“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” -Confucious.
Imagine working at a job you have never enjoyed, for 40 years or more. Millions of people are doing just that, stuck in a job or career that doesn’t bring them satisfaction or happiness. They work week after week with the goal of simply making it to the weekend.
Do you become anxious every Sunday evening in anticipation of the work week ahead? Do you find that you are using up your vacation days when the year is barely half over and that sick days are more often mental health days? Do you lay awake at night, wondering if this is all there is. If you have a boss who is nasty and mean or even just lacks empathy and compassion or you work with someone who bullies and sabotages those around them, it can be toxic and in fact has shown to be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Studies also show that stress in your job can lead to anxiety and depression. One 2011 study reported in Science Daily also came to the conclusion that being unemployed can be better for your mental health than working at a job that you hate. As the years pass, your only focus may be when you will be able to retire so you can finally do what makes you happy.
Sure the money may be good and the benefits keep you in your place and there are even moments when you might think things could be worse. One of the excuses that prevents many from taking that leap, is stepping into the unknown. It’s a tough job market out there, the competition is tough and each year the candidates seem to get younger and more qualified. But don’t sell yourself short.
Do you want to look back on your resume and think, “what a waste… all those years that I was unhappy and stressed?” Our biggest obstacle to having a satisfied work life is confidence and courage. Throughout my life I let my insecurities block me from seeking a happier life. Banish the word “can’t” from your vocabulary and replace it with “won’t” and you will realize what is really stopping you. Once you understand that, then replace it with “I can” and “I will.”
It appears that there hasn’t been a lot of research into how many career paths the average person takes. If you Google it you will get responses suggesting that the average person will change jobs 5–7 times during their working life, but it says nothing about those who change career paths. An online survey of Canadians in November 2019 by Censuswide for job search website Indeed Canada, found that 38% of those surveyed made a complete career change and another 35% were considering making a change. Of those who did make a move, 87% (almost 9 in 10) say they are happier after changing their career path.
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it” – Steve Jobs
Doing What You Love
So what can you do? First realize that there is more out there. Maybe you fell into your career because of family pressure or the education path you were on, only to realize that is not really your true passion. But in order to find satisfaction you need to find your passion and apply it to your life. It’s true that it may not pay as much or the job opportunities may not be as strong, but doing something you love will give you a sense of purpose and contentment in your life that your current job could never provide.
Discover what it is that makes you happy. What do you do in your spare time that you look forward to; arts and crafts, writing, cooking, baking, playing with your kids, taking photos, playing your guitar, the list is endless and everyone is different. If there is more than one thing that gets you excited, think about how you could combine those things into one job. You may not be able to be a rock star or a best selling author (although you will never know if you don’t at least try) but you can probably find a job out there that combines your unique skills and talents and makes you happy. You could even ease yourself into a new career as a part-time sideline so you don’t have to give up your security. As long as you are doing something you love, you won’t mind putting in the extra hours to fine tune your skills and that is always a recipe for success.
Planning Your Move
One piece of advice- don’t quit your job without a plan in place. That same Indeed Canada survey found that 62% of those who switched careers, planned and prepared for their transition for an average of 11 months. It may require more education to realize your dreams and I know how hard that can be when you have bills to pay and other responsibilities but consider taking one course at a time. It may take years to complete but in 10 years do you want to be in the same place you are today?
If you are still not clear what you can or want to do, take a look at some of the self-help books and websites that can help you discover that, like “What Color Is My Parachute.” It helps you figure out who you are and what you really want to be.
Make the next phase of your life, no matter how old or how young you are, the best time of your life. No one should dread the idea of going into work every day. It leads to mental health issues like depression and it blocks you from becoming the success you can be.
“Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work” – Aristotle.