There are people out there who love what they’re doing. They jump out of bed in the morning with excitement, ready to take on the day. This isn’t true for everyone. In fact, burnout numbers are skyrocketing. According to a recent Deloitte workplace burnout survey, 77% of respondents said they had experienced burnout at their current job.
Many employees are feeling more exhausted and overwhelmed than ever before. The desire for personal and professional fulfillment is no longer a myth but an important career goal we can’t keep overlooking.
You might be sitting at a desk as you read this, the hum of the light fixtures buzzing away, phones ringing and chatter somewhere down the hall. Something about sitting in that chair and doing that next boring task is starting to feel unbearable. Perhaps you should explore a new department, work your way up to management — eventually? Either way, you’ll be stuck in a mediocre job where your talents are underutilized.
You haven’t quite had that honest sit-down conversation with yourself, but it’s long overdue. Getting up in the morning is hard. You dream of change but make excuses. You want a career you love over clock-watching at your desk. You want to matter and make a difference. For me, it meant leaving the traditional corporate world behind to pursue professional coaching and more conscious entrepreneurship.
Career advice might help (maybe even a Marie Kondo-style overhaul). You need a change — any change — but you’re not quite sure what that might be. This is a widespread issue.
Having made it this far at an unbearable job is no easy feat. Something that once seemed aligned is no longer fit for who you are today. Those feelings you keep overlooking — being underutilized, undervalued or even burned out in the workplace — are contemporary symptoms born from overwork, toxic work environments, unhealthy competition and harmful capitalism.
This loss of workplace satisfaction isn’t new. If you’re constantly feeling stressed, bored or overwhelmed, then you’re working for something you don’t really care about. Or worse, you’ve altogether forgotten to care for yourself and replaced it with what you can produce for others.
Whose Dream Are You Living?
What’s stopping you? The daunting journey of taking action, the fear of letting others down, the worries of starting over or confusion about where to even begin? My clients experience all of these inner doubts that keep them stuck. The reality is, you might have become attached to “inherited dreams,” a term I use for the perceived ambition you were assigned by your parents or those around you.
Having ambitions yet being stuck is awful, but having ambitions very different from where you currently are is spiritual torture, especially when you’re hard-working and high-achieving. Your bank account may be productive, but you’re not.
In order to get moving, you have to pause, take note and ask yourself:
• Are you proud of what you do?
• Do you feel energized each day?
• Are your health and relationships in the best state?
• Does your value system align with that of those you work with?
If you answered no to some of those, you’re ready to take a step forward. Sitting at the same desk any longer is going to leave you more dissatisfied (if that’s even possible!). The signs will show up again and again, as a reminder that you’re not where you’re meant to be.
The next step is to discover who you are and what happiness could look like. Most people tend to separate the personal from the professional. However, there is something important about honoring the whole person. When anxiety and dissatisfaction permeate all areas, the energy put toward a work life that’s unsatisfying is taken away from a future work life you can find meaning in.
A New Direction
Think about your core values, such as health or being out in nature, and your unique skills and interests, such as patience, gardening or building things. How can these transferable skills work in a new field?
In each of us is a creative child who was ignored in favor of the safe, salaried position at a comfy job with benefits. We’re no longer aligned with our spiritual selves. If you knew you could find inspiring work, the kind that is deeply fulfilling and rewarding, then you might just consider it.
Once you start to connect that inner you with your values and skills, you become aware of the bigger picture and the impact you can have in the world around you. This motivation, I find, is the fire that sparks new ideas, new work and better dreams. That’s the fun part — you can dream something new and succeed.