I’ve recently become immersed in executive search work through my new role as Marketing VP for Synergy Partners USA – a specialized executive search firm based in Wilton, CT. I’m loving the new work — it helps me be of service both to individuals who want to enhance their careers, and organizations who want top marketing talent to help them build and grow. I’m also connecting with terrific HR and senior management folks committed to diversity and providing career development programs for their female talent as well, which I love to provide through my firm Ellia Communications. It’s cool!
As a career coach and in exec search work, I’ve spoken with scores of professionals who’ve shared some version of, “I’m really ready for a change, but I’m not sure exactly where to go from here.”
If I’ve heard this message once, I’ve heard it 1000 times now. So many people spend years crafting careers that appear successful on the outside, only to find that at some point, usually in midlife, the career comes up short. It’s missing some vital component (or several) that turns the work into something less than fulfilling, lacking in purpose, unstable, inauthentic, unsustainable, or a combination of all of the above.
Why are so many folks dissatisfied with their work and long for change?
Here’s what I’ve found to be the top six reasons people are dissatisfied with their work and want out:
1. They find it impossible to balance work and outside life
2. The money they earn isn’t enough to sustain them or their families
3. The skills and talents required for their work aren’t are a good fit
4. They feel chronically undervalued or mistreated
5. They experience little positive meaning or purpose in their work
6. It’s simply too hard to keep going with it
In short, they’re saying: “I don’t know what I want, but I know it’s not this.”
If the above describes your experience, read on for some tips to help you create the change you want — away from feeling trapped, toward feeling more confident, courageous and committed to making positive career change today.
1) Claim More Balance
Balance is not going to just fall in your lap. You have to claim it, and commit to getting it. How? First, determine the three most important priorities you are committed to achieving in your personal and professional life. What are the three things that are vital to you to bring about — that matter more than anything else? Formulate these in terms of “to be” statements such as “to be a great parent” or “to be a successful entrepreneur” or “to be a helper of others.” Then commit yourself to these. Stop over-functioning (doing more than is necessary, more than is healthy, and more than is appropriate) in your life, your family, and work, and let go of doing too much and being perfect in the areas that don’t matter as much to you.
2) Power Up with Money
To get out of financial distress, you have to become intimately connected with your money. Create a solid budget with strong financial goals, and stick to it. Understand what you need to survive and thrive. Examine your spending – are you buying things in order to soothe your soul? If so, stop over-spending. Look at your beliefs around money that you learned as a child from living with your family. Are your beliefs about money positive or negative, expansive or constricting? Do you believe you deserve wealth and abundance, or are you ashamed of the money you have or don’t have? Overall, the key to overcoming chronic financial problems is to heal your relationship with money through positive and healthy beliefs, actions, and choices. Develop an empowered money relationship, and you’ll no longer act in ways that create financial distress or drain you of your financial power.
3) Change Your Skills Focus
Do you know exactly which talents and skills are easy and natural for you to use, that give your work a sense of purpose? Do you know what work would represent a perfect fit? Find a way (either in your existing job or in a new field or job) to tap your true and natural talents more frequently and deeply. Take my free Career Path Assessment and figure out what you want to do more of, less of, and never again.
4) Respect Yourself
If you’re chronically undervalued or mistreated at work and want people to change their treatment of you, start with SELF-respect. How? Through courageous action that builds your own self-esteem – action that you know you should be taking, but haven’t found the nerve to take. Don’t wait to become more authentic and real in your work. Speak up about who you are and what’s important to you. Make yourself right, not wrong. If you know something needs to be communicated, figure out a way to do it as soon as possible. Find an advocate, sponsor or mentor at work to help you speak up in the right way so that you will be heard and respected for your viewpoint. Start enforcing your boundaries so that you know exactly what you will tolerate and accept from others, and what you won’t.
5) Honor What Gives Your Life Meaning
It’s a highly-destructive and misguided myth in our culture that we can’t make good money doing what we love. We can, but it takes grit, determination, and courage and flexibility to pursue a path that you love and to make it work for you financially.
Determine what endeavors and activities bring you joy and meaning, and bring these forward. The key is to 1) understand the essence of what you want, and then 2) find the right form of it. To find out if the new path you’re fantasizing about is right for you, research, research, research– interview people in the field, read all about it, get training and education, find a mentor, and determine a way to “try it on’ before you leap. You might discover that earning money following your passion isn’t — in the end — the right thing for you, but you love to do it on a part-time or hobby basis. If that’s the case, step up and volunteer or join a community that lets you honor your heart-aligned passions.
6) If It’s Too Much Struggle, Change
Whether you’re in your own business and it’s simply not working, or the job you’re in feels crushingly difficult, it’s time to make change. Let’s face it, most of us wait until there’s a full-blown crisis (read about the 12 “hidden” crises working women face) before we do something different. I’ve personally lived through all 12 of the crises I write about, so I understand. But I’m asking you NOT to make the same mistakes I did. Get outside your own head, and get help to figure out what you really want, and how to get it.
So, what’s your top reason for wanting out of your line of work? And are you ready to do something about it?