You hate your job. But you don’t know what to do about it. You are so overwhelmed, stressed out and anxious. You are well on your way to getting burnt out.
Thinking about a new career used to be that light at the end of the tunnel but now it just feels like another weight being added to your shoulders, weight that you just can’t handle right now.
The danger is complete and total burn out. Of remaining stagnant and things getting worse instead of better. Of being so afraid of the journey that we don’t do anything.
You just need to get started.
But on what? When you are so overwhelmed and your head is spinning it can be extremely hard to think about that first step because you can’t help thinking about ALL the steps you may need to take to achieve your goal of a new job or career.
You are over complicating things. Let’s bring it back to basics and make it super simple for you.
Let’s figure out your first step and not even worry about the rest. And it is easier than you think.
ACCEPT THAT YOU NEED TO CHANGE
Staying where you are is not the answer to the problem. Yes there are ways to love the job you hate that will put you in a better mindset for leaving your current job but you need to 100% accept that things need to change, you need to change.
Things are not going to magically get better, in fact they will more than likely get worse the longer you stay. Leaving your job is no longer optional.
PROPEL YOURSELF FORWARD
You are feeling all the crappy feelings right now. Good. Don’t try and ignore them or rationalize them or repress them. Feel them. And use those crappy feelings to push you forward towards your goal of leaving your job behind you.
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
Grab your phone or a pen and paper. Just write. Write about all the problems, all the ways life is getting in your way of going after your career dreams.
HOW CAN I SOLVE IT?
Write down solutions, at least one for each problem. Don’t judge them, don’t try to action plan them. Just write all the ways to solve each of the problems.
TAKE THE FIRST STEP
Look at that list. Think about all the different options. Think about how they make you feel. If thinking about a particular solution makes you feel stressed, or overwhelmed or trapped then scratch them off for now. What can you do TODAY. Just one thing.
But maybe you are so lost and overwhelmed that that long list is too much for you to handle right now. So what are some of the things on that list that will give you the biggest bang for your buck? Here are some ideas:
1. Ask for Help
This is a great first step. At work you can ask your boss or a colleague to help with the workload. Or at home, you can ask for help around the house so that you can free up some time to find your new job. Set up a free call with me, maybe there are some free resources or a way that we can work together that will lighten your load.
If you are in the throes of a burn out then this could be tough. But trying to get your 7-9 hours of sleep will help get you in the mindset and give you the energy to take a career change or job search on!
3. Take Care of Yourself
This is an extension of sleep, but I wanted sleep to be its own. This is eating, relaxing and moving. Perhaps your first step is to eat 5 vegetable servings, or to take a walk or to meditate for 5 minutes. Little wins lead to big wins and taking care of yourself gives you that confidence boost while also setting you up for success.
4. Talk to People
If you have an idea of what you want to do or where you want to do it, seek out people to talk to. Ask for more information. This will give you the knowledge of whether or not it is worth investing your time into that particular path, plus it will get you excited to know you are doing something and give you the information and a networking connection that will help make your dreams a reality!
5. Create a Plan
Sunday morning, figure out how much time you can devote to a career change/job search for that upcoming week. Be realistic and easy on yourself. Any time is better than no time.
Then figure out when you are going to use that time. If it is 2.5 hours, are you going to do 30 minutes of work per day or a 2.5 hour chunk of time? Use my Dream Career Planner to help make it even easier!
6. Build a Support System
This goes hand in hand with asking for help. But this is thinking about who in your life can help you out – who can cheer you on, hold you accountable, or give you guidance? This can be one person or many people. It can be a mentor, a peer, a family member or a coach like myself. You don’t have to do this alone!
Life goes by so fast. Which means it is so easy to stand still, in a situation that we hate and have hated. The old classic quote of a journey of a thousand miles starts with just one step is one we all know but not one we live. Because we can’t stop thinking about the rest of those steps needed. But we must remember the alternative. Staying put.
Don’t let that be an option. Pick one thing. And do it. Take that first step.
And of course, if you need help or want to talk it through, never hesitate to set up a complimentary strategy call with me.
I am the type of person who wants to be great at what they want to do. I know I’m not a unicorn or special snowflake as I believe most people want to be great at what they do.
But what happens when that strive for greatness backfires? We get burnt out.
Burn out looks differently for everyone and the road to burn out is no different.
For some, it is our people pleasing getting in our way. We just can’t say no. No matter how hard we try or how badly we want to, it is just so ingrained to keep saying yes. This is especially bad for women – we are taught from such a young age that we are here to serve and that being liked is the be all and end all. Pretty much a message that we should say yes all the time. So our plate gets too full, too heavy.
