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I was getting ready to head out the door and my son, who was two at the time, said to me, “Daddy, where you going?”
“To work,” I replied.
I stopped and thought about it for a moment, trying to come up with an explanation a two year old could understand.
Trying to think of all the possible responses I could come up with, I said, “to help people.”
Now, my two year old asked the question of why to just about everything, but this time his question really got me thinking.
Why do we work?
Certainly, at its most basic form, we work to bring in income.
But don’t we work for more than that?
Maybe we also work to feel productive, contribute to society, feel like our lives matter, or express our talents and gifts.
Maybe all of the above.
While paying our bills is a legitimate reason to work, there is often a deeper reason we want to work.
The biggest mistake we make in our careers is to believe our work is about us.
When our work is only serving our own needs it becomes selfish, shallow, and boring.
Our work can often be a wonderful place to use and exhibit our talents and gifts, yet there is a condition.
Our talents and gifts weren’t given to us for admiration or self-actualization, they were given to serve others.
When we switch the focus of our work to serving the needs of others, it takes our work to another level – a more sublime level.
So if you’ve struggled with finding work you like, maybe try looking at your work from another angle.
Who do you want to serve?
Your answer to that question will tell you why you work.
Previously I wrote about some bad reasons to change jobs. However, there are good reasons to change jobs too. It’s no small thing to conduct a job search and change jobs so it can be difficult to know if you’re changing jobs for the right reasons.
So how do you know if you’re making the right decision? Here are 5 good reasons to change jobs.
1. You Don’t Enjoy The Work. You may have guessed this one would be on there right? If you dread getting out of bed every work day because you just don’t want to do what you’re getting paid to do, then it’s time to go. Life is too short to continue in comfortable misery when there are many options for work out there.
2. Slow Career Growth. If you’re in a job that offers little in the way of growing your career it may be time for a job change. Perhaps the skills you’re using aren’t very marketable or you’ve plateaued in the promotional career path. Whatever the reason, there is likely a time when you’ve outgrown your job. When that happens it’s time to make a move.
3. Boss and/or Team Issues. You may work for someone who you don’t like or who doesn’t like you. Or perhaps your co-workers aren’t people you enjoy being around. If it looks like you’re going to be in this environment for the foreseeable future then it may be time to do a job search. There are things you can learn and grow from in this type of situation, but if it is a sustained period you will burn out quickly.
4. Lack of Interest in the Organizational Mission. Being emotionally connected to the mission of an organization is vital to staying energized and excited about your job. If you don’t care about the mission, or worse, you disagree with the mission, it’s time to go. You’re likely disengaged with your work and you’re bringing your team, your company, and yourself down.
5. Cultural Misalignment. Take a look at the culture of the organization and determine if you seem to fit in there. You don’t want to be just like everyone else but ask yourself if the values of the organization resonate with you values. Do you like the people you work with? Do you agree with the philosophy of your leadership? If you find you are out of alignment with the culture of the company I’d recommend you begin looking elsewhere.
If you’re thinking about changing jobs and you’re experiencing any of these you’re likely making a good decision. The days of staying with one employer long term are over so it behooves you to continually evaluate your current career status against your career goals.
If your current job isn’t helping you get where you want to go then you’re on the path to getting more of the same. Take a fresh look at 1) your personality, 2) talents and skills, and 3) your values, interests, and dreams. Then you’ll be equipped to transition into the next step of your career journey.
With a new year starting you may be considering changing jobs.However, when you begin your job search you’ll begin to ask yourself, “Should I really start looking for a new job or is my current job still working for me?”
Photo Credit: Shawn Carpenter
So how do you know if it’s time to start looking for a new job? There are good reasons and bad reasons for changing jobs so here are five reasons you never want to be the primary factor when changing jobs.
1. A Title. That bigger, better, beautiful title may beckon your name and your ego. However, after about 6 months that title is still what it always was. A j-o-b. It’s work, and not all that glitters is gold. While titles may look good on a resume, if the job itself doesn’t excite you the title isn’t worth it.
