What to do When Your Career Isn't Enough
In America, our careers define us.
Whether we’re making small talk at a party or on a first date, one of the first questions asked is ‘so, what do you do?’.
What we do is part of our identity, so it’s no surprise that we look to our career to provide us with purpose and fulfillment in addition to income.
It starts early - we spend our youth thinking about what we want to be when we grow up.
We go to college, get a degree, then enter the workforce ready to take on the world.
Some people are lucky enough to pick careers they love until the day they retire.
But, for many of us, we’re not so lucky.
IS YOUR CAREER ENOUGH?
If your job isn’t providing you with what you need to feel challenged and fulfilled, you likely already know the answer to the question ‘Is your career enough?’.
But, maybe it’s not that simple.
So many of us are conditioned to see our jobs as drudgery - something you do to pay the bills while you live for the weekend.
You may not even realize you need that sense of fulfillment and purpose.
You may not think about what it would feel like to know you’re providing value and your ideas and contributions are appreciated.
You deserve to have more…
You deserve to feel your time and energy is appreciated and valued. To be fully content with your life, you need to feel a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
Your life needs to have meaning, so you know you’re spending your time on something that matters to both you and the world.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CAREER IS NOT ENOUGH
You’re likely thinking I’m going to tell you to quit your job and follow your dreams, right?
While that’s one option, it’s not the only option.
Sometimes your path to fulfillment and purpose won’t be through your career.
Your job will serve to pay the bills and for your lifestyle, but your choices outside of the corporate walls will be where you find your buzz.
But, then again, maybe you do have the flexibility and guts to jump ship and change the course of your career.
Let’s explore both options...
OPTION 1: FIND A NEW CAREER
The obvious first choice if your career isn’t doing it for you is to find a new one.
Maybe the industry is one you’re passionate about, but the particular company where you work is the issue.
If that’s the case, you are lucky. You probably have the easiest situation to “fix.”
You simply have to look elsewhere (and I get it may not be ‘simple’!).
Or, to take it a step further, maybe the industry and career you’re in are no longer serving you.
In that case, it may be time for a shift.
Depending on the degree of the change in the industry and career, this may be a significant move!
But, regardless of whether you’re making a slight change or a complete overhaul, removing yourself from the current situation may be all you need to jumpstart your passion and fulfillment.
It’s not uncommon for people in their 40s to embark upon establishing an Encore Career.
OPTION 2: FIND OTHER PASSIONS OUTSIDE YOUR JOB
For some folks, though, leaving their current job may not be an option - either ever or in the near future.
The pay and benefits may be too great to walk away from, or perhaps, your dream job would require you to relocate.
Your desire to embark upon an encore career may be in your future but needs a significant investment of time to get that going (i.e. you have to go back to school).
Sometimes, making the necessary changes to find fulfillment in your career isn’t something you can do overnight (or maybe at all).
The lack of immediate options can, understandably, make you feel defeated: “Why bother trying, there’s just nothing I can do to change things.”
That could mean taking on a new hobby, starting a passion project, volunteering, traveling, etc.
Our souls don’t care where the passion and fulfillment come from; it just cares that you find it somewhere.
The benefit to finding it outside of your job is that it makes the unfulfilling job a lot more bearable. You are no longer just punching the clock and living for the weekends where you crash, hide, and dread Monday morning.
You have something in your life that gives it meaning and that little extra spark of purpose.
TAKING THE FIRST STEP
Once you’ve recognized that you are in a career that isn’t doing it for you, you might be wondering where to start.
The first step is to figure out which camp you’re in - do you need to switch to a new company in the same field, look towards an encore career, or simply find fulfillment outside of your job.
You likely know which fork in the road you need to take, so answering that question is probably the easy part. It’s what comes after that might be the scary part.
If you’re looking to switch jobs in the same industry, it’s time to dust off your resume, update your LinkedIn profile, and start the hunt. Don’t be afraid to apply for jobs for which you feel you might not be 100% qualified! If it sounds interesting and you meet enough of the requirements, throw your hat in and see what happens.
If you’re looking to switch to an encore career, then it’s likely a steeper path to climb. The first step is to get clear on what it is that you want to do.
Then, look into what you need to make that happen. If you need to go back to school, then look into local programs and don’t forget to check online options for education! You’ll need to make a plan for the transition, but don’t get too overwhelmed with that at first. Just identify what it is you want to do, then the first thing you need to do to start down that path.
If you’re looking to find more fulfillment outside the corporate walls (which I recommend for everyone!), then you have to get to know yourself a little better.
You may already know things you love that you’ve put on the backburner over the years. Perhaps you took photography classes in college and loved it, but you haven’t picked up your camera in years; or maybe, you’ve always had a wish to learn to play the guitar. If you remember passions you’ve had in the past, revisit them!
You may crave something deeper than a hobby. If that’s you, consider what’s behind that desire. Is it helping or serving others? How about making a difference in your community?
Use this to identify your path so you can get started on finding more fulfillment.
Our careers are not our end all be all. We are so much more than our jobs.
If your career is no longer serving you, it’s time to shake things up. It doesn’t mean you have to leave your job, but if that’s the right course, even if scary, it’s one you need to explore.
Otherwise, it’s time to take the time to figure out what you can do outside of your 9-to-5 to find the ‘more’ that you’re craving.
Need someone to help you on this journey? I specialize in helping high-achieving women find purpose outside the corporate walls. Let’s work together to set your life on an entirely new path.
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