For others, it is our need to overachieve, to be the best at what we do. But not only that, it is making sure other people know we are the best, our competitive nature. So we spread ourselves too thin doing great work but also spending the time to make sure those important people know just how hard we are working and how successful we are. We get so focused on success that our well-being is ignored.
And then there is those of us who don’t have those same internal struggles but who are working in a toxic environment. Either the whole company culture, our managers or our teams are just a poisonous environment. We are always walking on egg shells, adrenaline pumping, constantly in a state of “flight or fight”. We just can’t handle it anymore.
Three different paths, same destination. Burn Out.
How do I know if I’m Burnt Out?
Burn out is a state of chronic stress. It can manifest itself differently depending on the person and the situation, meaning that burn out can impact you physically or emotionally. It is a slow process, slowly building up until you just can no longer function properly anymore.
This is good news, as there are signs that can help you indicate whether or not you are on your way to a full-fledge burnout breakdown.
Physical and Emotional Symptoms of Burn Out
1. Lack of energy
Are you feeling tired or drained? Is it getting worse? Maybe it started out as just so exhausted at the end of the day and now you are depleted the whole day through? How is your sleep – is it fitful or are you experiencing some insomnia?
Are you experiencing more pain than usual – is your blood pressure higher, having heart palpitations or episodes of difficulty breathing? To get TMI on you, are you having any gastro issues – like increased constipation or episodes of diarrhea? Maybe you are getting sick ALL. THE. TIME. A new occurrence as you didn’t use to get every single cold, flu or stomach bug but now you are. For all of these, please go see your Doctor!!
3. Change in Appetite
This is different for everyone, depending on how they handle stress. Have you lost your appetite or has your appetite kicked into high gear? You either can’t even think about food or all you can think about is food!
4. Loss of Focus
Your attention span has vanished. No matter what you do you just can’t focus anymore and work begins to pile up.
5. Anxiety and Depression
This starts off mild. Maybe you feel on edge or little sad. Maybe the Sunday Blues start on Saturday and are a little bit more intense. Then it just gets worse from there. You start to experience panic when you wake up in the morning, or trapped with no way out. Sometimes depression doesn’t show up as sadness, it shows up as anger (especially in men), so if you went through a period of irritability that has grown into flat out anger at the world and quick to getting in arguments then this is a sign of burn out and depression. Again if sounds like you please seek out your Doctor!
6. Rock Bottom Self Esteem
We blame ourselves. It is our own fault we are feeling this way – if only we were better at saying no, or if only we were truly successful and live up to our own crazy aspirations or if only we can mold to our toxic’s bosses unrealistic expectations. So maybe you feel worthless, like you have no value to bring to the world.
What Burnout Can Look Like
We are really good at lying to ourselves. Plus the above 6 signs usually come on very slowly giving us the time to adapt to this “new norm”. So it can be hard to recognize those physical and emotional symptoms of burn out. But there are other signs and there are certain things we are doing in our lives that can indicate we are on our way to burning out.
1. You have put yourself on a deserted island
I’ve shared with you in the past a time when I hated my job so much that I isolated myself completely in the workplace. I avoided talking to people as much as possible. After a while, I didn’t want to see friends. I felt ashamed that I was still stuck at my job that I hated. This isolation led to detachment. Now this came real easy to me as it is a natural coping and defense mechanism of my INFJ personality type. So not only was I isolating myself but I was building walls around me. Does any of this sound familiar to you?
2. You feel like there is no point.
Are you turning into a cynic? You feel like even trying to change is worthless, what’s the point after all? You just can’t count on anything anymore. So why even bother. No one cares. The world is out to get you. There is no hope.
3. You Suck at Your Job
Well maybe not completely suck. But you are spread so thin that your performance isn’t measuring up. You are making mistakes, your creativity has taken a long vacation, your To Do list is just never ending and you can’t seem to get it under control.
Does any of this sound like you?
Then first, do you need to talk to your Doctor? If so, set up an appointment ASAP.
Next? Do Something. Anything. Pick one thing you can do this week to change your situation. If you need help; find a support system, set a call me with to chat or talk to someone.
Accept that it is time to change and make that your number one priority going forward.
A couple of weeks ago we had a long weekend here in Ontario with Family Day falling on Monday. My husband, Justin, and I took it as an opportunity for a quick weekend getaway, heading up to cottage country to spend some time in winter wonderland!
During our weekend we did two grueling snow shoe hikes in snow that went up to our thighs (thank goodness for those snow shoes!) going up and down “mountains” for some spectacular views. At the top of one of climbs Justin turned back to me and said ‘you should write about this, about overcoming obstacles’. And from that point on, I couldn’t help but notice the parallels of our journey in the woods to the journey to a career change.