2. Company Brand. While the brand of a company can be alluring, you want to make sure the company’s mission, culture, and leadership are in alignment with your personal philosophies. If you’re not in alignment with those items you won’t have the emotional connection to the bigger picture of the organization and ultimately you won’t enjoy your work.
3. Convenience. There may be a company five miles from your house or maybe there’s an opportunity down the street where you could walk to work. While this is definitely a bonus you never want this to be the only factor you consider. A short commute will never ultimately fulfill your career desires.
4. Compensation. Who would’t want more money when changing jobs? However, when this is the primary motivator for a job change you will eventually run out of excitement and energy for the actual work. When you’re in the middle of working a 50 hour week your salary isn’t usually something that meets your deepest longings.
5. Feeling Antsy. Maybe you’ve been in your current job for a few years now and you’re getting the itch to do something new and different. If you don’t know what you want to move toward, versus what you want to leave behind, you will jump from job to job in hopes of finding “the one.” You’ll be like the old U2 song, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”
Honing in on your motivation for changing jobs can be difficult when you feel ready to move on. However, taking the time to truly evaluate why you want to change jobs can mean the difference between making a wise change or a foolish change.
The good news is you’re in control of your motivation and when your reasons to make a change are strategic and thoughtful you can be confident you’ve made a good decision.
Many people dream about being able to make money as a self-employed freelancer.
However, the reality for most is you must build a bridge to self-employment while you hold a day job.
It’s not an easy bridge to build and it can sometimes seem overwhelming.
However, if you want to quit your job someday and go solo, the best way is to begin with generating income on the side while you keep your day job.
So with limited time to devote to your part-time business you must be strategic with how you go about it.
Before you can generate income follow these three steps to begin building your business on a solid foundation:
1. Know your passions, strengths, and skills. You must start with looking inward. Working a full day and then coming home to work on your side business can be tiring. If you’re not in touch with what you’re really passionate and energized about, you’ll find it really difficult to put the time into your side business.
What are you passionate about as it relates to your work? Which areas you naturally gifted and talented? What skills and experience do you have that can provide value for a customer? These are the questions you must answer first before you do anything else.
2. Identify Your Target Market. Who are the specific groups of people or businesses you serve? For example, you may serve home owners, or graphic designers, or insurance companies. The more specific the market the better. For example, if you serve home owners, you may want to filter that group by income, age, or specific aspect (i.e. homeowners with a pool, two story houses, etc.).
3. Offer them something of value. Determine what you can offer to your target market that does one of two things:
Let’s look at my target market as an example. Your customer’s problem might be they hate their job but they don’t know what else they want to do. Maybe they’ve thought about a few different options for other types of work but they just can’t seem to find the clarity to find work they love.
On the flip side, what they may want is to be paid to do work they enjoy that allows them the flexibility to devote more time to their family or personal interests. Or maybe they’ve always dreamed about working in a particular profession. Or maybe they have a passion for a specific area of life and they want to make money while engaging their passion.
So if these were your target market’s needs and desires you must offer them something of value that addresses one or both of these items. So you may offer them individual coaching, a book, an online course, or a membership site.
Take a few hours on a Saturday and go to a coffee shop to map this all out.
Don’t worry about getting it perfect because it can and will change.
However, if you don’t start with a strategic direction you’ll end up spinning your wheels, get burned out, and begin to believe you can’t make it work.
So write out your answers to the questions above and begin to visualize how you would serve other people and why they would trade their money for what you provide.
We often think there is some sort of big epiphany that occurs to jump start your business. However, the reality is it takes a little strategy, a little focus, and a lot of just doing the work.
Start with these three steps and you’ll have a solid foundation you can build on.
Have you ever felt stuck but didn’t know why? Or worse, didn’t know how to get unstuck?
Recently I had a stuck experience with marketing my book Paid To Be You. I want to market my book more effectively to get the word out but I felt like I needed to do some research on how to market it strategically. So I found some great resources and started to devour the topic of book marketing.
The problem is I love to research things to death. Give me a topic I’m interested in or are struggling with and I’ll hit every book, blog, and seminar available on the topic.
Long story short, I’ve decided to give my book away for free on Amazon as the next step of marketing my book. I made that decision and guess how long it took me to take action on it?
