What to do when you don’t like what you do anymore

Career Opportunities podcast logoWhat to do when you don’t like what you do anymore
By Douglas E. Welch

Listen: What to do when you don’t like what you do anymore


Get daily career tips on Twitter, Friendfeed and now, in video, on Seesmic.

It happens to all of us at one time or another. After years of working in the same area, the same job, the same company, we start to wonder if that’s all there is? Familiarity breeds contempt, the old saying goes and that is certainly true in work. Too much of the same, year after year, can leave you feeling less than fulfilled. Of course, the big question becomes…now what?

Like most topics I write about here, this one hits close to home. I have had to face this issue on many occasions over the years. It seems a necessary part of any career. If we don’t re-evaluate what we want out of a career on a regular basis, our life has a way of making us face the issue. It matters little if I am working in a corporate job or for myself, a bad day or week can quickly make you question your work and career choices. Just the other day I was wondering how many more times I can show Word users how to create a table, email users how to use BCC or remind people that they really need to backup their files. These are obviously necessary and billable tasks, but sometimes getting paid to do your work simply isn’t enough. You need to reach out for something new and, more importantly, more fulfilling.

It is this concept of fulfillment that really brings this issue into focus. Sometimes doing the most mundane things can feel very fulfilling. You have a sense of making the world a better place to live, one small step at a time. Then there are the days when everything you do seems worthless. No one cares and no one notices and you even start to doubt your own ability to effect the world around you. It’s Ok. It’s natural, but it never feels good. Typically this issue arises because other worries are getting in the way of your fulfillment. If you are having trouble making your mortgage payment, grading papers can seem the most worthless thing in the world, even if they are what is bringing in the money at the moment. It is almost as if you are saying to yourself, “if life is going be so tough, at least work could be a little less boring, difficult, tedious.” The fact is, though, it is all inter-related. One downward turn and your whole life can start to tumble after it.

So how do you bring fulfillment back into your life? There are a number of ways. First, be on the lookout for any opportunity to unload the most tedious and disliked aspects of your work. There are some tasks that are better done by entry level people or outsourced entirely. You aren’t just trying to shuffle your work onto someone else, though. As you grow in experience, you should be working on more important task for your company. You should be gaining productivity and having a larger impact. If not, it could be that you are holding on to too many mundane tasks that should have been unloaded years ago. Still preparing the monthly report, even though it could easily be handled by a staffer? Get rid of it and focus on something more important.

It is up to you to look for ways to make your work more fulfilling. No one else is going to take responsibility for your happiness. Each person is too worried about their own life to focus on you. It can take some time to hone your job to its most fulfilling parts, but is required if you are going to have a long and successful career. Otherwise, you risk becoming the disgruntled worker we seem to find in almost every office.

Of course, what if you have come to the point in your job or your career when you are simply tired of it entirely? What do you do if you feel there is no way to find fulfillment in your line of work? Well, you have to find something else. While that is easy to say, it is very difficult to accomplish in practice. I know, because I have been trying to leave the world of computer support for years, without much success. That said, it doesn’t mean I have stopped trying.

One great result of looking for a new line of work can be that you find new enjoyment in what you are doing. When you start seeking out alternatives, it can often help you to see your current work in a better light. Sure, I might like to do more speaking and new media work, but as I pursue that work I can cope with my current job more easily. I know that I will have to change my work eventually. After all, you can only crawl under desks for so many years, but I know that that work is there and available for me as I make my transition. I have never had to go “cold turkey”. That carries both advantages and disadvantages, as you probably aren’t as “hungry” as you might be if you quit your job entirely, but stability has its rewards. Just don’t let it slow down or stop your transition entirely.

So what do you do when you no longer like what you do? Well, you either find new fulfillment in your existing work or new work entirely. Neither is an easy task, but the alternatives — being disgruntled, bitter and even angry about your job — are not worth considering.

Join me on these networks:

Follow Douglas on FriendFeed | Follow Douglas on Twitter | Douglas on MySpace | Douglas on Facebook | Douglas on LinkedIn

Become a Facebook Fan of Career Opportunities

Support Career Opportunities:

One time:

Monthly ($2):

iTunes Review | Career-Op Forums | Digg.com | Podcast Alley | Reader/Listener Line @ 818-804-5049

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

This entry was posted in Audio, Podcast. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to What to do when you don’t like what you do anymore

  1. Pingback: Most popular Career Opportunities podcasts of 2008

Comments are closed.