During our hikes, there were many times when it just seemed so easy and so much fun. I was on top of the world, taking in the beautiful scenery, enjoying the time with Justin and feeling like nothing was going to stop me, that I “got this”. And then that would change. Maybe it was a steep hill to climb up or down, or just fatigue setting in. But no matter what it came. The hard times. When it was harder to move forward.
That’s life though isn’t it? A series of highs and lows. So why wouldn’t be a career change be the same thing? I know that isn’t something we want to hear and sometimes the message out there is that a career change is so easy, just sell your transferable skills and of course it will happen for you!
But it doesn’t work like that. It takes a lot of hard work. A LOT. Which means that you need to be persistent. It also means that you will need to be resilient because you will face more rejection than a normal job search.
And it isn’t like a hike. Where you are descending a steep hill only to fall. Or even a normal job search where nothing seems to be going right. But when you are hiking or in a normal job search you can’t give up, it isn’t an option. You have to pick yourself up and dust yourself off again and keep at it.
But a career change is different. Chances are you are in a job right now. You may hate your job but you are in one nonetheless, so quitting is an option.
Which is why it is so common to give up. I know because I gave up. I’m coming up on 10 years from being laid off from my first job, the job that when I left I said I was going to go into career coaching. But didn’t. Because it was too hard. When I did get my first job in career coaching I left to go back to recruiting. Because that opportunity wasn’t right for me. But instead of finding one that worked, I gave up. And it took 4 more years before I finally said enough was enough. Before I realized how to make this career dream work for me. Before I committed and went all in. All in on the highs. All in on the lows.
What was different this time, is that I prepared myself for the lows. So that when I failed or was facing something that seemed impossible, I had a survival guide to help me through it.
In my survival guide, I focused on some key areas that I knew had tripped me up in the past or had a feeling could trip me up in the future. Today, I want to share this guide with you so that you are equipped to survive the lows of the career change journey, so that you won’t give up on your dreams.
SURVIVAL TIP ONE: GAIN CLARITY
One of the things that held me back in the past was that I just wasn’t positive what I wanted, career coaching had always been an interest but was it the one? At one point in my career change (about 6 years ago), I had a list of 20 career options! So it was so hard to commit to a career change when I wasn’t too sure what that career change was exactly. But once I went through some self-reflection work I finally gained that clarity allowing me to finally commit to it.
SURVIVAL TIP TWO: FIND MY MOTIVATION
I knew that there would be times when my motivation just wasn’t there. Where I struggled to show up. So I would refer back to my goals – why I was doing this. I would visit my Pinterest page for motivation and inspiration. I would cut myself some slack, if I needed a day to take care of me than I would take that day!
SURVIVAL TIP THREE: BUILD SUPPORT
I tend to be a lone wolf. I like to do things myself and then say “voila” and present it to the world, I don’t tend to invite people in while I’m trying to accomplish something. I knew that had been a problem in the past so I was determined to not be like that this time. It started small, just letting my husband in on the idea and then slowly telling family, friends and then putting it out there on a more public scale. This was SO HARD for me, but it helped me with accountability.
I also built a support system around me with a Business Coach and mentors (other career coaches) so that I could learn all the ins and outs of starting this business and how to be the best career coach. When I had a question I knew I could count on them to help me out.
SURVIVAL TIP FOUR: PREPARE FOR FEAR
I knew that fear was inevitable. In the past fear would tell me I wasn’t good enough, or had me doubting my abilities or terrify me about the prospect of failure. And I would listen and quit. But not this time. I prepared myself to acknowledge fear but also to ignore it!
SURVIVAL TIP FIVE: CARVE OUT TIME
Time was definitely a factor. Now my career change wasn’t completely typical since I started my own business but I didn’t quit my job and launch into it. No, I had to juggle the starting my new business with my recruitment job. And I was still concerned about the same things in my Job Search Roadmap, marketing, networking, selling myself. So I had to be creative with my time management. There were many early mornings or late nights, and busy lunch breaks. And while I was committed, I was also forgiving of myself for those weeks or months (I didn’t write a single article in November or December of 2017!) when I just didn’t have as much time as I wanted to devote to the job search.
A career change is more than possible. When you are ready to put in the work and to commit to getting through those lows then it isn’t a matter of if but a matter of when.
If you are going through a change and want to add to your support system, reach out and schedule a Discover Your Career Strategy call. I look forward to helping you survive the lows of the career change journey.
Sara Curto, Career Management Specialist. Working with you towards Career and Job Search Success.
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