Dear Annie: I enjoy my job, but I’m not satisfied. I’m not sure what I’m missing, though. I think I’m just daydreaming about an ideal job that probably doesn’t exist. But I don’t know how to reconcile that. I don’t want to be at my current job longer than another year or two. But that time is time I could be spending being happier, more fulfilled in my daily life. People say we should “live every day like it’s our last,” but that seems unrealistic – and financially unsound. If I knew I’d be dead in a year, I’d quit my job today. But that would be an irresponsible decision in the long term.
What should I do? I hate feeling resentful of my job – a good job, with nice co-workers and bosses – because it isn’t what I really want to do. I would hate to realize too late that I should have been chasing what I really want instead of settling for what’s conventional and “smart.” I want to live. – Restless Representative
Dear Restless Representative: The grass is always greener. We are accustomed to only hearing or filtering out the positives of others’ lives. The danger is that you’re not listening to or thinking about how mundane other careers might be and undermining yourself in a job that you enjoy.
That said, I do think it’s important for you to sit down and write out a list of your skills, your interests and your needs. This will help you understand what types of careers would fit your abilities and desires while balancing what you would like to achieve, both financially and personally.
As you understand this, begin to network in these fields and really to listen to people as they describe their professional lives. Evaluate this against your current job, and determine whether you truly want to shift careers. You simultaneously should be thinking about what it is that is not satisfying you in your job. Spend time understanding what is creating this sense of missing out, and think about whether there is some way you could find this in your current job. If there is, speak with your manager and create a plan to achieve it. He or she should be excited to work with you on this, as it would make you more productive.
In addition, create games to keep yourself motivated at work currently. Set targets each day for goals to achieve, and give yourself a sense of accomplishment each day. This will help you stay focused at work while you go on a path of discovery.
How you do one thing is how you do everything.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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