What Keeps You Awake at Night?

Am I in the Right Career?

Are you laying awake at night because you are not satisfied with where you are at in your career? It doesn’t make sense, but yet it bothers you so much that you are losing sleep over it. And you can’t understand why.

You really knew what you wanted to do as a career.

You knew it in high school and picked colleges that had majors in your functional area and got selected to a great program. By studying hard, getting good grades. and doing a couple of internships you got terrific experiences.

When it came time for interviews, every one you applied for was accepted. From it you had some terrific job offers with some outstanding firms

You got what you thought was a dream job with a dream company.

It started out that way. Everything was glorious. You made some great friends and loved your work assignments. You were killing your projects and getting fantastic reviews. Each new project was a challenge you couldn’t wait to get started on.

Despite all of this, there was an underlying feeling that all was not well. As much as you loved what you were doing, where you were doing it, and who you were doing it with, something was missing. While you thought that everything should be fine, it wasn’t. And so you lie awake at night, thinking about what is bothering you and whether you are really where you want to be, doing what you really want to do.

Or, the opposite is true. You really weren’t sure what it was you wanted in a career.

While you have many skills and talents, you just weren’t sure what you really wanted to do. You got lots of advice from friends, family and counselors, on what your strengths were and how you should best utilize them.

You finally hit on a job with a company that you thought was a good fit. There were certainly challenges, but you never backed down from them and did well in completing your work. You got good reviews, but you never felt quite satisfied with what you were doing and the accomplishments you were making.

You are unhappy and each day seems like a drudge.

It gets harder and harder to get up each morning and you are tired because you are awake most of the night thinking about it. You are not sure what to do. You have taken advice all of your life and that got you to here. So if it hasn’t worked yet, why would taking any more be any different?

A global poll conducted by Gallup found that of the world’s one billion full-time workers, only 15% are engaged at work.

That means that 85% of working people are unhappy in their jobs. 

Why is this number so  high?

There are actually a large number of reasons as to why employees might be feeling disengaged with their work or employer. These are:

Poor Boss

A good relationship between a manager and staff goes a long way to shaping a team that is productive, hits targets and most importantly, gets along. 

This relationship may have the most impact on how people feel at work. If you like your manager then you’re more than likely going to enjoy being at work. No one wants to spend time with someone they don’t like  or who doesn’t like them, especially when that someone happens to hold some authority over them. 

Incompatable Colleagues

If you don’t like the people you work with then it’s likely that you won’t enjoy the time you spend at work. While it’s true that we don’t always like everyone, there are some people that we just cannot get along with no matter how hard we try. 

Type of Work

Sometimes, we find ourselves doing a job just to pay our way. Although we shouldn’t live to work, it’s important to feel somewhat happy and comfortable in the job you spend the majority of your waking hours performing. 

Time Spent Commuting

On average, we spend about one third of our lives at work. That’s approximately 90,000 of hours in a lifetime. Add to that a long and stressful commute five-plus days a week and job time adds up. Commuting can be one of the biggest reasons for people feeling unhappy in their job, even if they love the job itself. 

Stagnant Growth

Doing the same kind of work day in, day out can be tedious and laborious. This is especially true if you have been doing the same job for a long time. The saving grace may be the  prospect of growth and progression. However, some employers fail to offer this to their staff or promise it and never follow through. This creates resentment within the employee and also damages their trust and loyalty. 

These are just a few reasons why people might be feeling unhappy in their jobs. Other causes might include:

  • Overworking is another big issue. There is only so much that one person can do, and when someone starts burning the wick at both ends then it’s not unlikely for them to stop enjoying the work they used to love. 
  • Ethics. Some people hold their morals to a very high standard and expect others to do the same. However, there might be some people who have little to no moral compass that has an impact on us. 
  • Jealousy. Some people fixate on what others have and forget about what they are doing or where they are going themselves. 

So, you lie awake at night thinking that you are not in the right place functionally or physically.

Tim Gouw – Unsplash

Why not change? There are a variety of reasons, including:

  • Personal responsibility to be the breadwinner for the family. Looking for a new job brings uncertainty.
  • Lack of job opportunities. There are lots out there, but many that do no fit our skills or interests, Plus looking for a new job is extremely stressful.
  • Fear that you are wrong about the situation. You thought you had it all together and you didn’t. So maybe your thoughts about this are wrong and it is you, not the work that is the problem.
  • Fear of the unknown. We are creatures of habit and comfort. Sometimes we prefer what we know (even if wrong or bad) for what we don’t know.
  • Seniority complex. We earned our spot and don’t want to give it up. Plus there is that ego thing about admitting we were wrong about our career.
  • Good salary. Financially we are doing quite well. Do we really want to give up everything we have earned so far? The next venture may set us back and we don’t want to take a step back even if it eventually means two steps forward.

If you’ve read this, and don’t relate to anything here  then you’re lucky.

It’s a rare thing to find a job that you love inside and out. However, no one should feel miserable and trapped in a job that they simply hate. 

But of you have read this and one or more of these things apply, here are some recommendations to follow:

Make sure It’s your career you dislike, and not your job or your boss. If it is your career, then:

  • Do some soul-searching. Decide what it is that you really want to do with your life. I know a young man who studied Mechanical Engineering at Princeton University. Graduated top of his class with a straight A average. Got a great job with GM. After one year he decided he really wanted to work with young adults in a religious setting. So he quit his job, went back for training and now is a youth leader for his church.
  • Talk to others you know and respect about their jobs and careers. Find the people you trust and respect most and find out what they think about careers. Listen closely and follow their thoughts and advice.
  • Go on informational interviews. Once you have a few possible occupations in mind, talk to people who have the jobs you want. People are surprisingly generous with their time, especially if you come recommended by a friend. Ask your connections if they know anyone who knows anyone who does what you want to do.
  • Look for transferable skills. All occupations require skills that transfer to other jobs; the key is learning to look for the commonalities, instead of focusing on how far you have to go to make the transition.

Chances are, you’ll find that you already know a lot more than you think you do. That foundation will give you the confidence you need to start picking up the skills and networking your way into your new career

It’s a long life, and most career paths are more winding roads than straight lines.

If you’ve invested time and money in training for a career, only to discover that you hate your job, don’t panic. You are not alone. The average person has a couple of jobs in his or her lifetime.

Find out what works best for you and get going. And while you do, don’t lose sleep over it.

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