I’ve come across several people of different generations recently who are not happy with where they find themselves in their careers. The common theme expressed is ‘I’m stuck in a rut and don’t know how to get out of here’ and ‘I don’t want to be bullied out’. The unspoken themes are
- ‘I’m not taking this anymore’
- ‘I’m scared of changing direction after everything I’ve invested going down this path’
- ‘I don’t want to let other people down’
- ‘I know it’s time to leave but I don’t know what to do next or how’.
Losing your mojo is not fun. The effect on your wellbeing can be corrosive and can lead to stress, depression and burnout. You can’t see a way out when you’re in the thick of it and can start to catastrophise as a cry for help. I met someone who hated their job so much they hoped a car would knock them down on the way to work so they wouldn’t be able to get there. A colleague in a previous job fantasised about crashing their car deliberately (he got help). They stepped on to the edge of a cliff and had that momentary thought.
Are you stuck on career tramlines in a single direction, unable to deviate or to loosen the grip?
The most repeated reason for career disillusion I hear is
I want to be in control of my life, rather than be controlled.
Hidden in that plea is something about being valued for what you want to be valued for and a desire for an emotional connection to people and purpose.
There has been a paradigm shift in the last 20 years in how people feel about work. Back then, you were grateful for a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, the compliant child of a benevolent patriarchal organisation. Now that parent seems more like a tired tyrant, out of sync with our needs and desires. Rampant individualism allied to overwhelming choice has opened the stable (sic) door.
We are becoming more aware of the damage that can be done, not just to our own wellbeing, but to our families, friends and colleagues. ‘I’m not going to take this anymore’ results in fight or flight responses. Being healthily assertive is key to addressing the poor behaviour of other people at work or finding a different job and career direction.
Do you wait to be pushed or is it carpe diem? What is your threshold point for taking action, that moment when you realise you hate your job?
The wake-up call comes at different times for each of us in our working lives. It can happen when your self-esteem might be at its lowest. It’s difficult to hear and respond to your internal call to action if you don’t value yourself and others. And it’s often not a quick fix. Building inner solidity and renewal is a process that varies from person to person.
Create Options, Then Act
In this day and age of cat memes, feel-good sound bites, short attention spans and where visual is queen, I took a look at some positive affirmations from my Pinterest board, Learning to Leap. Yes, some are cliches – overused and trite – yet they can appeal when they resonate for your particular situation (‘thinking inside the box’, lol). Here are 6:
I’d temper Shaw’s quote by saying be more of who you really are, with skill. Play up to your strengths, manage your weaknesses. Reflect the breadth of your personality in pursuit of what you really want.
According to Dr Travis Bradberry of Talentsmart, studies show that
people who feel that they control the events in their lives (more than the events control them) and are confident in their abilities end up doing better on nearly every important measure of work performance.
Bottom line? With support: listen for your alarm bell, anticipate and prepare yourself for dealing with change, practise self-care, recognise your value to yourself and to others, gain clarity on direction and purpose, create options and take action to evolve for a different present.