You were so excited when you got the offer! Now…. just a few weeks or months into it, you’re miserable. Every day is a chore, just to get out of bed and get motivated to get to work.
So – what do you do? Your first reaction is just to quit and crawl into a hole. You made a big deal of this first job upon graduation. You were so excited and proud you had landed it! Or perhaps, this isn’t your first job and you left another job to take this one. No matter what the circumstances, it’s a difficult reality when the shiny new job is not what you expected it would be.
When it’s painfully obvious that it’s not working, it can be difficult (or even sometimes feel impossible) to determine what to do next. Each day, your energy is zapped with just getting through the day. How in the world are you going to find a new job when you are completely depleted by each workday’s end?
But don’t despair. Beating yourself up doesn’t help to resolve anything… but healthy evaluation and a good plan will. I mean, just think about it – everyone makes mistakes. Some of the most famous and successful people we can name – Abraham Lincoln, J. K. Rowling, Steve Jobs, and many, many others, had failures (big failures) and still went on to achieve greatness. It’s about continuing to move forward in a positive direction. So here are some tips to help you start moving towards a job that works better for you.
1) First, take heart in all of the good things in your life. It could feel like small stuff to you at this point, but no matter how small, be sure to acknowledge and nurture these things. Having a roof over your head, being healthy, having close friends or a supportive spouse or partner are all things that we can easily take for granted. Acknowledge these positives each day. By focusing on and acknowledging them, you’ll prevent yourself from going into the spiral that your life is going to hell in a handbasket!
2) Next, consider what the real problem is at work. Is it your manager? Is it something or someone within the organization? Is it the work itself? Understanding what is not working is key to taking the right next step and ensuring you don’t step into the same pile of manure when you do make a change.
3) If there is a realistic opportunity to correct what is not working in your current job without having to change jobs or leave your current employer, you should give strong consideration to pursuing such an avenue first. For example, if someone within the organization is making your life at work miserable, is there a way to cure that problem without leaving the organization?
4) If you need to change employers to fix the problem, you should take stock of your current situation. Could you go without a job for some period of time? You need to think through this question from both a financial and emotional standpoint. Are you in an organization where a transfer is a possibility? You need to understand where you are before you begin moving.
5) When you have addressed the above questions, it is time to determine what a more meaningful job could look like. Do you know what your passion is? How about your greatest strengths? What type of work environment do you prefer? You have to answer these questions before making a move. This is hard work and can take time. Move through the inertia and figure out what success looks like for you. Begin to develop that picture in your mind. This isn’t about someone else’s definition of meaningful work- it’s about yours. Through the use of journaling, assessments and evaluation of what you like and dislike, you can develop a clear picture of what it is you want. If you like, consult See Steve Vogel’s blog “Choosing The Right Career Takes Work” for additional information. And keep in mind, that the picture of an enjoyable job will be fuzzy at first. Get it on paper – in any form – and keep working it. This process is usually like turning on a light with a dimmer switch. It takes time, but it becomes brighter (and more clear) each time you keep coming back to it. So, spend time each week working on it. And, if you are saying, “I just don’t have the time or energy”, then make the time – even if it is just 15-20 minutes each week – to move forward and create this picture. It’s the vision you need to move forward in the right direction.
6) Finally, stay professional. Don’t go talking to your co-workers about the stuff you hate about your job. Focus on getting your work done each day in a positive manner. Continue to build relationships. Being professional and positive are keys to success as you proceed through this process – whether you determine you are staying or leaving the organization. If you must vent, find a safe place outside of work, with someone you trust.
Being in the right job brings joy and energy to your life. Being in the wrong job does just the opposite. Remember that no job is perfect, and there will always be challenges. Understanding what it is you want in a job – from the job duties, to the level of responsibility, to the environment – are all pieces to the puzzle that you must fit together if you are going to find the “right” job for you.