As the year winds down, we often get reflective about the career situations we’re in and what may lie ahead. Hopefully, this repost from early in 2010 might help you reset your focus and get out from under.
It’s amazing how our careers can start out in one place and morph to another.
It’s all so gradual that we hardly know it’s happening until one day we realize that we’re someplace that we don’t want to be. Or, more often, a place that’s crushing us.
I have a talented friend who was hired by a huge company two years ago in marketing communications. After a few months, the department downsized and the work doubled as sales needed more and more marketing materials to cut through the barriers of a tight economy. The demands on my friend accelerated. Other staffers weren’t pulling their weight. So her days got longer and longer.
Has this happened to you? It has to me. I thought it would be my demise.
Feeling trapped in your job, paralyzes your ability to make changes.
Our jobs can’t trap us but we can convince ourselves that they do. After all, we go to work every day by choice. It only takes a letter or a word to say, “Bye, bye.”
It’s really our personal situations that create the bind. When we have dependents, debts, health issues, and family commitments, we need to keep our jobs, even when they’re wrong for us.
The demands of our personal lives, coupled with the stresses of our jobs, can drive us to an airless place. Here’s how we often feel:
- · Exhausted and unable to think analytically
- · Defeated and unable to fathom any options
- · Imprisoned by the workload and the realities of our lives
Truth is: There are always other options. They may require some creativity, planning, repositioning, and timing, but they exist.
The struggle is: If you’re exhausted from your “work life,” the idea of exploring options, solving problems, and firing up your smothered optimism at the end of the day is too much.
So what to do? Start small and focus on yourself.
- Make a list of the little things that make you feel uplifted (15 minutes of quiet time, an outing with a friend, a short walk, a few flowers in a vase). Give yourself at least one daily.
- Make two lists about your job: Things I Have to Do and Things That Can Wait (Maybe Forever). Smart employees negotiate work output with their supervisors. If you don’t explain what can and cannot get done reasonably, your supervisor will expect it all. We are not mules unless we agree to be. Heehaw!
- Take a hard look at your personal situation and come up with ways to reduce your obligations and a timetable for how long you believe you need this job. Doing this will help you feel more empowered, since you’re now staying for your personal business reasons. (Your life is your business, remember?)
- Then, develop a career change strategy—one that you will implement while you still have a job. Do this with your timeline in mind and a focus on work that fits you.
You always have options and choices.
None of us much cares for change because it’s disruptive. We operate too often on the principle that “The devil we know is better than the one we don’t.” This can make us our own worst enemy.
Small steps are important steps because they add up. The more you take, the farther you get. Each one helps you get more business fit.
Getting help can be a really worthwhile investment. You’ll probably only need a leg up and then you’ll be on your way. I’m rootin’ for ya’!
Do you have an “I feel trapped in my job” story to share or an “I escaped” one? Your story might help others.
Photo from sevgi.k via Flickr