Employed But Stuck


The earlier blog I penned had to do with feeling stuck. It focused primarily on both deciding between two or more options and the advice was to do something, do anything to get moving; and the focus was when you’re unemployed. I’ll stand by that.

But what about you who are already employed? I mean you’ve got a job and while it’s okay – possibly even good, you have become restless wanting a change. The question is really what could be next? A promotion? A change of employer? What other jobs within or beyond the company you’re with now would be possible and what’s stopping you from launching a concentrated job search campaign? In other words, even though you’re employed, are you feeling stuck in your career? Oh I know you’re not alone in this one!

The problem in a nutshell is you’re experiencing some motivation to change, but the level of motivation required to actually start looking beyond a casual glance at job postings hasn’t grown enough. You’ve got a steady income, some security at the moment, and the lure of something new is less than the status quo. Doing nothing is safe, comfortable, takes less effort and yet this small but growing feeling that a change is needed is there. So yes, at the moment…. you’re stuck.

Now this is different from when you’re out of work entirely and stuck deciding between two career options or stuck deciding what to do at all. It’s also different from having a job you enjoy in all aspects and just feeling a mild tug every so often. What makes this unique from those others is that the job you have now fulfills many of your basic needs, it’s got a good upside, but there’s this growing and persistent idea of something else wanted that the job doesn’t meet.

Only when your satisfaction with the present wanes enough that your wish for something more tips the balance will you actually find the motivation to explore change. The key is not to wait so long that the job you have becomes intolerable; that would be unfortunate, especially if you then find new employment takes considerably longer than you would have imagined.

The interesting thing is that sometimes other people recognize your need for change before you might. It’s true! You might have a change in behaviour; subtle at first, such as coming in on time instead of coming in 15 minutes early, or taking your full lunch hour away from work instead of donating some of your time to the job. Not big things, but signs of change if they become your new norm. You might also be quieter in office meetings, a little less vocal in promoting innovation and new ideas. What you may be doing is stretching and challenging yourself less and less because your investment in the job itself is ebbing.

Now on their own, like I say, these may not mean much. However collectively, they can indicate to others that something has changed in you. Suddenly people are asking you if you’re happy; is everything good? One person asking might be normal, but two or three people asking, or someone who knows you well, and you might realize those subtle changes they picked up on are cues you should address and think about.

The motivation to change then is worth addressing. What would motivate you to change? For some, the obvious answer is more money and benefits. However money is less of a motivator than you might think as the current job is already providing a consistent income. Feeling challenged, reinvigorated and mentally stimulated by the work you do might be more accurate. You might even be contemplating how to take many of your current skills and find a way to incorporate them into a self-employment option; especially if you see retirement on the horizon. Transitioning to a part-time enterprise, working on your terms and answering to yourself might be appealing as you wind down your full-time employment.

If you’re in your 30’s or 40’s, retirement might not be on your mind, but nonetheless, you could feel the urge to make a difference, give back in some way using your experience but challenging the conventional way of doing business that you’re in now, constrained by the parameters of the company who employs you.

Oh, and let’s not ignore the idea that you might just want an entire break from what you do now altogether and rediscover your passion through some other line of work. How many of you can agree that there’s a hobby or past interest you’d love to turn into your full-time job. Why aren’t you exploring that option? Don’t dismiss it quickly because you’re too old, it would cost too much to go back to school or you’ve got responsibilities! At least invest some time crunching some numbers and getting factual information to base your decision on.

In my previous blog, I advised you to do something; do anything. I’d suggest the same thing again if you feel stuck in your current job. Talk to people in Human Resources, take a night school class, update the résumé, put out some feelers. There is a lot you can do without going to the extreme of quitting or just giving up and feeling trapped in the present job for the next 14 years.

Yes, do something!

Staying When You’re No Longer In It


I can’t help but wonder how many readers of this piece are themselves stuck in a job they really don’t enjoy or worse, have come to truly hate; and hate my dear reader, is a very strong word. But that’s it isn’t it? I mean, knowing you don’t enjoy the work, the people who surround you, the company, the commute; and nonetheless hanging on and holding on, going in day after day, week after week, just living for the day when you retire. Oh what sweet release awaits you!

You might think this is an extreme comparison, but haven’t I rather described a prison sentence? Wow, that’s something to think on. Is it worse or only slightly better to realize that unlike my prison analogy, in this case you’re walking around with the means to your release in your possession. After all, you only need walk in and resign and you’re free.  At least in prison you get time off for good behaviour!

The reasons for staying may be well documented elsewhere, but for the record, it could be you’re feeling too old to be hired elsewhere, the vacation you’ve accumulated would be reset at two weeks if you moved; your benefits are just too good. Could be you’ve built up too much of a dependence on your current income to pay for a mortgage, cottage, vacations, kids education, your wardrobe etc.

Somewhat ironic that you might feel trapped in a job in part because of the benefits you’re receiving when you are no longer benefitting from the work you’re doing where you’re doing it day after day. What price are you paying with your mental health when you grudgingly drag yourself into your workplace 5 days a week and loathe both the trip there and clock gaze the entire day. This just has to be affecting your personality, your good-nature, your self-esteem and most importantly your self-worth.

Self-worth is ironic in and of itself. Look on the internet and you’ll find articles about how much some well-know figure is worth. That’s dollars and cents; a financial commodity. Were we to ask that same person, (presuming we could even get their attention to ask), how much value they put on the life they are leading, we might get a much lower evaluation.

Don’t you think it’s rather disappointing to know that you’ve only got this one life and you’re spending a great deal of your waking hours surrounded by a place and people you don’t really want to be with, doing work that you find no happiness in? Supposing it wasn’t you in this situation but rather your child or grandchild, wouldn’t you strongly suggest and hope that they’d chuck it in and find something that makes they truly happier? It would make you sad knowing the one you love and care for so much continues to do this.

It ultimately comes down to choice doesn’t it? Sure it does. It may not be what you want to hear, and you might stop reading right about here, but it is your conscious choice to stay where you are, just as it’s an option to walk away. Don’t say you’ve got no choice in this, that you have to stay, for that’s not true. What is true is that the reason you’ve stayed and not quit already is because it’s going to need some courage and a struggle of a different kind to actually walk away.

Quitting is going to mean job searching, curtailing your expenses until you find another source of income. It might mean you’ll get less time off each year for some time. Can you picture how the six weeks off a year vs. the two weeks off a year in a new job, might not be that big of a deal if you enjoy going to work 50 weeks a year instead of loathing the 46 weeks a year as you do now?

I mean if you’re popping painkillers or self-medicating just to get through your days, are you factoring these things into your decision-making when you look at how you’re doing? How much you make a year isn’t the only bottom line here; how much you’re paying each year to make that money is far more significant.

Come on, this isn’t the life you dreamed; this isn’t how they drew it up for you back in high school or the family home. And by chance if someone did envision this life for you, it is still within YOUR power and control to pack it in. The hardest part is just deciding you’re going. Then there is a release; freedom. You’ll likely get some package of sorts, and if you don’t, it’s still more valuable to know you’re rekindling your self-esteem than sacrificing it to stay.

If you do walk away from this kind of situation, give yourself time – perhaps a month – to decompress. This is a big change after all, and transitioning from that job to the rest of your life is a stage to refocus and indulge in some healing time.

Sorry if you decide to stay; really I am. I understand your decision though; even if I’d recommend leaving. I do hope you make it to retirement in relative good health – physically and mentally. For many though, the view of retirement and time to do what they want is actually dictated by the health with which they arrive at it.