I remember my first day at my first job out of school, an IT recruiter in a recruitment agency in downtown Toronto. I came home that evening and said to my aunt (I was living with her at the time) that it was a good first day but that I don’t know how I’ll be able to last out the year. That was my plan when I took the job, work for 1 year before trying to get a corporate HR job.
Well I lasted that 1 year. In fact I was there for 4 years and I was laid off. I didn’t leave of my own accord. And I’m still working through the why. I was so unhappy and there were times where I did a halfhearted job search but there was always one reason or another that kept me stuck in that job I hated. And yes there were the practical reasons – job stability, money, career progression but honestly I used those reasons as excuses to ignore the things that I was telling myself. That I wasn’t good enough, that I didn’t have time or that I was afraid.
And I know I’m not alone. Throughout my 15 years of experience I have heard many “practical reasons” for staying in a job you hate but upon digging there is always an underlying negative voice that is the real reason. Today I want to talk about the six most common, I’m sure if you are stuck that at least one of these will resonate with you.
1. It’s too late for me.
You have finished your degree, you have had kids, you are over 40, you are close to retirement. You feel that your ship has sailed and that since it is too late that you need to suck it up and be thankful for the job you do have.
Can I tell you something though – it is never too late to change. So what if you have been a teacher for 15 years or just completed a degree in Engineering or only have 5 years left until you are retiring. YOU STILL HAVE TIME. I have clients that are 55 years old and who are done with the jobs that they hate. They want to spend their last years in the workforce doing something they love not something that they are just tolerating. I have clients who have done complete 180s in the career because they realized they had been pursuing someone else’s dream – their parents, society’s and that it is time to start going after their own dreams.
My message to you: YOU STILL HAVE TIME.
2. I am afraid
Change is scary. The unknown is terrifying. The thought of failure is enough to have you quaking in your boots. So you stay, you may say to yourself that there is no guarantee, that the grass is always greener or the whole “devil you know”, all excuses to allow you to succumb to your fear.
Which is exactly what it wants you to do. Our brains don’t like change and fear is the voice that helps keep us in check. So we listen to it because at the end of the day we don’t want it yelling at us. We may think that it is all well and good for other people, that they are different, that they aren’t fearful.
But let me let you in on a secret. We all have fear talking to us, yelling at us to stop. I know fear has a starring role in my life most of the time, not letting it get in my way of joy in my life and career is a constant struggle.
Fear never goes away. That would be like saying we can completely eliminate happiness, sadness or anger from our lives. It just doesn’t happen. But we can change how we respond and react to fear. I know for me, I recognize when fear starts talking. And I calmly welcome it and tell it that no matter what it says that it isn’t going to get in the way of me moving forward. The key is to recognize it because fear is sneaky and it can wear many masks, so you have to be careful!
My message to you: you can’t be brave without fear
3. I am not good enough
Being in a job you hate pulls us into a negative whirlwind of thoughts. The star of the show is typically that you are not worth it, you can’t do it, that you are not good enough or deserving of a job you love.
This thought is like the heaviest of weights we add to our shoulders that we must carry throughout all aspects of our lives. Meaning that it is a dangerous thought, one that has negative impacts. It slows us down on any sort of forward progress, it drains us of all energy and gets in the way of enjoying not just your career and job but your life.
If this is you then surrounding yourself with people who value you, you build you up and who believe in you is a good first step. Finding a cheerleader to stand in your corner, to help lessen the load and to remind you of your worth is key.
My message to you: you are worth it.
4. I don’t have time
Life is busy. Commuting 2+ hours, working 10+ hours, trying to fit in our life obligations (family, friends, etc) leaves us barely enough time to sleep never mind time to figure out what we want and to go after it.
One question I have for those who don’t have time (and a question I often ask myself), is why are you so busy? Overworking and busyness is often a tactic that we use to distract ourselves from our feelings of dissatisfaction, uneasiness and unhappiness. Kind of like emotional eating or shopping or scrolling endlessly through social media – working too many hours may be a coping mechanism that you have so that you don’t have to deal with those feelings.
