Trapped In A Dead-End Job


Are you trapped in a job that’s draining your life away? Stuck in a job with no future, no chance for advancement or worse yet, not even some variety in the work you do?

To people on the outside it might seem a simple solution; find something else to do and quit. Ah, if only it were that easy! It’s not like you haven’t thought of this very solution yourself of course, because you have. The real sticking point in the plan is finding what that, ‘something else’ could be.

That’s the difficulty isn’t it? You put in a full day grinding it out, and by the time you check out at the end of your day, you’re beat. Your skills may be confined to doing a certain kind of work; a specific job. You haven’t got a clue how to go about finding something else you’d enjoy doing, you can’t quit outright and start looking because you need the income. You look ahead at the time between the present and the day you can retire, and see a lot of monotonous hours doing the same thing you’ve come to hate. You don’t even want to think about it because it’s so depressing.

Some hard choices are going to have to be made, and you’re the one who has to make them. Before doing anything rash, do two things; determine your financial health and your obligations. Knowing how much money you have saved in bank accounts and any investments is critical to knowing how long you can support yourself if you had no pay coming in. Knowing your mandatory obligations will tell you the length of time you’ll have before exhausting those funds. You should also look for areas you could conserve or cut back on expenses before you quit and when you find them, start now.

So let’s look at your choices. The first choice is both the easiest and at the same time the worst.; do nothing and keep dragging yourself in daily hating both the job and yourself for not doing something about it. Depending on the length of time we’re talking about, can you mentally and physically tough it out? Does the money you receive compensate you enough that you can keep going without breaking or just withering away on the job?

A second choice is to speak with someone in your organization and see if you can be laid off. This could not only answer your prayers but make them happier too. The company might appreciate your years of service but at this point rather have a younger, hungrier person on the job, and one that costs them less. So it could be a win-win, and you’d be able to apply for financial help while you job search; maybe the employer even has some severance package that would get you out quicker and in better financial shape.

You could just quit of course as option number 3. This is usually a move made by people who are desperate, or by those who haven’t thought things through very much. If you quit, you potentially lose all references you worked hard to earn, and you may not qualify for employment insurance because of how you left. Quitting also makes you ineligible for many re-training programs and severance packages. On the other hand, if you are seriously finding the job is killing you, quitting might be the option you choose if just to save yourself.

One of the best things you can take advantage of when you walk away – no matter how you choose to do it – is to get involved in  re-training programs or employment workshops. These help you deal with the stress of unemployment, help you answer those tough questions you’ll face from future employers regarding the circumstances around why you left your last job. You’ll also find help figuring out what potential jobs or careers you could turn to next.

Be advised though, things may have changed significantly since you last looked for work. How are your computer skills? Many jobs now require online applications, emailed resumes, some require you to complete long assessments. Look around for free computer classes either online or in your neighbourhood.

Saving your sanity and being a nicer person to be around for the family might mean a drastic alteration to what you do for a living and for whom you do it. Such changes sometimes require courage and a complete makeover. Are you willing to invest the time and put in the energy to change your life for the better? It’s going to be hard work make no mistake; but the potential benefits might save your life.

There may be another option which is to look at the organization you currently work in and look at advancement, transfers, job sharing or cross-training into another role and split your responsibilities between several jobs. This requires a discussion, succession planning on the part of your employer and some flexibility on your part. If you go this route, don’t just present your problem to the boss, present the benefits the company would realize and make it an attractive alternative.

Look for ways out of the trap you find yourself in, and get yourself prepared now for the big leap you may choose to make. Breaking free may just be the answer and lining up support systems the way to make it happen.

Why A Perfect Job Becomes Stale (And It’s A Good Thing)


A phenomenon that happens often to many people I know may also have happened to you personally. This is when a job you once thought was the perfect job and you were thrilled to have it, becomes less appealing, less rewarding and sometimes downright boring. What went wrong?

In short the answer is nothing. In fact if anything, this can be wonderful news if you look at it from a different perspective, and I want to illustrate the positive side for those of you who might be feeling negative. You see what really has happened in the vast majority of instances is that the job itself hasn’t changed at all. However, with the passing of time from that first day you accepted this job as new, you have grown yourself. What was once new and challenging has become easy to do and the challenge has largely disappeared. And the challenge was your motivation.

So why is this a positive? Ah, well that’s because you my dear reader have improved in your abilities; your skills have significantly advanced to a degree where your mind is sending you a signal that it’s time for re-evaluation. You’ve heard that saying that it’s the journey not the destination that is important? You’re now the poster man or woman for that old adage. The journey to get where you are now was what you found stimulating and had you hungry to go to work everyday. But now, months or years later, you’re comfortable, complacent perhaps, and the job is not providing you with as much gratification because the journey is over; you’ve arrived.

This is precisely why people who often change jobs, or work from contract to contract are hard to fathom by those who stay in one job seemingly forever. Do you recall a generation of people who took a single job – maybe two at the very most for their entire lives? For those generations, it wasn’t cool to be so apparently self-absorbed in finding your job happiness, they worked to earn a living. But our generation and that of our children, is all about finding work that brings us meaning and fulfillment. When it wanes, look for another job and keep stimulated.

So in a practical sense, what to do? Well clearly, if you grow unhappy, you’ve ultimately got two simple choices – and it is simple. One you either accept your unhappiness and change nothing, or you change something and rediscover your joy and take on new challenges. Taking on new challenges could mean you look for a new job altogether with the same employer or a new one. But as many know, it can also mean having the same job title that you hold right now, but doing the job differently, more creatively, maybe with new responsibilities.

And this last option in a tight economy where you might be unwilling or scared to test the waters of job searching may be exactly what you need. The change in either option however has to start with you. (Well it doesn’t HAVE to start with you, it could be forced on you by your boss who isn’t happy with your performance, but let’s leave that one for another blog!) It is a fantastic time to listen to your mind and do a self inventory. By asking your colleagues, your boss, your subordinates, your peers and network of contacts, you should get an idea of how you are viewed by others. What do they value in you? What do you see as your own strengths and assets?

From that long list of skills and qualifications, what are those skills that you most want to use in the next couple of years? Nix a five-year plan…too long and too much could change. And think about what skills you have that are weak here too. Maybe you want to improve in certain areas.

Now armed with your skill inventory, think about where you get your buzz. What turns you on and gets you motivated to excel and fires your passion, your enthusiasm. Instead of looking for what you could do right now with ease, what would be challenging and just a bit difficult or require you to learn from someone else? This is the growth you might just be craving. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, but embrace that which is just a little out of your reach so when you achieve it and call it your own, you’ll feel great from reaching a new accomplishment.

Now it’s time to talk with your boss. Assuming you are performing your current job responsibilities to the satisfaction of the company, you’re looking to share your desire for new challenges, and want that person on board with your career development. It doesn’t mean you’ll be fired in the next two days just by having a conversation. My goodness if things are THAT bad, move on and stay mentally healthy!

This discussion with your boss shouldn’t be a one-time thing. Ask for 30 minutes or more and a few meetings. Your looking perhaps for their advice and counsel, and they’ll appreciate time to do some succession planning on their own if you move on via a promotion. You may find their flattered you’re seeking their mentorship. They may identify courses or training to acquire skills you’ll need to advance. You could also be given new assignments or co-author a new job description altogether.

As the ads say, “Stay thirsty my friends.”