For 15 years I had the same News Years Resolution. To find my way to career happiness.
And for 15 years, I never found my way. I failed at my resolution.
There was always a reason, an excuse, a justification that I would tell myself that would make it okay to let those dreams slip away.
Looking back now, I know what the problem really was.
I had no clue what that my dream career looked like. All I knew was that it wasn’t recruitment. It was overwhelming to make such a broad and generalized resolution so it was easy to give up quickly.
That is the problem with resolutions, they are generally broad life changing statements that seem very easy and attainable at the time. But give us a month and 80% of us have quit. Usually because we are nowhere near that “perfect life” we had envisioned for ourselves and we are struggling because it all seems like TOO MUCH to get there.
So we give up. And we hop back on the hamster wheel until the next year when we make those broad generalized resolutions again.
For me, I had tried everything. I chose a word for my year, I set SMART goals, I created project plans. But nothing seemed to work.
Then one year something clicked. I made a resolution to start making bread for our family. That was it. It was simple, clear and specific. More importantly, it was ONE thing and one thing ONLY. And I was successful.
So when the next year rolled around I wanted to recreate that magic for my career change goal. I focused on figuring out what was the ONE thing I could focus on. I dusted off my Job Search Roadmap to give me some guidance and it hit me. I couldn’t find a new career when I didn’t even know what that new career looked like. So my resolution?
To figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up.
That was it. My goal was to spend a year figuring out what career happiness looked like for me and to see if there was a job that existed that would lead me there.
So that is what I did. I went through 5 steps that led me to where I am today. Living my purpose, waking up excited each and every day and happy with my career.
I want that for you too.
The 5 steps are easy, they took me on a path that anyone can take. They opened up my world to me, got me out of my head and got me moving forward.
1. The Power of Assessments
I redid many of my favourite assessments plus some new ones. I wanted to live my purpose and I had a sense of what that purpose was but wasn’t completely clear about it. The assessments helped give me clarity. Plus, I wanted to know more about how to live my purpose in a way that left me feeling satisfied, played up my strengths and kept me motivated to survive any career change lows.
I spent some time looking in the looking glass by doing a number of self-discovery exercises. These helped me determine what was important to me in terms of what I wanted and what I didn’t want in my new career.
3. Create a Focus
I had gathered a lot of information and now I needed to do something with it – create a targeted list of careers for me to go after. I researched. I talked to people. A LOT of people, conducting informational interviews so that I had the information I needed to make an informed decision.
4. Goal Setting
Once I had an idea of the career I wanted, I then felt comfortable getting started. I set myself up for success by setting goals in a way I knew that would work for me. Namely, flexible and gentle mini goals that focused on what I wanted. Not elaborate project plans or SMART goals that left me exhausted before I even started!
5. My Roadmap
I followed my Job Search Roadmap and prepared myself for the obstacles that I knew were to come. And come they did! Obstacles like fear, money, motivation and support. But I didn’t let them get in my way, because I had a plan to overcome them.
A funny thing happened by creating one small but tangible goal. I ended up finding career happiness that year. That elusive resolution finally became my reality.
I know my success was because I set a simple, clear and specific goal. I went through these 5 steps and by September of that year my career coaching business was born.
My 2019 Resolution.
This year I have another simple, clear and specific goal. To help YOU discover what you want to do when you grow up so that you too can find your way to career happiness.
This is a free challenge for people who know that they want a change but who don’t have complete clarity on what that change looks like.
It is for people who want a completely different career or a simple career pivot. It is for people who want to check to see if they are in the right career. And it is for people who are in the right career but who want to change something about it – like if they should be going after that promotion, change industries or fight for more work/life balance.
The challenge is 5 days long and will cover each of the 5 steps above with a daily training video sent to your email, worksheets to guide you and a Facebook group to surround you with others on the same path.
2019 is YOUR year. Your year to make your New Year’s Resolutions happen. Your year to Find Your Way to Career Happiness.
I can’t wait to get started! Click here to get your free spot!
We have all been in a job we hate, where Sunday dread starts nice and early. Monday it is almost impossible to wake up and our stress levels increase as we struggle towards our desk.
You feel stuck, your happiness nosedives. You spend way too much time googling looking for an answer:
I don’t like my job but I can’t quit
I don’t like my job what should I do
How to be happy in a job you don’t like
I don’t like my job but I need the money
How to stop being annoyed at work
What would you say if I told you about 5 easy ways to be happier in your job while you search for your dream job?
Me 10 years ago…
10 years ago, I was working at an IT recruitment agency. I was there for almost 4 years and honestly I knew from my first week that it wasn’t the right fit for me. It wasn’t the agency by any means, the training I got there gave a strong foundation from which I have built my career on, it was just the nature of the job. What helped me get through was great friends and a great team. But as happens in that world turnover is high and in the fall of 2008 my closest work friend moved to England and my sales partner got a new job.
It devastated me.
But I didn’t think I could leave. It was just around the time of the stock market bottoming out and I was afraid to leave and become the last person in and first person out in another company.
