What To Do If You End Up In A Career You Don’t Enjoy

Lack of fulfillment in a career often evokes the question, “How did I end up in a career I don’t enjoy?”

If you have asked yourself this question, or one similar to it, your best option is to explore your core reasons for feeling frustrated. Then, based on your reflections, you can take steps to increase your enjoyment or change your unfulfilling career.

My clients often come to career development coaching because they feel out of alignment with their priorities and values in life. If their career has been chosen based on other people’s values or their own limiting beliefs, a misalignment can almost be guaranteed. But it can be corrected by determining exactly what provides the greatest career satisfaction and taking steps to maximize it.

The biggest obstacles in this situation are “must and should” beliefs. Beliefs on what you must do and what you should do cloud the situation and make it almost impossible to decide on the most effective course of action.

Here are a few ways that must and should beliefs might have taken over:

  • Choosing this particular career wasn’t your idea at all.
  • In order to pay student loans or provide financial support to your family, you focused on quickly obtaining a substantial, regular income.
  • A focus on developing your full potential wasn’t high on your boss’ agenda.
  • You only developed your hard skills for your career enhancement, and as a result, brought imbalance into your soft skill development.
  • There’s a misalignment between your values and the company’s, resulting in lack of commitment to the company’s vision and mission.
  • Feeling stressed at work became overwhelming and caused you to lose work-lifestyle balance.
  • Loss of work-lifestyle balance impacted your state of mind and affected your mental well-being.

    Is your reason listed above? Or is it something else? By becoming aware of your reason and accepting it, you will be able to focus on the need for a career change, or perhaps the lack of a need for one. In order to clearly see this change, you need to keep your focus on wanting it.

    Remember the conversation between Alice in Wonderland and the Cat?

    “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” said Alice.

    “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

    “I don’t much care where,” said Alice.

    “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

    Just so, You must determine where you want to go before you start planning your trip. In other words, you must identify your gifts and values before you can embark on a journey of evaluation and change. Know exactly what your motivators are and allow those motivators to provide direction.

    If, unlike Alice, you want to have direction, you need to know two basic things:

    What are your motivators in life? Do you value helping others, achieving pinnacles, receiving awards, growing people, building teams, inventing something, discovering the new, etc.?
    What is your mindset as a sculptor of your career? Do you understand your goals in life and feel aligned with them? If not, it is necessary to prioritize and determine exactly what is most important for you. Only after the lowest priority items have been discarded in order to make room for high-priority items can you move forward in sculpting your career.
    Owning or creating your unique career requires clarity about your priorities, connecting to your intuition, testing your potential career ideas and realizing a career’s meaning. By answering the two questions above, you can stop asking, “What does the world offer me?“ and instead ask, “What can I offer to the world?”

    To explore this further, here are six simple questions that will help you get on track. Answer them in one sentence, and by doing so, you will learn a lot more about the direction in which you want to take your career and will experience new clarity and confidence.

  • Who am I?
  • What do I offer to others?
  • To whom do I offer this?
  • What do those people need?
  • What do they receive from my offering?
  • How do they change as a result of my offering?

    How does it make me feel answering questions 1-6?

    If answering these questions makes you feel like celebrating your career, you are on right track. If you feel like anything but celebrating, it’s time to focus on your reason for discontent. By procrastinating and not facing up to your need for change, you will continue to live an unfulfilled life.

    But it need not be that way!

    You were born to be happy and have a fulfilled life. However, it doesn’t happen automatically. A life without purpose and goals is a life adrift. Be the sculptor of your career — achieve mastery, not drift — where you follow your motivators and eliminate what is not working for you. When Michelangelo created “David,” he knew he was about to create a masterpiece, even though others only saw a huge piece of rough marble.

    The right career will give you a sense of purpose and fulfillment, so be the best career sculptor you can be! Start by examining your priorities in life, listening to your inner being and reflecting on the answers. By identifying the right career for yourself, your purpose in life will come shining through!

    This article was originally published in Forbes.

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