About three weeks.
I’m not kidding. Giving. The. Book. Away. For. Free. You’re probably thinking, uh, that sounds pretty easy Adam.
You’re right, it’s easy. However, there are many experienced people out there who say not to do it. There are also a lot of experienced people who say to do it. How do I choose? I know…more research to find the “right” answer.
Last week I decided I had enough information. What I need is action.
The Real Story
So why was I so stuck and not taking action? Although my cover story was needing more information I think it runs deeper.
I was stuck because I knew taking action meant the potential for rejection existed. Yes, giving the book away for free is easy, but what if no one downloads it? Or worse, they download it, hate it and I get twenty-five 1 star reviews?
This was the real reason I was stuck and I imagine I’m not alone.
How About You?
Have you ever experienced this? Have you stalled on taking action toward a goal because you weren’t sure you could handle it if your wish didn’t come true?
Are you staying in your current job because you might regret leaving for something new?
Have you delayed on starting a business because you may find out you don’t have what it takes to be successful in that industry?
Does your debt keep piling up because you’re afraid you won’t be able to make any headway on paying it down?
This issue can crop up in any area of our lives.
So How Do We Deal With This?
Here are three ways to effectively deal with getting stuck:
1. Pre-determine how much information you need before you’ll take action. Decide in advance what your minimum level of research is going to be. Either by a time limit or amount of information.
2. Imagine the worst case scenario. Can you live with it? What’s your back-up plan? If you can answer those questions sufficiently then you’re ready to go.
3. Do the work. There comes a time when you have to move forward in faith. If you know in your heart this is something you want and the research agrees, then get moving.
Getting stuck is a natural part of life and it can actually help us grow and learn if we navigate the experience well. If you can deal with the root cause of why you’re stuck you’ll free yourself to get where you want to go.
If you have a job, run a business, and/or work for a living in some fashion you’ve had a bad day at some point.
Maybe you’ve had a string of bad days at work and at some point begin thinking you’re unhappy.
Here’s what I’ve found to be the secret to solving this problem.
Unhinge your mood from your career.
Yes, there are jobs and careers that are a poor fit for you and you can do something about that.
Yes, your work is important and it’s often one of the best ways to use your gifts and talents.
However, your career is just one component of a life well lived.
Instead, be sure to make deposits into each of the areas of your life:
View your life from a holistic standpoint so when one area is not going well you’re not completely devastated.
Careers, like our lives, have their ups and downs. When you’ve invested in multiple areas of life you can weather the inevitable storms.
You may be in a situation where you just can’t make a change with your career. There are seasons in our lives and this may not be the right season for you to overhaul your career.
This can happen for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you are dealing with a health issue, your finances are in crisis mode, or you’ve had a major life change like having a baby or a death in the family.
For some reason you just don’t think it would be wise to make a change right now. So you feel stuck in a job you don’t love.
If you’re absolutely convinced it would make your life worse to leave your current job there is one thing you can do.
Decide to love the opportunity.*
You may not love making that call, creating that report, or serving that customer but you can love the opportunity of what doing those things might lead to later.
You may say, but I’m in a dead end job at a retail store. How can I love that opportunity?
You don’t have to love your retail job, but if it’s the beginning of gaining marketable skills and learning new ways to provide quality customer service then you can approach it in a different way.
You can decide to be grateful for the opportunity and you’re going to do the job so well you won’t be doing it long.
*This blog post has been inspired and borrowed in some parts from Jim Rohn.
In Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking she wrote about three key steps in identifying work you love.
She says one of those steps is to pay attention to what you envy.
Finally, pay attention to what you envy. Jealousy is an ugly emotion, but it tells the truth. You mostly envy those who have what you desire.”
– Susan Cain
As much as I dislike the idea of diving into such a negative space I have to admit I think she’s right. Envy is something none of us wants but, if we’re honest with ourselves, we all experience it from time to time.
Although envy is not a place we want to stay, we can use it when it thrusts itself on us.
Susan talks about her own envy when some of her former law school classmates got together and compared notes on their careers. She said most of them spoke with admiration and jealousy of a classmate who often appeared before the Supreme Court.