So I felt that I had to stay. And I was miserable. And instead of my usual find the silver lining type of personality I wallowed in my misery. I ate my emotions, I wasted time and had the worst performance of my career. In March 2009 I was laid off (ironic huh?) and honestly it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I have this clear memory of going for a walk after my last day of work with my husband and for the first time in a long time being gleeful and truly excited about my future.
Now, 10 years wiser I realize that I was very lucky to be laid off because the mindset I was in would have kept me chained to that job. I don’t think anyone would have hired me as I was in such a negative space.
And it didn’t have to be that way. I look back and wish that I could speak to that Sara and help her love the job she hated so much. Not as a way to keep her there but as a way to help her move forward.
Are you Happy?
I know now that I wasn't alone – at least 50% of employees are unhappy with their job with 20% matching my disengagement that I experienced. That is 2 million Canadians and 30 million Americans.
That is staggering.
The scary thing too is that in North America so much of our self-worth is tied to our career. So as your happiness declines so does your feeling of worth. Selling yourself is already hard enough as it is, never mind when you don’t actually believe you have anything to offer.
That’s the thing. By wallowing in your misery, letting it get you down and isolating yourself from the world you are in fact holding yourself back from moving forward to a job you do love.
Is the goal to stay in this job I HATE?
I don’t want you to think that I’m trying to force you to stay in a job you hate. As a career coach providing career advice, I would not be doing my job right if I was!
In fact my goal is for you to leave your job as soon as possible (I even have a free video course to help). But I know that running away from something doesn’t always lead to decisions that are right for you and your future. Running away muddles your motivations. So while you may be leaving the job you hate, it is very common you are going into a job you won't last at, meaning you'll be back looking for a job within a year.
It is better to get to a place within your current job where you don’t feel so rushed to leave. You can be careful and picky about your next career move ensuring that it is one that will bring you that career happiness.
I also know from experience that a lot of people can get so negative or jaded or so down on themselves that they just never get another offer or even interview. If you are playing the blame game, that comes across to potential employers. If you think you aren’t worthwhile, that comes across too. And those are attitudes that a Hiring Manager NEVER wants to hire!
So how do you do this?
1. Take Back Control
Stop looking to others to make you happy in your job. They may be struggling just like you.
Grab a piece of paper, time for a list. What do you hate most about your job. Come up with your top 3. Let’s break it down from there – what can YOU do about it.
Say the administrative aspect of the job is frustrating and annoying and there just never seems to be time to get it done, but you are always so stressed about it because it is hanging over your head!
Why yes, I’m speaking from personal experience!
You could schedule a meeting with yourself, blocking off the time and NOT rescheduling it, honouring it instead. So when the stressful voice starts talking you can tell yourself – well I have a time already scheduled so I know it will get done. When it comes time to do it, put in your headphones and put on some good music. Or pour yourself a good cup of coffee or tea. Make it an enjoyable chunk of time.
For your top 3, are there any ways in which you can control the outcome or the feelings surrounding them. You not only control your destiny, but you control your happiness.
2. Change it up
This is a “job hack”, can you make your job resemble a job you want? Write another list of 10 things you want in your ideal career (this can come from your Interests, Motivations and Skills).
Is there anything on that list that can be incorporated into your current job, especially if they may help with one of the 3 things you hate?
For me, one of the things I hated most about my agency recruitment job was the nature of the industry. It tends to be very dog eat dog. I like a team oriented and collaborative environment. And shockingly I was able to create one. I sought out Client Managers (those working with clients) to partner up on searches creating a team for those transactions. That led to the partners creating small teams around that model. My best year (happiness and performance wise) was when I was paired up with my sales partner and a team of recruiters. It also helped that I was always very open and communicative about my desire to work as a part of a team which the partners were supportive of.
That is key though. Communication. Once you identify a few things that you can do in your job now to make it work for you, you probably need to talk to your manager! Ask them for more responsibility or exposure to a certain area of the business. You need to advocate for yourself.
3. Get Friendly
Part of my issue during those “darkest days” was that I was isolating myself. I would hide in my cubicle, I worked 7:30-4 which meant I was in the office for 1-1.5 hours by myself and then I would go out for lunch by myself. I would avoid talking to the friends that I did have left. Or when we did talk it descend into a bitchfest.
Not constructive. Not healthy.
Reach out to your colleagues on a personal and professional level. Ask them about themselves. Ask about their goals. Think on it, what could you do to help them succeed? Act on it, it will make you feel better, worthwhile and needed.
It is okay to vent, you need to get those negative emotions out. It is okay to let them vent, you need to be supportive to build a good relationship.
BUT, don’t let it slip into complaining for the sake of complaining. If you put all of your energy into hating your job, how will you have the energy to try and love it! If you see that happening, redirect the conversation. The point of these relationships is to provide you support on this journey to love this job you hate!
