Been in the wrong job too long? Try these four steps

Been in the wrong job too long?

Been in the wrong job too long?

If you are feeling unappreciated, undervalued, unmotivated or generally dissatisfied at work, then now might be the time to reassess your job or career.

The part of my role as a career coach that I like least is seeing people who are full of regret because they have spent years of their lives in jobs they don’t like. The flip-side to that is the elation and joy I see in them once they have made a move into one they are much better suited to.

So what makes people stay in the wrong career or job for so long? Why not reassess and look for something else? I find that it usually comes down to one or more of the following. They are either:

  • too busy
  • too tired
  • too scared, or
  • don’t know what else they would rather do.

And I understand that. It is very easy to get caught up in the day to day, and few of us take time out of our busy working lives to reflect on what we really want to be doing.

It’s also common to feel completely drained of energy when working day after day for a company or a boss you’d rather not be working for.

And if you have stayed too long working in a place where you don’t feel valued or appreciated, or have felt down-right bullied, then your confidence is likely to be at rock bottom. It’s hard to muster up the courage it takes to start a fresh career or job from that position.

As far as not knowing what else they would rather be doing – again, understandable when they have been too busy to put some dedicated time aside to find out.

Try these four steps

If you can relate to any of the symptoms described above, here’s what you can do:

1. Take time out to reflect

Operating on auto-pilot is unlikely to provide any great insights. As Albert Einstein said: “Without deep reflection, one knows from daily life that one lives for other people”. With the holiday season coming up, it’s a great time to think about the kind of life you want to be living and reassess whether your current job is fulfilling your needs.

2. Rediscover what gives you energy

Reconnect with what it is that energises you. When was the last time you were so absorbed in what you were doing that you completely lost track of time? What were you doing? Look for clues from moments like those. And then do more of that. If you can find ways to spend more time doing what energises you, you are more likely to muster the energy you need to make positive changes.

3. Gain confidence by taking action

So many people think they will take action once they feel confident, but it doesn’t work that way. Confidence comes from doing, not thinking. I realise this can be easier said than done, but take small steps and your confidence will build. What's one thing you can do today that will lead you a step closer to a more positive work life?

4. Ask yourself what you would  do if nothing stood in your way

I find that, through the coaching process, once people allow themselves to imagine what they would do if they believed they could make a success of it, they actually have the answer to what they would rather be doing for a living. Then it’s a matter of identifying the barriers and digging deep to illuminate the mindsets or fears that might be standing in the way of actually making it happen.

As I said in a recent blog, the process is a little more complex than that, but the point is – the answer to what we ought to be doing is essentially within each of us. Sometimes we just need a little help to uncover it.

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About the author: Lucy Sanderson-Gammon, MBA, is a Wellington-based career coach helping mid-career professionals who have fallen out of love with their jobs to find meaningful work. Find out more about Lucy's coaching services here.