What do you dream about when your mind wanders off in yet another boring work meeting?
This question should hit home two-fold, not just due to the fact that you have a passion which you may not be catering to, but also the reality if you are finding yourself sitting through another boring work meeting, then it might be time to give away with that job for good.
I know this statement is highly controversial – I mean, who am I to tell you to change jobs?! But at the end of the day, if you are unhappy (and lets face it, you must be if you’re subjecting yourself to one mind numbing meeting after another) then you deserve to be doing something you enjoy and are passionate about.
But, this post isn’t about telling you to quit a job you hate (you can read about that here) but more about helping you to discover what it is that floats your boat, and keeps you awake at night thinking about it. And no, that hot guy from the gym doesn’t count!
So many people are unhappy in their careers, but whats keeping them stuck is an apathy about what it is they truly care about. Years in unfulfilling work have sapped every drop of inspiration and enthusiasm from them that they can’t even be bothered to try to improve their situation. Sound like anyone you know? It’s a vicious cycle – you may have identified that you no longer enjoy your work (or perhaps you never did) but early mornings, financial commitments and a ‘need’ for coming home to drink/eat/watch tv/mindlessly surf the internet is stopping you from taking action.
Dont worry – I’ve been there. You have an underlying feeling that something isn’t right, but its easier just to get on with things. You get up, go to work, wish away the hours until 5pm, come home, eat, watch tv/go out, sleep, and then repeat it for 4 more days until the weekend. The weekend is then spent medicating yourself with purchases, food and occasions you feel you ‘deserve’ after such a shit week, and the cycle starts all over again. It’s not fun to live your life this way, and why should we?
I think one of the largest barriers to us following our passion/s is identifying what that passion is. After all, how can we do something we don’t even know exists yet? Once you’ve pinpointed your ticket to freedom (and happiness) then it all gets easier from there, I promise.
So, you ask, where the hell do I start?!
The first thing you need to do is accept that you are unhappy in your current job and want to change. Without doing this you are likely to sabotage yourself later when you get scared, and will end up right back at the start of the hamster wheel – we don’t want this. Give yourself a few days, or however long you need to let this sink in, and become comfortable with the thought that you are going to be pursuing other avenues for yourself. This can be one of the hardest parts, as often we tie our identity up with the career choice we have made, and if something questions that, it can be hard to let go and build yourself a new identity. Just keep reminding yourself that it is only a good career choice if it makes you happy, not just because your mum, partner or friends think it’s too much of a risk to change things.
Once this is done, you are ready for the fun part!
‘When the student is ready, the teacher will appear’
Now its time to start the exploration process – allocate yourself two weeks for this. Every day I want you to read at least 3 new blogs you’ve never heard of, and also start flicking through career change websites such as Career Shifters. If you don’t know how to find these blogs then go on twitter and facebook and search for topics that interest you. You will soon discover a whole world of sites you never knew existed!
Every week, buy a weekend newspaper (the ones with loads of liftouts/magazines in them) and give yourself an hour or two to flick through the articles. Keep a notepad with you to jot down moments of inspiration or rip out articles that you enjoy.
Every night before you go to bed, write down three things you enjoyed about your day – this could be an article you read, or something you did after work.
At the end of the two weeks you should hopefully be feeling some inspiration from all this research and have a few ideas about what might be your calling.
The next step is to do some analysis about what you’re actually looking for in a career.
Take out a large piece of paper and divide it into 4 squares.
The first square is for the things you like about your current job. The second is the things you hate. The third is for all the things that are important to you in a job (for example, training and development, an understanding manager or working in a large office) and the fourth is for the interests you have identified over the last 2 weeks, whether that is a circus performer, bar manager, business owner or teacher, write them all down.
Be completely honest here and write everything down that comes into your head, there’s no right or wrong answers! Carry this sheet with you for a couple of days, and when more things come to you, add them to the list.
Now its time to analyse your sheet – basically, what we want to achieve here is to find a career, or a few careers that include your first box, third box and fourth box, without anything from the second. You might find a pattern has emerged and that you actually enjoy a few things about your current job/company, but need to make some adjustments to get to where you need to be. It’s best to give yourself a few options and be open to all of your findings, not just the easiest. Remember, our goal is to be the happiest we can be in our careers, not take the easy way out.
Depending on what you have come up with, it’s now time to make some goals. If you have decided that you like your current company but hate the job you’re doing, then speaking to your manager about a change would be a great first goal.
If you think you might need extra training, or to do a course, start researching these and figuring out how you could make it happen.
If you want to start a business, sign up for free resources like business link, or buy yourself some books on amazon to get you up to speed.
You have done the hard part, so not you owe it to yourself to follow it through. You’re bound the be on a roller coaster of emotion throughout this time, but just remember to breathe and go back to your chart. Also remember the decision you made at the start of the process to make a change. If you need to, write this on a piece of paper and stick it somewhere you see it every day to remind you! The important thing is to not let fear coax you into going back to the status quo, as you will find that after the initial relief wears off, you will be back in the same place in a months time, wondering where it all went wrong.
Repeat daily – ‘In a year from now, I’ll be happy I started today’
I find this can soothe almost anything, so don’t underestimate saying this a few times to yourself when you start to feel worried. And you will – it’s totally normal to feel that way when you are about to make a change, so go easy on yourself and take baby steps. Things will get easier and you will start to find your feet once you start working you have always wanted.
Best of luck on your journey to career happiness – The hardest part really is the start in most things that we do, but after that initial little bit of momentum, you will be amazed at what you can achieve. Dont let yourself hold you back from what you are capable of!