4. Be Thankful
Time for another list. A list about what you love, or at least like, about your job, your team/boss, and your company. If you are in a bad place, it could be just a list of 3 things. Then every day make a point to add to the list.
Ruminate on it. Every time the going gets tough take that list out to remind yourself. Read the list slowly, send out a “Thank You” as you read each item.
Gratitude is transformative. It leads to more positive emotions, less stress and the big one – more happiness with our jobs. Let it start transforming you.
If all else fails, get up, dress up and show up. And never give up. You will have hard days where this all seems impossible but slowly those days will either become easier to handle or not happen has often.
Am I annoying you right now? The last thing you want to hear when you are knee deep in dissatisfaction is to "smile" but I'm going to say it anyways. Why? Research shows that the act of smiling can "trick" your brain into thinking you are happy. So why not?
If you put a smile on your face and fake loving your job, eventually it will just slowly start to happen – at least enough to make the last bit of time there an enjoyable experience.
I want to help you take those steps out of this job that you hate! Starting Monday January 21st, my free 5 day video challenge on how to Find Your Way to Career Happiness starts. I can't wait to help you find a job you actually love.
Do you feel stuck in an unhappy job or are looking to rejoin the workforce after some time off but feel unsure of what career is the right one? Read on for a proven three step plan on finding your way. I'll also link to a FREE video course that will help you find your own way to career happiness.
I can tell you from personal experience that it is easy to become complacent, whether in a career that you are decent or good at, that pays the bills or outside of the workforce on the hamster wheel that can be life. I also understand, no matter if you are working or not, that at the end of the day you may feel a little empty, and that as the years go by you begin to feel a lot lost - lost from those idealistic days of school when the world was your oyster. Well now is the time to break out of the comfort zone and find that dream career of yours.
Now, what if you don't know what career is the right one for you? It is very common to feel so lost that you don't know what your next move should be. Well here is a tried, tested and true way (see classycareergirl.com and Career Leader Assessment) to figure all that out using me and my story as an example.
As a child what were you interested in? Your core interests (not hobbies!) don't usually change too much as you get older. Which means that this is the key to find a fulfilling career. Maybe you used to love taking things apart to see how they worked, or anything to do with numbers. Maybe you were constantly making up stories or taking care of animals.
For me, I always loved helping and coaching people. In class I was always the one who was paired with a struggling child so that I could help them improve their grades. I also loved helping people figure out their lives and was the go-to person for family and friends to help them find their way.
When I was reflecting on my interests this, I looked at where I found the most joy and fulfillment in my job as a Recruiter and I noticed that the times I spent providing advice on careers (job search, resumes, interviews) was when I was happiest. And it makes sense - it is when I'm really helping them beyond just the transaction of if they fit this job and it is giving them the knowledge and tools to figure out their careers.
What motivates you? Your motivations can fluctuate as you mature and as your life changes. So think about what is most important right now. Is it job recognition, location, money, a prestigious job title/company? These change as your life changes - a family usually is one of the biggest impacts on motivations!
I really only have one motivation right now - job flexibility. I have two kids (Nolan, 6 and Abby, 4) who are in school and a husband with a career that requires him to commute. So the flexibility to work from home is paramount to me. The great thing is I can help people during times that make the most sense for them - like in the evenings, while still being there to get my kids off of the school bus.
What are you good at? You can ask your friends, your boss, colleagues. You can also look at any previous performance reviews, or see if there are any patterns in what people are complimenting you on. Skills are things that don't change (most soft skills) and things that you can build upon and learn (hard skills).
Looking at the skills I've developed throughout my life and career I have seen some patterns. As a recruiter, I don't even know how many resumes and LinkedIn profiles I've screened, but can estimate that it is in the tens of thousands. I interview people every day - over the phone and in person asking all the different types of interview questions there are. I am a good listener who is able to quickly get to know a person since I am highly empathetic. And not to toot my own horn, I am able to translate a person in my writing so that they come alive on paper.
So combining my interests, motivations and skills led me to take this leap - freelance career coaching. I couldn't be happier with this decision.
What led me to finally breaking out of my own complacent bubble was that this past spring my grandfather passed away and while I was mourning him I realized one of the things he taught me was to never to late to embark on a new adventure. He did all these amazing things in his life - including white water rafting and paragliding in his 80's - to life it to the fullest. I wasn't. I was going with the flow in a job that suited my skills and my motivation of flexible work but I wasn't paying any attention to my interests. But using the above three step plan, it was obvious to me what I needed to do. And yes it was scary to put myself out there with the risk of failure but I knew I would regret it if I didn't.
So whether you are new into your career, a stay at home mom, or someone with only 5-10 years of working years left, it is never too late to find your way to a fulfilling job!
If you need help finding your way to a fulfilling career, then I have the challenge for you!
The Find Your Way to Career Happiness Challenge - a free 5 day ecourse full of videos, a facebook group and lots of support on helping your on your way.
Sara Curto helps people find a career they love by teaching them a new way to job search.
Save Your job search masterclass
Click HERE to watch