She realized she wasn’t envious of this person because she never wanted to argue a case before the Supreme Court or do any of the other duties of being a lawyer. So who did she envy?
Her college classmates who’d become writers and psychologists. This was her clue to discover what she wanted to pursue as a new career.
What about you? When jealousy rears it’s ugly head, what or who do you envy?
Do you feel a pang of jealousy when you get that Facebook post from your friend who is running a small non-profit in Uganda to provide clean drinking water to the people. Or is it when your sibling texts you to say she was just promoted to Vice President of regional operations?
Whatever it is for you, pay attention to it. Don’t harbor it, certainly don’t act out in a negative way, but congratulate the person and harness that emotion into something productive.
It may be the exact clue you need to discover your next career move.
Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links.
When I talk to people about the kind of work they want to do they often have a number of good ideas. However, they’re scared to make a decision and pursue one of them. They’re not sure it will be the right fit.
The Real Problem
Sometimes people aren’t really honest with themselves about who they are. They’ve spent so much time packaging themselves to the outside world to appear a certain way and they don’t really know who they are at their core. Often they know deep down how short they fall from how they want to be perceived.
How To Fix This
You need to know the wonderful parts of who you are as well as your blind spots. Although you may want to have certain characteristics, you can embrace the real you and find a higher level of success as a result. The more you understand where you shine the better equipped you’ll be to choose your next career move.
What Should You Do?
So let’s take a look at a few things you can do right now to get to know yourself better.
1. Take a personality assessment – Myers-Briggs, Disc, StrengthsFinder
2. Answer these questions about yourself:
3. Spend time doing something that energizes and excites you.
4. Observe yourself – when you make a key decision, write down what you expect will happen. Nine or twelve months later compare the results with what you expected.
5. Test yourself – put yourself in a situation that demands a lot from you. You will find out what your strengths and weaknesses are.
7. Ask your family and friends how you come across in different situations.
8. Identify what you truly value in life.
You can probably come up with ten other ideas that will help you understand yourself more and make a solid career decision. The better understanding you have of how you’re wired, you can make an informed decision about what you want to do next in your career.
So you hate your job? You’re not alone. Statistics show that 70% of Americans hate their jobs.
You may have resolved to find a new job this year, but in the meantime here are 3 ways to make your job slightly more enjoyable until you find a better fit.
Find the good in your work.
What does your current job do for you? It obviously pays you.
There is one good thing to be thankful for. Have you gained any friendships in this current job? How about more experience? What about the lesson of knowing what you don’t want?
Yes that’s actually a good thing because it aids in the process of discovering what you would love to do for work. Having knowledge of what you don’t want and understanding why you don’t want it will actually set you up for greater success in finding fulfillment in your next job.
Take on new challenges.
Perhaps you feel under-challenged in your position. You don’t feel like you are operating in your full talents, skills and abilities and that troubles you.
Find ways to enhance your skills or actually operate in the ones you have-even if you don’t use them daily at work. Start a committee or volunteer to do an in-service training on an area of interest that could be beneficial to the company. Offer to help the business with a social media campaign.
I personally have done all of the above and it has helped tremendously in my transition. I look forward to breaking the mundane, same old tasks by taking on new challenges and projects.
Talk to your supervisor about your struggles.
A good supervisor and healthy organization will welcome their staff being open and honest about the struggles of the job. Maybe certain tasks bore you and you enjoy other ones. Maybe your supervisor can help you have more responsibility for the tasks you do enjoy.
It won’t be perfect but at least it’s something. You are taking responsibility to make your time left in your current position as bearable as possible (and maybe even enjoyable) until you can transition out.
I know it can be tough staying in a job you don’t love. Until you identify what you would love to do and develop a clear plan of action to go and get it you will need to hang in there.
Unless the job is asking you to do something unethical and is an abusive/toxic environment the wisest thing for you is to stay until you find something else. If it is really bad and you need to get out quickly then find something that may be less than ideal in the next 30 days so you have a paycheck.
You don’t want to put yourself in a place of desperation. You do have bills to pay.
If you are really stuck- invest in a career coach.
If you are interested in working with Stephanie click here.