If that is the case, stop it. Feel those feelings, figure out the thoughts behind those feelings and stop allowing yourself to procrastinate moving towards career happiness by working long hours. Make a commitment to work 30 minutes less each day, 30 minutes that’s it! That is 2.5 hours per week that you can devote to you and your career dreams!
My message to you: carve out some time
5. I’m too stressed
This ties in with the above, when life is busy it often causes us to feel stressed out and overwhelmed so it feel easier to just ignore those feelings and to stay stuck.
I understand, the thought of adding one thing to your growing and never shrinking To Do List is just too overwhelming. It feels impossible, even if it is for something you want.
But we can’t stay stressed forever and when you hate your job that stress is only ever going to get worse. And take it from me, it begins to suffocate you. You feel like you are drowning and that there is no way to be saved.
There is though. Take a mental health day and focus only on you, not on your to do list. And don’t even think about a new job, only focus on how you can reduce your stress load. Like I spoke about on a recent Discover Your Career Q&A – write down all of your problems, brainstorm all types of solutions and then pick one thing. That is it. That momentum will be enough to get you moving.
My message to you: Do 1 thing to reduce stress and start living your life.
6. I don’t know what I want
When we are stuck in jobs we hate, with bills to pay, mouths to feed and constant messages from family, friends and society about what our careers should look like, it can be really hard to know what we want.
Think back to high school, what was the message you heard? I know for me, at my high school, there were only a few career options that were ever discussed. A trade if you didn’t do too well in school, a teacher if you liked school, a lawyer or doctor if you were smart and maybe business in some capacity. 5 career options, that’s it.
But that isn’t the world we are in, especially now with careers that didn’t exist before and the internet allowing us to create niche jobs that you couldn’t otherwise create. So the world is literally your oyster.
There are a few things you can do to figure out what your fulfilling career can look like, some simple questions to ask yourself that gives you direction. Figure out some ideas, talk to others in those roles and narrow it down.
My message to you: self discovery is the answer.
My goal is to help you stop telling these stories to yourself and instead replace them with stories that get you moving instead of staying.
So if you find yourself staying in a job you hate because you are telling yourself 1 (or more!) of these 6 things then it might be time to talk to someone.
A free Discover Your Career strategy call is 20-30 minutes long where we talk about where you are now and where you want to go and how to get there. It is an easy 1 thing to do! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule yours.
Do you feel like a chicken with its head cut off most days. Well I did too. Until I was introduced to time management and productivity books. Now I read them all the time to find new hacks to get more done in a day. Here are 4 books that really helped me out.
I don’t know about you, but there just never seems to be enough hours in a day. I just want to do ALL THE THINGS and quite frankly the idea of compromising or giving something up just doesn’t jive with my goal oriented and over achiever type of personality.
I want to cook everything from scratch, work out daily, mediate daily, spend meaningful time with my kids PLUS build a business that involves marketing on social media, writing weekly articles and newsletters, help out clients through career coaching and resume writing and more. Never mind the fact that I also have a part time job Career Transitioning, have to deal with all the admin associated with running a business and want some semblance of a social life!
I know that it is impossible to do all of that all the time, but I want to at least try my hardest to become my most efficient self so that I can tick off a ton of boxes every day. As an information gatherer and a reader, it comes as no surprise that I have probably read every Time Management and Productivity book on the market. So my time management is a hodge podge of all of these ideas that I’ve learnt but my system is one that also changes all the time depending on the week and my life at that moment.
Here are four books that really made an impact on my life, ones that I feel have allowed me to get more things done in a day.
1. The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
This is the very first book I read about productivity about 10 years ago when I was laid off from my agency recruiting job. Back then I wrote most of the ideas off as I didn’t think it really applied to me. But there were a few things I did implement and took to heart.
I loved his concept of the “New Rich” how your total take home salary isn’t how you should define your worth. In order to be a New Rich person, you need to create a life you WANT. This really resonated with me at the time as I was in the process of interviewing for a job I really wanted (Corporate Recruiter), only 5 minutes away from my house. But it was going to be a big pay cut. This book sparked a great conversation with husband in terms of what we value most. Money wasn’t at the top of the list, not even close. We also did the calculation and the hourly rate really wasn’t that different when you took into account the hours and money saved from not commuting and extra time at the office. So when the offer did come through it was an easy yes, and saying goodbye to the stress and the commute more than made up for the loss of some money.
