Put your hand in the air if you feel trapped in your job. Wow. That’s a lot of hands. And you’ve been doing that job how long? Really? You don’t say.
Well I have some good news for you. There’s life after that job. Heck, there are entire careers out there just waiting for you. Careers where you can once again be excited and fulfilled. The biggest obstacle is you taking the plunge and putting in the effort.
You folks know I don’t mince words. I’ve told you plenty of times to quit your job (like I did in this post where I also told you to stop complaining). If you look at your career and see a big “Dead End” sign and/or you hate driving to the office every day, perhaps it’s time you give a second career a second thought.
I know. It’s daunting. And I’m speaking from experience. I’ve changed roles/careers many times (left the Army, McKinsey, Capital One, and Scotts Miracle-Gro). All departures are hard. They’re scary and confusing. But there is life on the other side.
The most important questions to answer are:
– Should I stay or should I go?
– If yes, where and how?
Let’s figure these out, shall we?
Should you stay or should you go?
Stealing shamelessly from a prior post (mostly because it was awesome guidance when it was first given to me and it’s still awesome today), here’s a way to answer the Clash’s question:
– If you wake up one day and dread going to work, you have a bad meeting coming up.
– If you wake up for a week and dread it every day of that week, you’re on a dog of a project.
– If you wake up for a month and dread it every day of that month, you need to polish your resume.
– If you wake up for two months and dread it for those 60 consecutive days, what the hell are you thinking?!
For the purpose of this post, you also need to take a longer look at your potential growth curve. If it looks like the world before Columbus sailed the ocean blue, you need to consider departing.
We all want to grow. If the opportunities to do so aren’t present at your current gig and you think that situation won’t change anytime soon, you might want to consider bailing to find the next next.
Where to find the next next and how to get there
This is the easiest and hardest question of all. The easy way to handle it is:
What do you love to do? Okay. Go do that.
The hard part is finding “that” and in a manner that enables you to pay your mortgage.
My cousin loves to cook and brew his own beer. He’s (apparently) awesome at it (Matt – you owe me dinner and beer). We spoke a few months ago and he was wondering what to do with his life and where to take his career. I of course kicked him in the pants to go do what he loves.
Now he cooks at a Mexican restaurant (no, it’s not Taco Bell which would be sweet because then I’d get free extra baja sauce on my grilled stuft beef burrito). The thing is, while he’s there he’s learning how to open and run a restaurant. The location he’s at is brand new and the owner is a great mentor/coach. Matt is learning a ton and enjoying cooking while he’s at it. He understands there’s a financial trade-off for chasing his dream. He’s willing to do it and is paying his dues.
As you think about your next next, begin with a list of things you love to do. Interview and network with people. Ask them what they do for a living. Don’t get locked into stereotypes as you think about new opportunities. Really listen to them. When someone starts talking about a bunch of things on your list, you might have found your new home.
If you can’t find that place that enables you to do the things you love, perhaps you should start it yourself. It’s called entrepreneurship. And almost every entrepreneur I know shares one common trait: passion. We do what we love. We bend the world to our will to enable us to continue pursuing our passions. Yes, there’s risk involved but if you make it work, you’ll never work another day in your life because it’s not work when you love what you do.
As far as how to set off down the entrepreneurial path, you can do so with little risk. Seriously. Read this post to find out how.
I know I’m being flip about a weighty topic. The thing is, at some point you have to take action or succumb to inaction. My great-grandfather loved to say “you’re gonna be a long time dead.” That’s about the best motivation I can think of to go out and do what you love instead of being trapped in a job you hate.