Dr. Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology and Values in Action.
5. Have that courageous conversation
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go”. ~ T.S. Elliot
Sometimes things can improve simply through having that honest conversation with your boss.
For example, a friend was beginning to feel de-motivated in his job and could see the end in sight. But he was not quite ready to leave. He finally plucked up enough courage to initiate a conversation with his boss about his career needs.
As a result, they agreed on a time frame along with what what they needed from each other in the remaining few months. This was a happy ending for both parties!
Look outside the box. Take the initiative and make suggestions about where there might be room for improvement that you could help with. For example, you could take on a project, an informal role such as helping another team or getting something off the ground.
This is another way to show what else you are capable of and may even lead to creating that new role.
6. Create time for you
Create pockets of time where you can do what gives you pleasure and a sense of fun. Our creativity goes underground when we feel stuck in a rut.
If you are not clear about next steps, starting to journal – writing your thoughts and feelings on a daily basis can be helpful.
Don’t underestimate the power of ‘gaps’ and other non-work activities such as walking on the beach, chilling with friends, writing your journal, sitting in a café with your favourite beverage and watching the world go by.
What may seem like insignificant ‘down time’ like nothing is happening is actually the perfect fertilizing ground for unleashing your ideas, inspiration and your new future?
Mundane everyday activities such as driving a car, having a shower, commuting and exercising can also work similarly.
7. Stop being your worst enemy
What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything? ~ Vincent Van Gogh
Watch for the negative self-talk. If you are already feeling down this will just compound these feelings further
You don’t want the negativity seeping out if you go to a job interview or attend a networking event.
Remember when we are in transition such as when reviewing our careers and lives, things don’t happen overnight but it is a process.
It is important to acknowledge this and give yourself time to make the necessary changes. I have had clients who have given themselves six, twelve or eighteen months to get organized.
Have some self-compassion and be gentle and kind to yourself.
Bringing it all together
The actions above will help you get going as you take a step back, review and create a new future for yourself.
Taking these steps will help re-charge and boost your energy and before long you will be in a totally different space!
So go on then, make a start. You owe it to yourself!
(This post was first published in A Daring Adventure)
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