Sometimes it feels like you’re blindly following a path laid before you, moving from job to job or promotions without really finding fulfilment. All of a sudden, you look around you and you discover that you’re not truly happy or fulfilled and you’re not quite sure how you ended up there. You feel stuck and try to rationalize this career path, justifying your unhappiness because of the comfort and security you get from the position. However, this is not the right way to live and it’s not too late to make a big change that will increase your happiness. Here are some steps to follow that will help you break free.
1. Write down the pros and cons.
This is a great first step when you’re just starting to think about leaving an unfulfilling career. If you make a list of the best and worst things about your job, it will help you have a conversation about it with your boss if you decide to stay or identify what is making you unhappy and what you’re truly looking for. You can clearly see the impact your job is having on you and what you can do to change it.
2. Leave your comfort zone.
Angela McGovern, a career blogger at Writinity and Last Minute Writing, says that “one of the main reasons people don’t take the big step of leaving their unfulfilling career is their reluctance to leave their comfort zone or push the boundaries a bit. Instead, you make emotional compromises and sacrifice things you shouldn’t have to sacrifice. It’s time to push back against this perception and take that first step.”
3. Put company memories behind you.
Once you’ve made your pro and con list and assessed the situation, the decision will often be that you should leave this position. Rhys Philipps, a recruiter at Draft Beyond and Research Papers UK, shares that “the trouble here is that the good aspects of your job might make you doubt your choice, but this is when you need to stay strong and keep your mind on the opportunities that lie ahead instead of the past memories of your position. Just like a relationship breakup, this a crucial step for you to be able to accept this change and not revert back to your unsatisfying job.”
4. Take time to self-explore.
You have to understand why you feel unfulfilled in the first place so you can question what would make you happier. Sit back and take some serious time to ask yourself heavy questions:
What are you good at?
What have people told you you’re good at?
What did you enjoy in the past that you haven’t committed time to recently?
What activities do you do for hours that go by very quickly?
What career paths have you dismissed in the past because you thought they were impossible?
Thinking about these questions and their different answers will get you thinking about where you could focus your efforts to find a job that is more meaningful to you.
5. Surround yourself by like-minded or positive people.
If you surround yourself with people who are ambitious, positive, and supportive, it will push you to do more, not give up, and not settle. This is the best thing for you to do at this stage in your life. Once you’ve discovered your ideal career, as outlined in point 4, reach out to people in that field and you’ll see that many of them would be interested in sharing their journey with you. Don’t be shy about finding a mentor. Meanwhile, review all your existing relationships, both personal and professional, and don’t hesitate to cut away any negative relationships that might be holding you back.
6. Put happiness before money.
It can be hard to step away from an unfulfilling position when you’re receiving a great salary and benefits. However, if your job is depressing you and your happiness and joy of life have all but disappeared, you need to seriously think about whether that paycheck is worth it. Even if your dream job won’t give you as much money as your current job, the benefits you’ll get from being motivated, happy and passionate about your work will more than makeup for it. Now you’ve gotten to this point, what are you waiting for?