It’s an amazing statistic: most of us spend at least 50% of our waking hours at work. We get up each morning and go through the same routine, with each day largely the same as the one before, feeling like we’re the star character in our own version of the film Groundhog Day.
The last time most of us had any career advice was either at school or university. Discussions were invariably centred on vocational-type qualifications and which organisations provided the best graduate training. And so, we set out on a career path with a clear starting point, a vague mid phase and, beyond that, usually the complete unknown. Promotions follow, head-hunters call, offers are accepted, and life goes on, often without a plan.
How many of us can honestly say we feel fulfilled at work? In 2007, a Norwich Union survey found 66% of people in their 30s and 40s described themselves as, ‘unfulfilled, drifting or miserable’ in their jobs. The survey cited a new career trend being labelled ‘Zenployment’ where almost half - 47% - said they were aiming to be in a career that offers fulfilment.
Lisa was one of my clients who decided it was time to take control. She was successful but was no longer happy or motivated by her work. She had an idea but was concerned it was just a pipe dream and wasn’t realistic. Through our work together, we clarified what she was truly motivated by, figured out that a change of direction was feasible and discussed how she could make the transition. The choice came down to this: was she going to continue doing what she’d already been doing for the rest of her working life, or do what she really wanted?
I challenged Lisa to make this decision from a position of free choice. She should choose to stay at her job because she wanted to, not because of a fear of the unknown. Five years ago, Lisa quit her job, relocated to New Zealand and established her own business. She hasn’t looked back and is living her dream.
If your work no longer fulfils or interests you, it could be time to move on before your morale takes a nose-dive. If you feel you’ve lost your sense of direction, why not, like Lisa, make a decision? Ten, 20 or 40 years of your life at work is too long to spend in the wrong job.
Jennifer Baker is a professionally trained executive coach with a strategic business background