Ask Yourself These Questions When Your Career Hits the Doldrums

Categories: Career Management 0

Ask Yourself These Questions When Your Career Hits the Doldrums
Proactively assess your options and priorities

Ask Yourself These Questions When Your Career Hits the Doldrums

So you’ve reached a point in your career where it’s not so fun anymore.  When you started out, you were energized and optimistic.  You had a mission and a sense of purpose.  You looked forward to going to work every day.  But over time, you’ve noticed aspects you don’t particularly like. You may even be sharing some of your dissatisfaction with friends and trusted co-workers.  Everyone has a bad day now and then, but you’ve reached a point where the bad days outnumber the good.  This is the point where you may want to consult a career coach.

In some cases, it may be necessary to make a major transition.  But in many cases, particularly where a significant transition isn’t feasible right away, I work with my clients on ways to improve their current situation. The goal is to extend the current career chapter until either it becomes satisfying enough to stay in for the long term or the client completes the preparation necessary to launch a significant career transition.

A good place to start is to do some journaling about the source of your dissatisfaction. Where is the disconnect between your current situation and the way you would like it to be?  For example:

 o   Does the problem lie in the work environment?  This could include the space you’re working in, the location of your office, or the hours you’re working.

 o   Are you having difficulty with a colleague or boss?

 o   Is it the job you’re currently performing or the tasks you’re required to do, that’s causing dissatisfaction?

 o   Does your current position make good use of your talents, and provide opportunities to grow them? 

 o   Do the position and the organization align with your values?  Presumably, they were when you took the position, but have things changed?

 o   Does the position align with your overall purpose?

Once you’ve identified the source of the dissatisfaction, you can explore - on your own or with a coach - the extent to which you can either take steps to improve the situation or if not, become more comfortable with it, either by reframing the way you think about it or changing your expectations.

In examining how much energy to spend on these options, it's critical to ask yourself what's most important to you at this stage of your life. Your priorities may not rank in the same order they did five or ten years ago.  For example, later in your career, you may want to stay in a job that provides freedom and flexibility, even though it's not as stimulating as it could be.  If it's early in your career, you may want to stay in a job that provides challenge and learning opportunities, even though the hours are demanding and the co-workers are difficult.

Addressing persistent dissatisfaction with your career or position is rarely easy.  No job is perfect, and there are always tradeoffs to be made.  But having an honest conversation with yourself about where the problem comes from, what’s within your power to change, what’s not, and what’s most important can go a long way toward improving your satisfaction and sense of control over your career.

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