The Pursuit of Career Happiness

OK, I have a confession to make… are you ready? Here I go… Most days I wake up excited about going to work. There I said it! This may sound a little cliché and in my experience not everyone loves their work, many simply tolerate it, but I genuinely do enjoy what I do.

Now, let’s get real. Not every day is bliss. There are days when my frustration levels spike to dizzying heights but I’m Ok with that as I know my frustration is born out of something not being good enough. I still admire the people I work with; my teams’ accomplishments blow me away – they are awesome. I’m still passionate about my job and I’m passionate about how well I do my job.

I have the career I want…for now.

Careers can be like a roller-coaster ride. At times you’re soaring to success with unimaginable momentum, and then there are times when you feel like you’ve lost sight of your goals and are bogged down in the minutia. What then?

What do you do when you realise that you’re no longer excited about work? What do you do when you realise that you aren’t motivated, are unhappy, depressed, bored and/or misunderstood. I’ve experienced this. I’ve stayed in a role for too long, I’ve got comfy, and thought flying under the radar seemed easier and that my anonymity gave me security. I’ve played it safe and lost sight of my ideal career and fallen into a career stalemate. It took me time’, but eventually I realised I no longer had the career I wanted.

I would love to say that I immediately jumped into action, quit my job and secured the role of my dreams but I didn’t. It doesn’t work like that. The plan for your best career path doesn’t magically appear in your brain with a flash of insight. It needs thought and it takes work. Here are my top five points to consider if you think you need a change.

1. Step back – Before you start plotting your transition from Accountant to Chef extraordinaire, take time to figure out what career you really want. Think carefully about what you like to do and what kind of tasks you instinctively gravitate towards. Define what your natural tendencies are and do a self-assessment of your values to help you align with the right organisation/industry.

2. Consider external help. A career coach can be invaluable in helping you explore and gain a clear idea of what your ideal career looks like. Your capabilities can go beyond your realisation and a coach can be integral in uncovering that which you may not even know you possess. Learning how to pinpoint entombed strengths and identify untapped skills can be essential in discovering a new career.

3. Have a plan and a strategy – Be realistic. Consider the time you’ll be without work as you make the transition from one role to another, 1 week? 1 month? 6 months? Plan for the possibility of no salary for a period of time. Research potential careers carefully and ask yourself if you have what it takes? Are you prepared to do further study or up-skill if required?

4. Prepare – Get your resume and LinkedIn profile working for you. Your resume is a really important tool, it doesn’t matter how amazing you are if your resume doesn’t represent you well. Your LinkedIn profile is equally important as it is the first impression people will receive. You need to put yourself out there and utilise your networks, so your profile needs to be professional, engaging and credible. Remember first impressions last online too.

5. Be ready to resign – Turning in your resignation isn’t always an easy task, yet it’s a task that needs to be done gracefully – regardless of the situation. Make sure you do this in person, providing a written resignation and appropriate notice. Be prepared and make sure you know your obligations as it is your responsibility to know the conditions of your employment or if you have any leave up your sleeve.

So how did I get from career stalemate to a career I love? I hired a coach, one who believed that “getting lost can be key the key to finding yourself.” I believe this applies to our careers as well. If we trust in the process of exploration, challenge ourselves to dig deep, be honest and truly define what our ideal career looks like, then that career can become a reality.

The most important question is, are you prepared to do what it takes to reclaim your career happiness?