Some specific time management tools of his I have implemented over the years are figuring how much time it really takes to complete a task and sticking to it, finding a way to eliminate meetings (or a way to join in remotely), and outsourcing/delegating the tasks you are able to.
When I am at my most productive, I’m following some of his ideas – don’t arrive at your desk without a plan or else you will just dawdle away the day in your inbox and being busy is a form of laziness (similar to a Gretchen Rubin thought that you can procrastinate with work).
In my opinion for 99% of the population the concept of a 4 hour workweek is laughable. But I would still recommend this book to all of you as it gives great insights on how to save you some time. Especially if you work somewhere traditional where they want you at your desk, this book talks about how to convince your boss to let you work from home on Fridays, now who wouldn’t want that!
2. The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People by Stephen R Covey
This was the second book on time management that I read, since it is listed on pretty much all productivity and time management must read lists! This book showed me that my career, just like my life, was completely within my control. You can’t just sit back and wait for your dream career to land in your lap – you have to BE PROACTIVE (Habit #1), and you need to remember to place what you value most above all others so you need to PUT FIRST THINGS FIRST (Habit #3). There are 4 other habits, but for me and my career these are the two that have been most useful to getting me to where I am today.
His quadrant is also such a key for time management and learning how to prioritize your daily, weekly and monthly tasks. By examining the need for this task and the deadline allows us to plan out how our schedule should look.
If you are a reader, then definitely pick this one up. If not, then googling it and reading an article or two will suffice and everyone and their mother has written about it, for good reason!
3. Get you Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight
I love the no-nonsense style of this writer, and honestly as someone who doesn’t like being confined by the corporate world, I could relate to her story of giving it all up to pursue her dreams.
Plus, her approach is right up my alley with her three steps – Strategize (plan of action to achieve a goal), Focus (break it down and schedule it) and Commit (set yourself up for success). She leans into negative thinking as a way to propel you to take action which works especially well for those who don’t have a clear direction of where they want to go or what they want to do, they just know that they want to leave or put an end to what they are doing.
Sarah wants you to be very specific with your goals in terms of time management. For example, say you are struggling to keep atop of your current workload. Take a look at the core of what YOU CAN CONTROL. Are you spending too much time on social media? Then perhaps the solution is to limit your time online. And then focus on your impulse, do you feel the twitch and call of social media? Confront that impulse head on to put a stop to it!
One of my most used time management tips came from this book and that is the concept of a “MUST DO LIST”. Sarah recommends that you have a large running master to do list and that every day you prioritize that list based on urgency and importance (similar to above!) and then move that to your MUST DO List. That is your focus for the day, nothing else!
I highly recommend this book, it is a fun read with some great tips and a little bit of inspiration for anyone wanting a career change.
4. Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
This is one of the most recent productivity books I have read. I loved it – the idea of SAVERS (Silence, Affirmation, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, and Scribing) is something I fully believe in. But it has been one of the most difficult to put into place. I have bits and pieces throughout my day. I meditate every night before I go to bed (96 days straight right now), I read every day and I exercise/move most days.
I want to do the rest, and I agree with the author that the mornings that I get up early and get all of that accomplished are the days that I am most productive as it sets a great tone for the day.
My problem (or excuse) is my kids. I have a 6.5 yo and a 5 yo who wake up at 6am and quite frankly I don’t want to get up any earlier. And even if, on the odd day, they are sleeping, when I try to sneak downstairs it ends up waking them up. Plus, first thing in the morning they just want to be near me, typically they want to snuggle in bed (there are only a few more years of that and I want to soak those cuddles up!) and then be in the same room as me so it is hard to focus.
But I believe so much in this. I believe that setting your intentions and your goals will not only increase your productivity but also increase the likelihood of you being a success. So I literally just researched a shorter version (since the book recommends about 90 minutes) and came across the 6 minute Miracle Morning by Hal. I’m going to tweak it to 8 minutes and only focus on the pieces I don’t do every day:
Silence: 2 minute gratitude meditation (in addition to my nightly meditation)
Affirmation: 2 minutes affirmations
Visulaization: 2 minutes visualization
Exercise: during the day
Reading: during the day
Scribing: 2 minute scribing – my gratitude, my daily goals and plan.
