“Our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers” – M. Scott Peck
Do you find yourself staring blankly at your computer screen? Do you struggle to find energy, passion, and motivation in your career? Maybe some of you even feel as if you’re losing your sanity, and just simply “can’t take it anymore”.
Well you are not alone…
Job satisfaction in America has continued its downward spiral for the eighth straight year below the 1987 historical level, according to The Conference Board 2014 Job Satisfaction Survey. It seems despite being a country of wealth, freedom, and prosperity more and more Americans are losing interest and satisfaction in their work, and some are checking out of the workforce altogether. The trend is upsetting, but tells the tale of the American worker’s deep sense of unhappiness, apathy, and dissatisfaction with his/her work.
So how do you know it’s time to take the leap of faith, and transition into a more meaningful and fulfilling career?
For me, the stress, discontentment, and overburden at work caused me to awaken in the morning, anxiously dreading the upcoming workday, wishing I could be doing anything but going to work. I felt trapped in an endless cycle of dissatisfaction and hopelessness, wanting to make a change in my career, yet my fear held me back. The stress associated with feeling unfulfilled in my job affected my appetite, sleep, mood, ability to think, social life, and all around made me feel anxious and depressed. Like a fire that has used all of its’ fuel, was felt absolutely burned out, I no longer cared to perform to the best of my ability, shut down communication amongst my colleagues, and was only willing to do the bare minimum “just to get by”.
I could feel a fire ignite deep within my core, pressurizing my body and mind like a tea kettle. You may be familiar with the feeling. It’s the tightness and tension you feel deep within your body; I tend to feel it in my gut and chest. It’s as if your heart closes, and the energy that once fueled your passion, creativity, and enthusiasm has been depleted.
I knew I had to make a change in my life. I had to, I was desperate to escape the pain and suffering. With a B.A. in Psychology, I was working in a cubical as a data processor. When the company downsized my department, I was offered a choice: take a temporary job in another department or leave the company. The temporary job was a tempting choice, as I didn’t want to end up financially insecure without a job. However, I knew I would still be just as unhappy and dissatisfied if I continued to stay with the company. I accepted I had to make a transition into ANYTHING that was in the field of psychology, and this was my opportunity.
So, without knowing where the path was going to take me, I took a leap of faith...
I left my data processing job in search for something more meaningful. I knew I had to get into the field of psychology. I loved the healing wisdom underlying the field, and I wanted to use it in service of both myself and others. I saw an opportunity in the field of addictions, and started to take substance abuse and addictions classes; figuring it help me build a stronger foundation and prove to prospective employers I have a vested interest in this work. After many applications and no luck, I finally received a call for an interview from Arapahoe House Inc. I was hired shortly after the interview and have developed a strong career of service in addictions.
4 Tips to Help You Prepare for a Career Transition
1. Reflect and evaluate your skills, interests, strengths, and values: Take the time to honestly evaluate your strengths, interests, and skills. Ask yourself: “If I were to die tomorrow, would I want to be doing what I’m about to do today”? Aptitude, personality, and interests tests like Clifton’s Strengths Finder 2.0, Meyers Briggs, Holland Codes, and the Strong Interest Inventory can help you find clarity, and gain insight and guidance into your occupational strengths, interests, and skills. Take some time to explore what things really ignite passionate fire in your heart. What really motivates you? What gives you meaning and fulfillment in your life? Contemplate how you can make these attributes and values into a career.
2. Plan your transition with SMART goals: SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Write down what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. Will you have to learn new skills? What is your timeframe to accomplish these goals and are they achievable? Planning out a career transition using SMART goals can help you stay organized and focused on the small things which will lead you to big successes.
3. Networking is EVERYTHING: Making and maintaining professional relationships is vital to finding prospective employment, and securing an interview. Connect to other professionals in your field. Learn what helped them integrate into the field, and allow them to help you gain a greater perspective on the career. Maybe you want to create something of your own. Learn from people who have knowledge and experience in your field. Nurture and maintain these relationships, as they may serve you greatly many years down the road.
4. Take action “Baby Steps”: It should be no secret that if you do nothing, nothing happens. Every day, there are small things we can do to reach our goals. You must push yourself through the challenges and barriers holding you back. It’s the small things, done repeatedly over time, which help you create the habits of success. When you don’t know what to do, do what you can to reach your goals. Remember: as long as you keep moving forward towards your goals, you are learning how to succeed.
You don’t have to continue spending 2080 hours each year working a job that leaves you feeling unfulfilled and disparaged; and that doesn’t even the time you spend in awful rush hour traffic! It’s not worth it, trust me. Life is too short and precious to waste it doing something you hate.
While making a career transition can be wrought with uncertainty and anxiety, it is possible to transition into a career that aligns with your passions, values, and creativity; giving you a deeper sense of meaning and fulfillment in both your life and career. Creating a career transition plan helps you stay organized and focused on your goals, especially when self-doubt and anxiety creep in. Just hold on, and don’t let setbacks prevent you from having a satisfying and rewarding career.
If you’re willing to take a risk, the world can be your oyster.