According to the 2014 State of the American Workplace Report, 51% of U.S. employees were “not engaged” in their career. With over half of Americans feeling like they just go through the motions in their job, if you find yourself complaining about work or zoning out, know you are not alone. That fact in and of itself may make you worry you can never feel engaged in any job. However, as we know from working with our career coaching clients and their enthusiasm when they identify their ideal career, it is possible to have a job you truly enjoy and are excited about. These three tips can help you take control of your career today, and begin to define the right fit for you!
#1: Recognize that your job is not your identity. While our careers are important to us and should be because they pay our bills, they are not, and should not be, the only thing that defines us. Do two things to shift your perspective here. 1) Make a list of the other roles you play in your life. Write down why they are important to you and the impact you have on others. For example, are you a parent? In what ways is that rewarding for you, and what are three positive impacts you have on your children? Are you a member of an association or group? What impact do you have there? 2) Focus on what you are grateful for in your life outside of work. What else gives you meaning and a sense of purpose outside of your job? Beginning to define yourself in multiple ways, not just by what you do work-wise, will help you break out of being defined by your career. This will allow you to consider other possible career paths that might be better for you. And focusing on what you are grateful for now will help you have a more positive attitude. If you only focus on what you haven’t accomplished, or why you don’t enjoy your current job, it will be difficult for you to take positive action steps towards your career goals.
Action Step: Take 30 minutes tonight to identify three other roles you play in your life and three things that you are grateful for in your life, and even in your career if you can come up with some. Your list could include your family or friends, a place you have visited, a pet, or something else altogether. When you focus on gratitude and the other areas you have an impact on in your life, you will begin shift into a positive frame of mind and see yourself as larger than your career.
#2: Identify and leverage your strengths. Think about what you are naturally good at and what you enjoy doing at work — but also outside of work. What are your natural talents? Make a list, asking friends or family members if you need additional ideas. Now ask yourself: Are you currently using any of those strengths at your job? Are there any other strengths you could further incorporate into your current position? If you aren’t tapping into your talents and strengths at work, your job will not be a fit for you in the long term. (Take this Career Quiz to find out if your job is a fit or not). To take control of your career, identify the top five strengths you want to use at work and either find a way to incorporate them into your current position or make a decision to move on.
Action Step: Write down your strengths. Identify which strengths you would love to use every day. From your answers, determine what goals you can set in the next month to use those strengths in your current job or what kind of job would better leverage those strengths if it’s time to move on. Ask a career coach, friend, or family member to validate your answers.
#3: State what you want. 80% of success comes from being clear on where you are headed in the first place. Most people stay in jobs they don’t enjoy and get stuck simply because they don’t know what would be better. One of the ways to begin to define your ideal career is to define what success means to you personally and professionally and what you want out of your career. Make a list. Include anything from salary to aspects of the work environment to your ideal boss and anything else you want to accomplish. Athletes who visualize their success and believe they will succeed are more likely to achieve their dreams. You can do this as well for your career. Define your career goals and believe you can make it happen. (Find out the eight things you need to consider to define the right career here.)
Action Step: If you were guaranteed success, what level of your career would you be in right now? What does success look like for you? What is stopping you? Determine what next steps you need to take to work towards that next level or a different career path. Use the steps above as well as input from your superiors, a mentor, or a coach. Start today!
Remember, the greatest risk in life is not taking one. Spending too much time in a job you don’t enjoy is not necessary. Changing jobs or careers takes time, energy, and effort; it’s not a quick fix. But the rewards of enjoying going to work every day are worth it. Take control of your career now!
Set up a Complimentary Career Strategy Session with Hallie Crawford today to get advice on your career goals.