Speaking and working with people every day who are in careers or jobs they dislike intensely, I’ve asked myself, “How did we get here? How has it happened that so many thousands of people have become despondent, angry and disgruntled about what they do for a living?”
Clearly, there are many factors at play here, including the rise of technology – that makes setting boundaries around our professional lives virtually impossible. Further, in the past 30 years, we’ve become slaves to the almighty dollar, addicted to acquiring things we can’t afford, which keeps us working long and hard just to break even. Additionally, many people jumped into certain jobs or fields early in their careers, only to discover 10 or 20 years later that they can’t find a way out.
But I believe there are even deeper reasons for this epidemic of people hating what they do each day for their living. These reasons touch on underlying emotional, spiritual and behavioral conditions, and reveal a deep disconnection to what it means to live joyfully, authentically, and meaningfully.
I know some folks will debunk this post, claiming they have absolutely no choice in the matter, and that they’re stuck doing this work. But I don’t see life that way. I believe we always have new choices, new paths, new solutions available to us, if we can simply commit to creating a better life.
Based on the feedback I’ve received from hundreds of professionals here and abroad, I’ve observed the following eight core reasons why people hate their careers. As I share these, know this – I’m not sitting in judgment of any of these; in fact, I’ve lived through each and every one of these conditions.
1) You don’t know yourself
The vast majority of people I see in the workplace just don’t know themselves at all. When asked, “What’s your top priority in life and in your career? What would you give up anything for?” or “When you’re 90 looking back, what do you want to have done, been, and left behind? “ I get blank stares and mouths hanging open. People don’t know themselves well or deeply anymore. Why? Perhaps because we don’t make time in our lives to get to know ourselves – we’re just too over-the-top busy. Or perhaps the process of knowing oneself deeply is intimidating and scary. Whatever the reason – if you don’t know who you are, at your core, and what you stand for and care about, how can you lead a life that aligns with your needs, values, and interests? (My free Career Path Self-Assessment will help you know yourself better, if you want to.)
2) You know yourself, but you make yourself wrong
In this situation, you know yourself and what you want, but you simply make yourself wrong. You tell yourself, “Yeah, I want to change, but I’m wrong to feel that way.” Or “I’m lucky to have a job, so I shouldn’t rock the boat” or “I have so much – I should just feel blessed and not complain.” So many people (women in particular) doubt the validity of their feelings or repress their deepest longings because they think they’re wrong to have them. Until you can make yourself “right,” you can’t find peace or joy.
3) You’ve lost the courage to act
For many who know what they want, they’ve lost the courage to take hard action. We’ve been seduced by some erroneous concept that life should be easy. Where did we get that idea? Making life change isn’t easy, but it’s so worth it, especially if you hate where you are today. It takes courage, grit, and commitment to bring about lasting change, and you can do it, but only if you decide to connect to your own internal power, courage and fortitude.
Why do you stay in a career that makes you miserable? Can you make a different choice?