Sunday, September 14th, 2008
I hate my job. Well, at least I used to. Let me start at the beginning.
As long as I can remember, I’ve been an overachiever. All throughout elementary and high school, I went from wanting to be a scientist to wanting to be a journalist. The days of dreaming about DNA in test tubes quickly gave way to thoughts of working in a busy office environment editing news stories and meeting deadlines. Bringing home anything less than an ‘A’ was unacceptable, and earning my Baccalaureate, Masters and then PhD was never an option; it was only a matter of being able to answer the question: “in what?” I finally decided on writing and editing because I determined it was what I liked above all else. When college rolled around, I earned a full athletic scholarship to North Carolina State University for cross country and track. And all throughout my undergraduate years, I thought I wanted to be a journalist. I even did an internship for a well known, local magazine, but I soon realized that this wasn’t what I wanted to do; so through the course of taking a few electives, I transitioned into the fascinating field of Sociolinguistics and went on to earn my Masters degree in Linguistics. I set aside my applications for PhD programs when I came to the horrific realization that somewhere along the lines of having endured non-stop education from the time I was two years-old; I was burned out with school.
The problem with most people who are unhappy in their “chosen” careers is that they are the victims of their own misery. When I was in college, I was so determined to get that coveted sheet of paper-you know, the one that said I was a “Master of Arts” that I actually ended up losing focus of the other things around me that were important: my happiness. I thought that having proof of an advanced degree would somehow make me happy, but in the end I was burned out and miserable…miserable because my only plan of action at that point was to immediately continue into getting my PhD, and I hadn’t exactly factored “burn out” into the mix. And of course, as fate would have it, this all happened during my last couple of months of college. With plan ‘A’ shot to hell and no plan ‘B’ to speak of, I knew I had to act fast otherwise I would wind up moving back home with my tail between my legs, so I did what anyone else in my situation would do: I joined the police department.
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
In retrospect, I can understand now how experience makes you wiser. Going through the police academy taught me many things, mainly that I did NOT want to be a police officer for a living. Needless to say, it was a unique experience and I certainly credit many of my friends and other officers I’ve met who are still serving the fine state of North Carolina. But there came a point early on when I first enrolled in the police department when I thought to myself, “This is a mistake; you’re only doing this because you couldn’t find a job fast enough”. It’s true. I knew that I needed a job relatively quickly and the police department was hiring. 2+ 2=4, right? Wrong. Sometimes you have to re-do the math and show your work. I really didn’t think it through. In fact, I even made up excuses and justified how a career in the police department might actually work out for me. I could take my background in writing and editing, combine it with my background in sociolinguistics and maybe wind up as a detective behind a desk someday solving the world’s problems one crime at a time. Who the heck was I kidding?
The long hours quickly wore me down. I would come home exhausted after a 10-12 hour midnight shift and get up the very next day to do it all over again. The work, while it was physically challenging, was not mentally challenging enough. I found myself bored while I was at work, and then too exhausted when I came home to do much of anything else. What little social life I did have had almost died, and I soon found myself absolutely dreading going to work. Hardly my dream career. My overall outlook on where my career was heading seemed bleak. I had been applying to jobs but only half-heartedly because negative thoughts coupled with low self confidence as well as feeling trapped in my current career were heavy on the forefront. It finally took several long talks with my boyfriend and family to realize that I was the captain of the ship, and as the captain, I needed to pick a direction and stop blowing around in the wind. I wrote down all of the things that were worrying me, possible solutions to the problems as well as why the problems weren’t getting solved, and you know what was to blame? My attitude.
I wish I had Known Then What I Know Now
Having been an athlete all my life, you would’ve thought that I might have had an inkling into just how powerful a role your mental state plays in your life. Negative thoughts are like a virus. Once they get into your head, they have the potential to spread and multiply like wildfire. I felt like I wasn’t in control of my career path. I began to feel miserable and didn’t even know why. Getting out of bed every day and chanting to yourself, “I hate my job I hate my job” is bound to get anyone down.
I think that the vast majority of people wind up in jobs or careers that they hate simply because their minds aren’t completely made up with what they really want to do. This lack of experience lands you in a never ending circle of self-doubt, low confidence and feeling like you have to stick with whatever job you because you’re now bound by financial obligations, etc. The key to happiness is changing your attitude. If you’re unhappy about something- anything, assess why you feel that way. Write it down, tell a friend. Whatever you do, just make sure that you do something. (Karl’s note: I agree. One small step leads to another, which builds a career.) In my own struggles to get out of a dead-end career and into something more suitable, the following things have helped me:
Be knowledgeable: Know what makes you happy. If you don’t know, perhaps it’s time to figure it out.
Be determined: Know what your goals are and stick to them.
Be positive: Know that things can and typically do go wrong. Nobody is perfect, but you can be better by knowing how to more effectively handle your stress.
Be surrounded: Know that you are not alone. Use your resources: write down your thoughts; talk to a friend. These things will help you. Surround yourself with positive people who will encourage and guide you to make positive changes in your life.
Be wise: You’re never too old to make a change, and you’re never too young to learn from your mistakes. (Karl’s note: Yes! Go for your career happiness now!)
Janelle Vadnais is the Social Media Manager for Unlimited Web Solutions, Inc. and is the main blog writer for Create Business Growth. You can follow her on Twitter also at ‘janellevadnais‘ or visit her on StumbleUpon.
Articles All About Finding a Job that will Bring You Career Happiness:
- Building Your Future Career Foundation
- Never Stop Expanding Your Network
- Give It Your All, Not for Your Boss, But for Your Own Work Happiness
If anyone is interested in writing a story or article for Work Happy Now, please contact me at karl (at) workhappynow.com, thanks.
Image courtesy of lamazone