A Hard Look at Your Career

stareI recently asked you to look at how you really want to feel while you work. I was pleasantly surprised by the reactions in the comment section. One comment was almost as long as the original post.

Too often we don’t think about how we really want to feel and what it takes to make this a reality. We put our heads down and keep ignoring what is happening in our careers.

I know this is the technique very well, I used it for the longest time. Ignorance is bliss, right?

It is until you keep grinding and you look up and realize how much you dislike your life and career. That’s when your life is spinning so fast and out of control that you don’t know how to make it stop.

If you are unhappy at work you need to create a plan to change this.

Where to begin?

You have to begin at the beginning.

Simple and yet so hard to do.

You have to look at why you haven’t been able to leverage your superskills. Those skills that you are passionate about, you lose track of time when you are in the middle of using these skills and those skills that come so easy to you they don’t feel like work.

I recently asked a coaching client a question that really stumped her.

I asked her, “I’m going to give you a two option scenario. You pick the one that you would prefer. Option 1 – You will die in 3 months and you can do anything you want with the money you have saved up, visit any country, create any experience. Option 2 – You will die in 1 year, but you have to stay at your job. You put in your regular hours, so that means you have weekends and vacation days to do whatever you want. You have to stay at your job for the entire year. ”

I paused for a good 2 seconds.

Then I asked her, “Which one do you choose?”

She was silent on the other end of the phone. I waited. I knew she was really giving this some considerable thought.

She said, “I guess I would choose to live for another year.”

I asked, “Why?”

She said, “Well…I would miss my family too much. I would miss my dog. I would still be able to eat good food. I would even miss some of my co-workers.”

I asked, “How does that make you feel?” (I know typical coaching question. J)

She said, “It makes me think about how I look at my job. I take it for granted and don’t think about all the positives that it offers me. I think also that looking at my life as if I would die within a year would help me focus on what is truly enjoyable instead of what stuff I hate.”

Too often we don’t think about the importance of our mindset.

“How you look at things is just as important as doing those things.”
– Chris Brogan

Your job might not be ideal, but it’s still work that pays the bills, challenges you to improve and gives you some positive outcomes. If you aren’t happy at work you need to work on this mindset then begin to work on your superskills.

How do you view your job? As an opportunity or an anchor? (Let me know in the comments section.)

I know that you can improve your present job and my hope is that you come away with a clear plan on how to make it happen.

8 thoughts on “A Hard Look at Your Career”

  1. Hi Karl,

    It’s a good thing you didn’t present me with that choice: I probably would have opted for neither and suggested a third option! 🙂 It’s a great exercise for putting things into perspective and helping one see where we might be focusing on the negative instead of looking at what’s working in our lives overall. On the other hand, if we suddenly find ourselves fixated on “what’s wrong” and it’s causing us some pain, we need to sit with that for a bit,tap into our inner wisdom/voice, and honour what it has to say.

    I don’t think any job is ever perfect or “ideal”, so I think the questions we need to ask ourselves are: “Okay, it’s not ideal but is it a good enough fit where, over and above the compensation package, I am given or able to make the opportunities to take on meaningful, challenging projects and the office culture is emotionally healthy? On average, do I feel contented and at peace with myself and my work at the end of the day/week?” If the answer is a resounding no to either of these questions, then the saner choice might be to start looking around for something else rather than staying in a place that will slowly destroy your health and your soul. It’s scary to make changes, but it’s even harder to cope with the profound physical and emotional effects of chronic, intense stress.

  2. Interestingly, I would choose 3 months and take my savings to do whatever I choose. I’m pondering my response. I would like a whole lot more free time right now, without the threat of death. 9 Extra months without the ability to experience more than work doesn’t seem worth it to me.

    I must say that I do appreciate my work. Other than income, it provides creative expression, camaraderie, structure, and many opportunities to learn new things. However, I want more time 🙂

  3. Karl Staib - The Work Happy Guy

    Hi Sue, You ask a great question. If it’s not ideal, but still gives more compensation – emotionally, spiritually and monetarily then it’s worth it. The hard question then becomes how long can you stay? What type of plan do you have to grow where you are and build a resume that will allow you to find work that matches your superskills.

    I love how you break it down. It’s best to take a bird’s eye view of the situation, so you can weigh everything that is a part of the equation.

  4. Karl Staib - The Work Happy Guy

    Hi Nneka, That is interesting. I’m surprised because you have a good job that you appreciate.

    I agree that the allure of traveling is very tempting. To be able to see sights that very few other people do is a wonderful treat.

    It’s why I asked her this question to see if she would find some insight into your career mindset.

  5. Hi Karl — good to see you again. In my own case, I use any “work” activities I do apart from working on my musical solely to fund the show. Ideally, the funds for the show will start coming from “non-me” sources once I have excerpts to showcase to investors, and I can start working on shows full time. We’ll see what happens.

  6. Hi Karl,

    I happen to love my job so I choose Option #2. Up until 10 years ago I would have chosen Option #1 in a heartbeat if I didn’t have children to support.

    Changing my perception helped me to make the transition to doing something I love. I couldn’t have done it without this change.

    I had to spend time focusing on the path I wanted to take and once I began, I was able to take small action steps…As long as I was in the space of only complaining how much I hated my job I knew I would never change.

  7. Hi Karl,
    Agree that how we view things is as important as doing the things. I have seen friends who are always looking for the “perfect” job and would choose to leave when the job does not meet their expectations in the slightest manner. Is leaving the best option? Does it guarantee that they would not face similar issues in the next job?

    Avoiding the problem does not help. The same problem may surface again. Instead, adapt to the situation, overcome the challenges and we will emerge stronger.

  8. Rovie - Career Choice

    This is such an inspiring post and also serves as a wake up call for those people who don’t appreciate their current jobs.

Comments are closed.