I am by no means a career counselor, but on occasion, career-related concerns emerge in my work with clients. The expressed issue typically involves a lack of personal fulfillment when it comes to that person’s vocation of “choice.”
I quote “choice” because sometimes our hand is forced when selecting a job due to various factors beyond our control.
Someone who was never proficient within standard educational settings may have comparatively limited opportunities in comparison to someone who was an exemplary student, for instance.
Anyway, these aforementioned clients who are disenchanted might feel like their work has no intrinsic value. Their job might simply be a means to an end, a way to generate enough income to pay the bills.
They might feel often overlooked. Expendable. Or maybe their job is just utterly boring and not providing enough variety and challenge.
Maybe there’s no clear path for advancement. Whatever the source of their disappointment, they are fundamentally unhappy within their current positions.
Of course, this kind of set up is less than ideal when considering the notion of a “Dream Occupation.” Ideally, we find ourselves in a position that plays to our strengths so that work might, in a way, feel like play.
The tasks might come easier to us based on our naturally occurring skill set or due to skills that we’ve acquired over the course of our lives. We might have enough built-in curiosity and motivation to see the various tasks of our job to completion or even completed beyond expectations.
At our Dream Job, we feel appreciated and compensated fairly. We are proud of our production and demonstrate a model work ethic. Unfortunately, this ideal scenario is not a reality for some people.
The Pew Research Center found that thirty percent of those employed viewed their position as “just a job to get them by.” It is these individuals that I encourage in my practice to take a holistic view of their lives.
We might look at the various aspects of what makes them who they are, for instance, such as personal ties (significant others, family, and friends), recreational pursuits/hobbies, and spirituality (though this last dimension is not applicable for all, to be sure).
If this person is feeling fundamentally imbalanced because they’re angry or unfulfilled by their job, I urge them to try to “right the ship” by shifting their focus away from what contributes to that pernicious negative outlook and moving it towards other facets of life that could alleviate these feelings.
Let’s consider personal ties, for instance. Whereas you might feel underappreciated or underutilized at your job, at home you might feel like a dynamite mother. Or perhaps you’re an incredibly reliable friend, a doting, supportive husband, or a super-connected partner.
Even if you’re not any of this, it might benefit you greatly to consider how you might make some adjustments in your life and be very intentional in moving towards significant individuals in your life.
Another dimension of personal identity for the job-weary to consider tweaking could be how you spend your leisure time.
Do you volunteer for charitable causes? Do you go cycling? Hiking? Maybe you tend to your garden. Or play video games. Or check out live music. Read a book. Take a class.
Whatever your tastes, any recreational pursuit has the added bonus of promoting social connections, though I understand that’s not a top priority for the introverts among us.
The bottom line is that it’s important to engage in self-care with the distinct aim of offsetting those aspects of our lives that seem to bring us down.
Bear in mind that every situation is different and sometimes, for whatever reason, it’s just not feasible or sustainable to counter-balance work-related stress and disappointment by accentuating some other facet of your life.
Sometimes it makes more sense to change jobs or perhaps find a different position within the same job. Maybe you’re not in the right environment for your job OR for your overall well-being. Work-life balance is important!
Do you miss the hustle and bustle of the city or is the quiet country the life for you? Do you need access to the mountains? Trails? Waterways? The beach?
A change of venue may be just the infusion you need to revitalize and re-invent yourself, or at least better tolerate an imperfect occupational fit.
I hope for anyone that they can feel the satisfaction of a well-suited job, allowing for a sense of competency, productivity, stimulation, challenge, creativity, and purpose.
For those who feel more ill-suited in their jobs, however, I hope that you can move some things around in your life to achieve a better sense of work-life balance and contentment.
Remember, though – happiness is not a finite goal. It’s just as important that we work towards implementing much-needed changes as it is to take stock, have some perspective, and simply count our blessings.