(Read time: 4 minutes)
Flashing back to 2013. I graduated from my Masters program at Columbia. After years of networking and building relationships, and months of preparing for the interview, I had secured my dream job.
I had reached THE GOAL, I had set for myself and couldn’t be happier.
Months rolled by and slowly but surely – I began to hear a little voice. The voice told me I wasn’t fulfilled. The voice told me I wanted more. I ignored it. I had worked so hard and come so far to be here. Was I just having a bad day? A bad week? Was I being ridiculous? Was the everyday grind getting to me? Was I in fact being weak minded and expecting things to be easier? Thousands of people would give their left hand to work at this organization. I continued to ignore “the voice”.
But then months later I heard “the voice” again. It spoke louder this time. It was clear, I was unhappy. I needed a change but I felt stuck. I felt like I didn’t have a choice. If my job felt unfulfilling, I would just have to deal with it. I didn’t feel I had any power to change my circumstances. I didn’t think that leaving and changing direction was actually an option.
I know that may sound strange, but I really didn’t feel like I had a choice. This was the career I chose and the job I had my eyes set on for two years. I felt I would have to learn to get used to it. I would have to make it work. I would have to make it “fit”.
Can you relate?
I wrote this post because I wanted to remind you, that you ALWAYS have a choice – even when you feel like you don’t – even when you feel your family is depending on you and you can’t “take the risk”, even when you believe you can’t afford it, even when (insert fear or excuse here). We always have a choice and this simple realization gives us our power back.
What are some ways you can deal if you feel stuck?
- Realize that you have a choice – Most people believe a job is something we must go to, since living life requires constant payment and they feel powerless because of this. A recent Gallup Survey determined that 70 percent of people don’t like their job. If you are not fulfilled by your job, you are not alone. The problem is most people accept this. They buy into the idea that “work is work” and may even feel it is “normal” not to be fully engaged.
- Surround yourself with people who have a different mindset – If you are one of the people that is experiencing the above, the next step is to change your environment. You should find a community of people who think differently and believe that change is possible. There are many ways to do this on the internet. By searching and attending networking events, or joining book clubs, or workshops you are bound to meet people with similar interests.
- Feed your mindset – If there are group of people who think differently, chances are there are other resources that are out there. Maybe there are books you could read, or workshops you can attend to learn more about the actions you should take to find a more fulfilling path. What have others done before you? Identify role models and mentors who can help support your growth and learn as much as you can from them.
- Be patient with yourself/give yourself permission for exploration – When I was younger, I was always on some timeline. I expected myself to complete steps A-Z and if there was ever some deviation from the plan I was always horrified that I was wasting time. For example, when I graduated from undergrad during the recession I didn’t have a full time job lined up (actually a lot of students didn’t). I applied to 100 jobs everyday! I had a process in place and it was still difficult to land a full time gig. When I finally got a job, I was underemployed. I immediately decided to go to grad school. I got into grad school but would you believe me if I told you I was really hard on myself for “wasting a year”. I felt the year between undergrad and grad, had not gone according to plan and that essentially I was wasting time. But now I know, I wasn’t wasting time at all. I was developing valuable job seeking skill sets during that time, learning how to problem solve creatively, how to deal with rejection, and how to be more resilient.
In real life, sometimes we face unpredictable challenges and issues. If we find ourselves in a position where we aren’t as fulfilled by our jobs as we thought we might be we must give ourselves permission to explore. Some people fear doing so because they worry that if they deviate, they might miss out on opportunities to increase their salary or get promoted. But, if you are spending time asking the RIGHT questions, and exploring the answers – if you end up finding a job that is more fulfilling – are you really wasting time?