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 email@example.com to schedule yours.
I'm sure it comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me or follows me on Facebook or Twitter that I love to read.
I read every day for at least an hour. It is how I start and end my day. When I wake up, I grab a coffee and read, usually a nonfiction or heavier read. At the end of the day, I climb into bed an read a more lighthearted book, like a Young Adult or Chick Lit novel. Anytime I have 5 minutes here or there is sure to be spent reading. Reading for me is like breathing.
I get asked for recommendations all the time so thought I would compile this list of the top 10 fiction books that I read this year.
1. Child Finder by Rene Denfeld
This book was gripping. It is a story of a female private investigator who specializes in finding children who are missing, a unique talent she has because she was once a "lost girl" . Rene is the perfect author for this book as she herself is a private investigator!
2. The Silent Wife by A. S. A Harrison
I liked this book because I found both characters despicable, a couple who are in a troubled marriage who make horribly selfish decisions that lead to murder. Part of the reason why I read is to expose myself to people I wouldn't normally, especially people I would despise because it allows me a greater capacity to empathize.
3. Force of Nature by Jane Harper
Another thriller, I really started last year off wanting to read thrillers, I tend to go through phases like that. This book twists and turns and every time you think you are making sense of it all, it quickly changes again! This is a story of a group of 5 employees who go off on a wilderness retreat but only 4 come out again. There is suspense, the woods, many suspects and not a single reliable narrator - so it pretty much has everything you want in a thriller!
4. The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan
Nina is a librarian who is laid off. She moves to the Scottish Highlands and opens a mobile bookstore. It has a career change, love story, books and it takes place where I want to go most in the world - pretty much a book made for me! Other great books by Jenny are: Cafe by the Sea (another career change on a Scottish Highland Island!) and Little Beach Street Bakery. Both of which have follow up books.
5. We Were on a Break by Lindsey Kelk
A couple go on holiday with a plan to get engaged but instead they break up. We hear from both of them throughout the book and how things got adrift and their attempts to make sense of it all. This book was a nice and funny read!
6. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
If you read and loved Educated by Tara Westover (on my Nonfiction list) then you will love this book. This book is about a family in the 1970's. The father is a Vietnam War vet who uproots his family and moves to Alaska to homestead. Kristin is an incredible writer and this book pulls you into Leni, the daughter's, world. I'm just diving into the other Kristin Hannah books and I'm sure they will be present on next year's list!
7. All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffen
Emily Giffen is known for Something Borrowed and Something Blue but this book is no Chick Lit. It is about a scandal at a Nashville prep school between a boy from a well off family and a girl who goes to the school on scholarship (she is Latina and from the "wrong side of the tracks"). I happened to read it during the Judge Kavanaugh hearings which was quite fitting. For me, it opened my eyes even further into that world.
8. When Life Gives you Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger
Did you ever read The Devil Wears Prada, well this book follows Emily - the other assistant. Emily is now a "fixer" for celebrities who has seen a downturn in work. Emily is a great character and it was fun to check in on her and "hear" her voice!
9. The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
This is based on a true network on women spies in the WWI. It travels back and forth between 1915 and 1947. In 1915, we are with one of the new recruits and we see her story as she becomes a spy for the Brits. In 1947, we are with an American travelling to Europe to get her pregnancy "dealt with" before she escapes to try and find her cousin who disappeared during WWII. It was a fascinating story and one that I learned a lot from which is the best part of historical fiction!
10. On A Beautiful Day by Lucy Diamond
This story is about 4 friends who are out having lunch and who witness a vehicle lose control and drive into a group of pedestrians. Not surprisingly, this event changes all of their lives and we are witness to those changes. A week after I read this, the same thing happened here in Burlington, so I think about the people involved and who witnessed that accident and I know that their lives will never be the same. Books open my world up to different types of people, situations and problems, and this book and that accident reminded me of that.
What books did you love this year?
Have you heard about “hygge”? I first heard about the concept when I read the book, “The Year of Living Danishly” by Helen Russell.
This book is on my list of must reads and another one that I talk about ALL. THE. TIME. I read the book last fall and immediately began implementing the idea in my home. And with another winter bearing down on us and going through an especially gloomy fall here in Ontario I’ve decided to get my home office cozy, warm and all around “hygge”.
What is it? Hygge (pronounced “hoo-gah”) translates very roughly to coziness and creating an atmosphere that gives you a feeling of contentedness and joy.
For me, it helps during those long cold winter months when the sun hardly comes out (remember last January – I don’t think it came out once!). I don’t know how much hygge had to do with my moods but I really found last winter to be fairly “easy” to get through.
This year I’ve extended it to my office space. I’m not a designer by any stretch of imagination and I’m pretty frugal, so I wanted to make a space that was cozy with few purchases and ones that can be multi-purposed throughout the year. I know many people are the same so I wanted to show off my “normal” person’s hygge office.
There are five main hygge concepts that I really focused on:
CANDLES AND SOFT LIGHT
This is the best thing you can do to create a hygge atmosphere in your home and office.
I have these two Maple Praline and Caramel candles that I got at Winners. After taking these pictures I immediately lit them and writing resumes with their flickering light on a rainy day was wonderful.
I also have a light that I got at IKEA years ago when I first starting working from home. It creates a nice soft light atmosphere, exactly what I'm looking for.
Bringing in blankets, putting on the fire, cozy socks and sweaters - the point of this is to really just get warm and cozy. I don't have a fireplace in my office (wouldn't that be the dream!) but I do bring in a space heater. I always have a blanket wrapped around my legs and have a warm sweater on. My aunt got me the Indigo Reading Socks for my birthday and I LIVE in them all winter long!
BRING THE OUTSIDE IN
Since we may not spend too much time outdoors in the Winter, we want to surround ourselves with the outdoors inside. So natural products like wood, marble, and clay are great. I got a set of 4 coasters from Winners that I love - they are wood and marble. I use them as coasters but also as candle holders!
From Holland Park in Burlington, I picked up this clay pot with 3 succulents in it. When choosing a plant, I knew I needed something low maintenance as caring for a plant is not something I'm good at! I love the different colours, textures and honestly I feel so much joy every time I look at it on my desk!
Nothing says getting cozy then curling up with a hot chocolate. During the work day though, that doesn't really happen. But I do love tea, especially tea that is comforting. I recently picked up a STASH tea - chamomile with cinnamon and vanilla, talk about a cozy tea for a cold day!
Years ago I picked up this teapot from Winners or Home Sense and I love filling it up and then drinking it throughout the morning or afternoon. It feels so good for my soul.
FAMILY AND FRIENDS
This is a big one but also a hard one to encapsulate in your office. During the winter months, you want to spend time as a family in your living room all together. We like to grab our books, games, puzzles and all congregate around the fireplace in our living room with our hot chocolates. In my office, I opted for lots of photos literally surrounding myself with my loved ones!
The final result: It isn't designer or maybe even pinterest worthy, but it was created with less than $50 and during these cold dreary weeks has been exactly what I wanted - a comfortable and cozy office to spend my days in.
Sara Curto, Career Management Specialist. Working with you towards Career and Job Search Success.
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