Anyone willing to join me? Tomorrow, I’ll let you know how it went!
The amazing thing about Happiness Books and these Productivity books is that they introduce to us concepts that we may never have thought about. But more importantly, they tell us the story of how to make the changes and how those changes can have a lasting impact on our lives. So if you are stuck in a job you hate and don’t know what to do, they can help you figure out what you want and how to make the time in a day to get there.
If even that is overwhelming, how about a 30 minute phone call – we can chat for free, let’s strategize where you are, where you want to go and how to get there.
Does your job search have you feeling down? Don't give up! I've got 9 tips and tricks to stay inspired during a tough job search! Scroll to the bottom for a handy infographic to refer back to!
Searching for a new job (whether you are in a job or not) is a necessary evil.
You either need a job because you aren’t working or you need one because the one you are in isn’t working. The challenge is that it is a process of constantly putting yourself out there only to be rejected multiple times which makes it tough to keep up a positive attitude.
When you are out of a job, the stress and pressure mounts with each passing day. You find reasons to blame others for you not getting a job – a natural self-defense mechanism that unfortunately doesn’t really help.
Or you start beating yourself up and your self-confidence begins to plummet. What compounds matters is if you had a surprising lay off or termination, and honestly how many aren’t hurtful or surprising!
When you are in a job that you aren’t satisfied in, you start questioning whether this is even worth it! Maybe this job you hate isn’t so bad after all and you go back into stagnation mode because after all it is easier than constantly putting yourself out there. Besides the fact that the job search takes up time you just don’t really have!
It is easy to get into these negative thought patterns and even easier to stay there. What is harder is to break them. It is crucial to your success that you snap out of it.
It may seem hard right now but TRUST ME it is worth it in the end. Don’t forget the goal – to find a fulfilling career, a job that challenges you, an organization that values you and a work/life balance that brings you more freedom to enjoy life outside of the workplace!
In order to do that, you need to focus on staying inspired throughout the job search. You need a plan in place for what that job search looks like and you need a plan in place to enjoy things too.
You need to take care of your emotional and physical wellbeing so that you have the energy and confidence to wake up every day and put yourself out there.
If you aren’t working, you also need to make sure you get out of the house and connect with people. Isolating doesn’t help, no matter how introverted you are!
I know what you are thinking, Sara the last thing I need right now is more work! I get it. Most of the “Life Hacks” I’m going to suggest are easy. Most won’t take much time at all. In fact some will save you time! And others will give you more energy to put into the search.
Here is my list of 9 tips and tricks that you can do RIGHT NOW that will keep you inspired to stay positive and to keep at the job search!
STAY INSPIRED BY BEING HEALTHY:
1. Get 7-9 hours of sleep every night to give you energy.
2. Move Your Body. Every. Single. Day. Improve your mood, reduce stress, increase your energy!
3. Eat a balanced diet. Junk food doesn’t leave you feeling your best am I right?
STAY INSPIRED BY BEING PREPARED
4. Write a Foundational Resume and Cover Letter. These are so easy to tweak and will save you hours in your job search.
5. Plan your week by booking Job Search Time in your calendar. 1-2 hours/day MAX. Don’t forget to book in Networking!
6. ENGAGE with people! Do your job search at a coffee shop, go to networking events or career fairs. Get out of the house!
STAY INSPIRED BY BEING HAPPY
7. Start a Gratitude Practice – what 3 things are you thankful for each day.
8. Find Joy. Every. Single. Day. Do something you LOVE. Bake a cake, garden, go for a hike, anything!
9. Focus on YOU. Think about all the great things you have accomplished and done and all the great things you bring table. Give yourself a high five, every day!
Feeling really at the end of your rope with the job search and want a Pep Talk? That's what I'm here for! Email me at email@example.com to set up a time to chat and we'll figure out ways to get out of this rut!
Sara Curto, Career Management Specialist. Working with you towards Career and Job Search Success.
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