Being Real About Your Career- 8 Questions To Ask Yourself

  1. Do you want to be doing the same work next year? in 5 years? in 10 years?
  2. Do you enjoy your work?
  3. Are you valued in your current position?
  4. Do you find meaning in your work?
  5. Is there a clear growth path for your career?
  6. Are you learning in your current position? Is it challenging but not overly-challenging?
  7. Is there a sense of community?
  8. Do you have time and energy to focus on your favorite aspects of your career?

Being honest with yourself about these questions is a good place to start. It's easy to fall into limiting thoughts like "I'm lucky to even have a job", "I can't make any changes now because my paycheck is supporting me (and my family)" and "no one really likes their job- that's why they call it work". Sometimes we deceive ourselves about our discontent because it's uncomfortable. Admitting how you truly feel is very freeing- even if you don't yet know how to change it.

If you answered "no" to any or all of the questions above you're not alone. Only 30% of workers feel engaged at work according to a recent article "Why You Hate Work" in the NY Times. Engagement at work is loosely defined as "involvement, commitment, passion, enthusiasm, focused effort and energy" according to the article. Engagement is good news but it's not the whole story- it doesn't necessarily imply happiness and fulfillment at work. For example, I believe you can be engaged at work yet not fulfilled on a deeper level. So there's a lot of room for growth. 

Why spend most of our lives doing something we don't enjoy? Plus we're spending more time working than ever. According to the recent article "Finding Happiness At Work"-  "In addition to the average 47 hours of work each week, 80 percent of Americans report working "after hours" for roughly seven hours per week on average--amounting to an entire extra day of work per week." Now more than ever if we're unhappy at work, it's nearly impossible to be happy and fulfilled in the other parts of our lives.

In my opinion, one of the most important goals to strive for in life is loving our work. I know, from my own experience as well as my experience coaching others, that it's completely possible to create work you love. Here's one of my favorite quotes about work and play:

A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.
— L.P. Jacks, 1932

At first, it helps to find role models- people who have figured out how to live lives they love. Doing this helps you see that if it's possible for some then it's possible for you. Then it's about committing to do the work step by step. However, there has to be space in your life to do that. It's a matter of saying no to time-wasters and yes to things that nurture your spirit. There's a magic that happens when you commit to working on a solution. This is another one of my favorite quotes:

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!’
— W. H. Murray in The Scottish Himalaya Expedition, 1951

Here's a summary as well as some new tips to help you get you started:

  • Be honest about how you feel about your work
  • Seek out role models that help you believe change is possible
  • Notice limiting thoughts and don't believe them, allow yourself to imagine without judgement
  • Know that it's not necessary to figure out the end result before starting
  • Take small steps at night or on weekends
  • Create space in your life by eliminating time-wasters and adding things that nurture your spirit
  • Get help and support
  • Investigate subjects you're curious about or current issues you're passionate about
  • Do your best in your current situation or job
  • Stay positive by being grateful for where you are while working on your next chapter
  • Stop all negative conversations- complaining, gossiping, comparing
  • Step away from the computer, cell phone, social media, TV, etc. 
  • Get moving, exercising moves stuck energy
  • Go outside, most people are starved for more nature
  • Don't talk about your new career ideas until they're no longer susceptible to other's fears and judgements
  • Remember- you're either working toward closing the gap or you're not

Admittedly, closing the gap between where you are and where you want to be can seem like a daunting task. Sometimes the easiest and fastest way is to ask for help. There's a reason the industry of Personal & Life Coaching has grown so quickly over the last 15 years- it works. Coaching is a powerful one-on-one relationship that helps people move past their obstacles and reach their potential. Just as traditional therapy focuses on a person's past, coaching focuses on a person's future. There's a tendency to think you can do it yourself but it's been proven that having a coach can make the process much easier and faster. After a few short months of coaching, my clients report tremendous shifts. I'm extremely passionate about helping people avoid the pain and struggle that can come with career transition (as well as other transitions, see Services for more details) and find fulfillment in all areas of their life. 

It is my sincere wish that you experience happiness in work and life. I'm deeply grateful for my own experience and for the teachers who helped me along my path. I would be honored to help you on your path. Click here to learn about my Services