Office Space resonated so well with disgruntled workers everywhere that even people who haven’t seen the movie can identify Milton or recognize the scene where they finally destroy the chronically jammed fax machine. Almost all of us have been at a job past the point where things like a receptionist’s overly loud and perky greeting or the person who insists on delivering every piece of junk mail straight to your desk goes from merely annoying to insufferable.
Then the weekend comes, and you look at your house or your apartment and see all the stuff you have because of the paycheck from that job. Or you get sick and need expensive medication, and think, “I wouldn’t be able to take care of this without my job.” Even worse: maybe you have friends who have been unemployed for months and they envy you for having that annoying job.
After a while, it’s easy to believe them. It must be good to have a job for the sake of having a place to go every day, to contribute to society even in a limited way, have a steady paycheck, and health insurance.
It doesn’t help that many people are in organizations that have experienced major cuts in the workforce over the past few years. If you are in such an organization, you might be experiencing a feeling like survivor guilt because you’re there when other colleagues didn’t make the cut.career opportunities. It can start seeming like what you have now is all you deserve, and it’s not worth even considering other options, but just because you feel stuck doesn’t mean you’re destined to stay there forever.
Take these stirrings of discontent as a challenge to evaluate your current situation. Set aside some time on one of those weekends before the Sunday blues set in and ask yourself some questions:
- Why do I work? What do I need out of my job to feel like it is worthwhile?
- If I could have any schedule I wanted, what would it be?
- What kind of environment would I like to work in? Do I really like office work or would I be happier outside?
- What skills do I truly delight in using?
- What do I want to spend more time doing?
- What are my biggest accomplishments?
Taking the time to understand and acknowledge what matters to you is a good step toward feeling more empowered about your career. Based on what you learn about yourself, it may be helpful to consider additional values or skills assessments. You can also research careers on the Occupational Outlook Handbook or America’s Career Infonet.
Another activity that can be helpful is connecting with other people in your professional network and learning more about what they do. You can do this in many ways. Professional development through conferences and workshops in your field or industry can be an excellent way to meet people. Other options include interacting with groups through sites like LinkedIn. Reaching out and getting involved will help you get out of your routine, and connect with people who can support you in the transition to more rewarding work.
As you continue your journey, keep in mind that being dissatisfied with your job does not make you bad, frivolous, ungrateful or a poor planner. Theorist Donald Super developed his Life Span Life Space Theory based on the fact that we all participate in multiple roles at each stage of life, and the extent of our participation varies as we develop. Consequently, our needs and values shift over the course of our development. Most of the time, jobs don’t do well when it comes to growing with people, so people tend to grow out of jobs. Take this as an opportunity to find something that delights you where you are now.
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