Feeling frustrated or bored at work? Wondering if there’s something else you could be doing that would make you happier? You’re not alone. According to a recent survey from Gallup, 13% of U.S. workers are actively disengaged, or extremely unhappy at work.
Even though you hate your job, that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to find something new. There are a variety of reasons why unhappy employees stay put, including benefits, financial status, relationships with coworkers, and an overall feeling of “embeddedness,” according to a Rutgers University study.
You might be feeling stuck, but that doesn’t mean you are. No matter where you are in your career, don’t give up on the possibility that you could find a rewarding career you love.
Here’s what to do if you’re looking for a change:
1. Reflect on why you are struggling
In order to improve your situation at work, figure out why you are feeling disengaged. Make a list of the things that you do and do not like about your current role. Do you like the work that you do? Are you in the right field? Would you like to be challenged more, and/or do you wish you were making more money?
Finally, ask yourself if this a new feeling, or if you have been feeling this way for a while. If you’ve been frustrated for several months or a year, you could be experiencing burnout, and it might be time to make a change.
If it’s a relatively recent feeling and you like your company, give it some time and see if you feel differently in a few months. If nothing changes, you might want to consider making a lateral move to a different part of the company or working toward a promotion that would allow you to expand your possibilities. Identifying the reasons behind your negative feelings at work will help you determine your next steps.
2. Visualize what you want from your career
If you’ve decided to make a change, think carefully about what that change should be. Are you going to switch fields entirely, or are you interested in pursuing a related role with more responsibility?
To narrow down your options, think about what you like to do, and what you enjoy about your current role. Reflect on your dreams and your goals, and how you might be able to fulfill those interests in a career. Also, consider what your ideal work scenario would be. Do you want to work from home? Do you want a more flexible schedule? All of these questions are important if you want to find a career you’re passionate about.
3. Research opportunities in your desired field
Once you’ve narrowed down your career goals, you can start researching jobs that align with those interests. The U.S. Department of Labor is a reliable resource for learning about new career paths, including educational requirements, projected employment growth and salary information – important factors that will play a role in your final decision.
Your network can also be an asset in your career search. If you have friends, family, or professional connections in your desired field, talk with them about their own career trajectory, how they got where they are today, and what skills were essential to their success. Hearing first-hand about what it’s like to work in a particular field can help you determine whether that career path would be a good fit for you.
4. Consider your options
Next, think about what steps you need to take to achieve your goals. For example, earning or advancing your degree can help you learn new, relevant skills that will prepare you for a career in a new field.
You can also look for educational opportunities that will make you more valuable within your current organization. Do you need to attain your bachelor’s degree to get a promotion? Would an MBA help drive your aspiration for a higher leadership position? How about a post-graduate certificate or a certification? Each of these options will provide you with the leadership and management skills needed for career advancement.
5. Find a program that meets your needs
It’s important to find an educational institution that will empower you to achieve your goals, but at your own pace and in a way that works for you. For example, if you’re planning to work and attend school part-time, consider schools that offer flexible learning options designed to accommodate working students, such as online programs and night courses.
Additionally, look for a college or university that understands the value of your prior experience, skills and knowledge, and offers multiple entry points to degree advancement depending on your academic and professional experience. These institutions will work to maximize the transferability of your prior credits and work experience.
Navigating the next step in your career is challenging. Taking the time to consider your goals, research your options, and find an educational program that meets your needs can help you get on the path to long-term career success.