Are you happy with your career?

by Ron Potter

During this time of lock-down when we have the opportunity for some deep thoughts, now may be the best time to ask yourself if you’re happy with your career choices or happy in the career you find yourself in.

People can get stuck in jobs that reflect what they’re good at rather than what they’re happy with.

One of the Best

I was working with a client that was very good at what they were doing.  They worked in the finance department and were constantly noticed by bosses and peers as one of the best.  Because of this deserved reputation, they had been promoted on a regular basis and were making a salary that was beyond what they dreamed they would be making at this point in their career.

We were having a one-on-one session when they said something almost shocking.  “I hate what I’m doing!”  They knew they had been treated fairly, were compensated well for what they did, and even experienced satisfaction when they accomplished the tasks that were expected of them.  But this is not what they wanted to be doing!  Given their preference they would be much happier working with people instead of numbers.  They wished that had made different career choices earlier.  Now they felt trapped by the position and salary.

One Career may not last

I worked in three very different industries—engineering/construction, computers, consulting—over my career.  I enjoyed working in each of the three but found myself searching for something new and different in each assignment.  When I got to the point where I needed to change, I often found that I had been working toward the new industry for about ten years.  At that point, it was a matter of pulling the trigger to move on.  I don’t want to give the idea that any of those changes were easy.  I’ve gone broke a couple of times.  I’ve spent several years on the bottom rung of a new position before feeling proficient at what I was doing.  It always impacted my family every time I changed!

But I did it!  It wasn’t easy but I did it.

Adam Kurtz in his book Things are What you Make of Them lists 7 steps you can take to be happier with your career.

  • Don’t look back in anger
  • Check your pulse
  • Do your research
  • Update your skillset
  • Hold yourself accountable
  • Step away and take a moment for yourself
  • Just go for it

Don’t Look Back in Anger

The client I mentioned earlier seemed angry at the career they found themselves “trapped” in.  We all make decisions with the best information we have at the time.  That information may even include personal and family needs; college tuition, aging parents, single provider, debts, etc.  Don’t second guess.  Make the best decision at the time.  Now may or may not be the best time to make a new decision.

Check your Pulse

A high pulse is NOT a good thing.  If your work is providing you with a high pulse on a regular base, make a new decision.

Do Your Research

After I wrote my book Trust Me a family member told me they had read the book.  After thanking them, I asked if it provided any insight.  Their response was “Yes, I quit my job!”  That wasn’t quite what I expected so I asked them what triggered that response.

Reading your book helped me realize that the company I had joined had changed over the years and I hadn’t noticed.  All the aspects of good leadership written about in the book were why I had gone to work for the company in the first place.  But, over the years that had all disappeared and I hadn’t noticed.  I didn’t want to work there anymore.  I wanted to work someplace where I would be happy.

Update Your Skillset

Every position requires a slightly different skillset.  Find out what the new ones are.  Learn about them.  Read.  Educate.  Practice.  Get better.

Hold Yourself Accountable

If you’re not happy with your career, there is only one person responsible.  You!

This goes along with the first piece of advice about not looking back in anger.  You’re responsible.  Make the decision that’s right for you.  Don’t look back.  Especially don’t look back with anger.  It was your decision.  Do you need to make a new one?  As the last point recognizes, make it.

Step Away and Take a Moment for Yourself

This is being forced on us by this lock-down portion of the pandemic we’re dealing with.  Use the time wisely

Just Go for It

I’m not a big Nike fan but just do it.  It means your happiness and likely your health.  If it’s right for you, just go for it.

Go for Happiness

The world tells us to go for the big bucks.  Be in a position of power.  Be seen as possessing the best skill set.  However, if you talk with people (and you should) who are at the end of their career or even approaching the end of their life, they’ll tell you to go for happiness.

When people are approaching the end of their life, their best memories are of the relationships they developed over the years.

When I was recovering from open-heart surgery and subsequent infection a few years ago, different friends would visit me almost every day.  Finally, the day nurse asked if I was part of a large family.  When I said no, she was surprised because she thought that my “brothers” had been visiting me every day.  I explained to her that “yes, they were my brothers” but they were not family.  She was envious.  They all seemed so close and concerned about me, she thought they were family.

Each of my “brothers” had been a part of the different careers.  I had chosen happiness.  It made me happy.

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