My job drains me, but I’m afraid to quit. I don’t know whether I would find anything better. I don’t even know what I’d enjoy doing. I can’t afford to quit. I can’t afford to go back to school and start all over again doing something new. Yet, I get sick to my stomach on Sunday nights thinking about work on Monday. I can’t do this for twenty more years. What should I do? – Trapped
You are not alone. Studies have shown that more than half of all employees are not completely engaged and happy at work. It’s sad that so many feel trapped and don’t see a way out, but it’s also true that it takes focus and energy to make a change, and some people would rather tolerate a draining environment than risk losing what they have for something worse. While I can’t tell you what to do, I can provide some tips based on my work with career changers over the years:
1. Career Transition can take six months to three years or more.
If you are working in a draining environment, you may be tempted to quit so you have time and energy to move forward. But unfortunately that extra time will be replaced with panic if you don’t have a source of income to keep you comfortably afloat for at least a year. When I work with people who are panicking about running out of money, it is difficult for them to be confident during interviews, and they tend to take the first opportunity that provides income, whether it’s a good fit or not. Which may put you in a worse position than you were in before.
2. Your level of fear or confidence will determine how fast you succeed.
If you are embarrassed to make phone calls and ask questions of strangers, uncomfortable talking about yourself, and really scared of whether or not anyone will want you, then your transition will take longer. If you are somewhat excited, up for the adventure, and willing to learn a lot, get out of your comfort zone and open your mind to new perspectives, then your transition can happen quicker.
3. No matter who you are, it is possible to design your life around work you enjoy.
Making a change in your life requires the willingness to carve out time each week to take action, and most of the action involves networking – talking to other professionals, sometimes even selling yourself. It also requires taking an honest look at yourself and coming to terms with the personal issues that might hold you back professionally. But if you are willing to put in the time and energy, you will get results.
4. You don’t have to go back to school or start at entry level in order to change industries.
This is a common misperception that holds people back from trying to make a transition to something they would really love to do. It’s actually quite scary how many assumptions people make about what they can’t do just by hearing one “failure story.” If you have a belief, no matter what it is, all you will see in the world is evidence that supports your belief. You have to be open to the possibility of your success in order to succeed, and that means you have to be open to looking for examples of people who have succeeded at what you are trying to do, and learn from them.
5. A support system will make all the difference in the world.
When I first started thinking about leaving my corporate job to start my own company I was petrified. But I found a group of friends who also had dreams they were scared of acting on, and we agreed to get together once a month at someone’s house to talk about our dreams and support each other. We didn’t do anything fancy – we just talked about what we wanted to do, and we shared our progress with each other along with ideas and resources. The positive energy in that group gave me what I needed to make the leap. If I didn’t have the other group members to talk to, I might never be where I am today. (if you need a group and don’t want to put one together yourself, feel free to contact me and I can tell you what we are doing these days in the way of Aspyrre support groups)
Bottom line, it’s DEFINITELY possible to build your life around work you love. It does take time, work, and personal growth. I remember before making my change I felt like I just needed someone to guide me. What we have here at Aspyrre is a step by step process, lots of guidance, and lots of support, so you can get all of that you need. The part that comes from you is crossing that threshold of wanting the change more than you fear taking action. Luckily, you don’t have to do anything drastic. You can take a few small actions first, and see how they feel.
Best of luck to you, and feel free to write again anytime – I’d love to hear about your progress!