05/01/2018 by Kori Burkholder
How to Resuscitate Your Dead End Job
You might be ready to jump ship right now from your "dead end" job, but if you’re unsure about what’s next you may have to suck it up while you’re figuring things out. Why not take advantage of the situation and make it work for you instead of against you?
As a career transition coach, I hear complaints about why people don’t enjoy their jobs. I encourage them that resuscitating their job can be a creative and fun process and to look around them. It’s fertile ground for growth opportunities.
Start by asking yourself, what new skills can I learn or challenges can I take on that will empower my next career move?
Is it to ask for a raise or promotion, improve my communication skills, ask for more responsibility, sharpen my negotiation skills, learn how to read contracts, blog, edit, etc.?
Here are 4 common dead-end job complaints I hear time and time again and how to resuscitate each.
1. Complaint – I don’t get along with my boss.
One of my clients who work in ad tech gets stressed out when her boss calls her to present a new product idea. Usually, it’s pretty complicated and hard to grasp at first. Then, he’d say, "Got it?" at the end of his scattered spiel.
Often, she didn’t get it on the first go and would relay back what she heard. He’d shoot back, "No! You don’t get it, do you?" which was a significant trigger for her. Finally, she would blow up at him and storm out of the office.
She grew tired of it and wanted to figure out a way to make their communication work better. So we thought about how to best approach the conversation and what would be her outcome.
We practiced until she was confident and then set up a time to meet with him. To her surprise, he was open to her feedback on how to best work with his communication and her learning style. He thanked her, and things progressively got better between them.
Action item: Get super clear about what you don’t like about your boss. Is it their leadership or communication style? What doesn’t work for you? How can you take the lead and make it better for you, the team, and the company? What’s your ultimate outcome?
2. I’m stressed out even before my alarm goes off.
One of my clients is a pharmacist and must be very precise in her job. If there’s a mistake, it could mean life or death. Over time, this has taken a toll on her and is a constant source of anxiety and stress.
I suggested starting a morning ritual routine and filling it with whatever makes her calm and happy. She chose to wake up an hour earlier each day and journal or play guitar and dance to one "happy song."
A few weeks into it, she stopped waking up feeling stressed because she looked forward to her morning ritual routine. She’s also reported being much calmer on her way to work and throughout her day.
Action item: What could you do in the morning to create more happiness and balance before leaving home? Is it writing, meditation, painting, or dancing? Mark it down in your calendar as "ME TIME" for at least 30 minutes a day and make this a non-negotiable.
3. I’m bored to death at work.
Boredom is an opportunity to become resourceful and creative! One of my clients is an artist who does photo retouching as a day job. She hates it because it’s redundant and says there’s no creativity. The feeling of boredom is a perfect time to look around for opportunities! I asked her:
- Can you look for assignments that align with your favorite work skills? No.
- Is there any room for growth? No, I don’t want to put more energy into this company.
- Is there a new skill you want to learn? Yes, there’s a new software that I should know about, and there’s training next week. I’ll ask. But that doesn’t make my boredom go away.
- Do you know all of your co-workers? No.
- Would you be willing to ask someone you don’t know very well out to lunch and get to know them? Yes.
She got the training, enhanced her skills, took a coworker out to lunch, and found out she’s an artist! They are now collaborating on a new project together outside of work.
Action Item: You can always do something to inject newness into your job. Keep looking out for things you want to learn or people you’d like to meet, expand your network, and start laying down the foundation for what’s next.
4. My job is meaningless.
When my client, who works in the music business, started with her company, it was her dream job. But, as time went on, the company kept changing direction, and suddenly she found herself working on a product she had zero interest in. But, she hung in there because she had grown attached to her high salary and the benefits. She could tolerate it but continued to be unsatisfied and dreaded work.
As soon as we uncovered her core values, we found a gaping hole! She had been disconnected from her values for years. We’d also discovered that she wasn’t aligned with the company's mission either. Now, she was crystal clear why her work had no meaning.
Action item: When you feel unhappy, check in with your values and the company's values. What’s its mission? What’s your mission? Find a cause you’re passionate about more immediately and start a fundraiser. Ask co-workers, bosses, and friends to donate. In the meantime, start looking around for other companies with shared values and missions.
Use your "dead end" job as your playground for growth and empowering your next career move, whether dealing with communication, learning a new skill, getting to know a co-worker better, or just plain figuring out what you want next in your career life.
What’s your biggest complaint about your "dead end" job, and how can you use it to your advantage?
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