When it Comes to Career Happiness, You Have Options

The noise and distraction of the open-plan office. The lack of growth and challenge. The long commute. 

It is remarkably easy to become hyper-focused on the negative aspects of your job. They can consume your thoughts and make you dread showing up to work. Quitting can start to feel like the only option you have. 

While quitting is sometimes the right answer, I want you to know that it’s most likely not your only option. 

The key is to first understand what’s causing you to want to quit your job. From there you can explore solutions to help you meet that specific need. Once you understand why you’re feeling unfulfilled, it may be easier to see your job in a more balanced way or make small changes that will have a big impact. 

I’ve been working with clients who have been aimless and unfulfilled by their jobs for a few years now. I’m continually surprised by how few people end up quitting their job so I recently crunched the numbers. Here’s the rough breakdown I typically see during my 3-month program:

  • 10% quit with the goal of taking time off and recharging

  • 25% find a new job (sometimes they’re not even looking, a job finds them!)

  • 15% stay and end up finding new appreciation, meaning and enjoyment in their job

  • 50% stay and work towards their eventual next step (this could be a new role, a new company, or a new field)

In the end, 65% of my clients are still in the same job after working with me for 3 months.

These clients may not stay in their positions for the long-term, but they’ve made enough of a mindset shift for now. They understand what their job means to them in the short-term and how it may help them accomplish various career goals.

The Mindset Shift

With a bit of effort, we have the power to change how we relate to our job -- even if absolutely none of our external circumstances change. Often this happens by shifting our mindset, gaining perspective, or by understanding our strengths better. 

Let me give you a few examples:

  • One client was feeling bored, disengaged and undervalued at his small company. His role wasn’t a particularly good fit for his strengths and he didn’t have as much responsibility as he wanted. Through exploring his interests, he proposed a change to his manager to take on more work related to the company finances. Despite feeling that he didn’t have the formal training necessary, this was an area where he wanted to grow. Based on that conversation, he started down a path that led him to taking over all financial aspects of the company. He absolutely loves his new role and responsibilities.

  • Another client had no energy or motivation and it was spilling over into her personal life. She discovered that she’s had a lifelong dream of becoming a concept artist and decided to start taking steps to move in that direction. She created a 6-month plan that allowed her to stay in her current role while building her portfolio. She focused on gaining the skills necessary to eventually make the jump.

  • A third client came to me concerned that her job wasn’t challenging her at all. Her family and friends kept commenting that she could do better. After clarifying her values, it became clear that although the job was less challenging, it was allowing her to fulfill her biggest value. Providing for her family was her number one priority. This job allowed her to do that and she was willing to accept the tradeoff of less challenge at that point in her life. She started seeing her job in a completely new light. 

Identifying Values, Strengths and Upsides

To think about your own situation, ask yourself the following three questions:

  1. How does your role align with your values? What’s important to you and how is your current role prioritizing those things? Is it giving you financial stability or adventure or community or creativity?

  2. How does it align with your strengths? What are you good at? What skills do you have? What are your interests? Are there changes you can make to your current role to align more with your strengths, skills or interests?

  3. What are the potential upsides of your job that you don’t immediately come to mind? Do you have extra time or mental energy at the end of the day that you could put towards other goals or gaining new skills? Do you actually have a pretty flexible schedule? Does your long commute allow you to read or listen to podcasts or meditate? Are you able to completely disengage at the end of the day and have energy for friends and family?

After reviewing these three questions, are you able to see your job in a new way? Is quitting is the right next step for you?