“You can’t go back and change the beginning,
but you can start where you are and change the ending” C.S. Lewis
I have found in my professional experience as coach that many clients are searching for guidance in deciding their next step in their professional life. Most of them feel unfulfilled in their current position and are seeking new avenues. They manifest unhappiness, demotivation, and emptiness.
Oftentimes, they are working on a “transactional” assignment, an activity that is routinely but not satisfying. Although offering a decent remuneration, the job doesn’t bring an exciting challenge and a good reason to get up in the morning.
Other clients have reached a plateau; while acknowledging that they like their job, they are not learning anything new and are tired of performing the same tasks day in and day out. They are looking for ways to enhance their careers with a promotion or a new project. One of my clients expressed the sentiment as follows: “I see my life passing before my eyes without me taking charge, while I am doing what I should do.”
Typically, for some of the millennials, there is a disconnect with the ideal vision they have for themselves and their life’s purpose.
Have their jobs become habitual?
Many authors and Ted talkers have extensively touched on the concept of “habits”, which are automatic behaviors that are deeply rooted in our unconscious mind. Some researchers find that more than 40 % of our activities are habits. The pragmatic way of getting rid of a bad habit is by replacing it with a constructive and positive one. The technique is based on the belief that we can reprogram ourselves by repeating to exhaustion the same activity until it overrides the other.
A job should be much more than keeping ourselves occupied during most of our daylight hours, obtaining a decent paycheck or acquiring status. Our work is supposed to produce fulfillment, self-worth, happiness, and alignment with our personal stance on life.
In my experience, when individuals realize that they are “stuck” in a habit-forming job, they face three alternatives: to remain at their current position despite the pitfalls; to focus on resetting and recreating their occupation or deciding for a complete change towards something new.
Opting for any of these routes is a very personal decision and in no way a guarantee of success; nevertheless, it is worth exploring some approaches that could yield an optimistic and constructive outcome:
Continuing in the present job requires that we fully accept reality as it is and conscientiously state the motives that tie us to it. Analyze your attitude towards the aspects you appreciate and those you dislike, including co-workers. Define what small changes you can make to start modifying your attitude towards what you consider disagreeable. With time and perseverance, baby steps can lead to significant change.
If the choice is to reset and rework your actual job and passion for it, think about what seduced you when you got hired and what is different now. Who has changed- you or the job? How adaptable are you to embrace the new? How can you innovate and improve certain facets of your job? What is it that you are not seeing that could represent an opportunity for renewal? Set a concrete action plan with KPIs and don’t forget to recharge your batteries by allocating time for yourself and the activities you enjoy.
The decision to look for a new job or a career change or to effectuate a reinvention is not an easy one, even for those who have everything buttoned up: It requires courage, adaptability, resilience and a sense of comfort with uncertainty.
Before taking the first steps towards change, it is important to be dead honest:
What do I want to change? What expectations do I have about the change? What am I willing to give up? What is the cost of not changing?
Once you have defined a realistic plan to achieve your goals, use your imagination to visualize the outcome and believe in it.
In most cases, changes or transitions put to test your deepest values and beliefs. In turn, they provide unparalleled opportunities for rediscovering yourself, and it is usually a time of great creativity, innovation, and renewal.