Today I had someone tell me that one of the biggest challenges in their life was a complete lack of interest in their job. He’s definitely not alone. People working in jobs they don’t like is epidemic and I’ve had at least five people in the last two weeks express similar concerns. So this week, I write for all of you who feel discontentment in their work, because I’ve been there and experienced what it’s like to be doing a job I’m not passionate about.
Most people who meet me notice how passionate I am about my work and tend to assume it’s what I’ve always done. They never fail to look surprised to find out that I previously worked in a finance career after studying accounting. It was a good job, I liked it. Did I love it? Did I want to do it forever? No.
It felt like a huge risk when I decided to go back to study in order to change careers. It IS a risk when you go back to study after being in the workforce for some time. By that I mean that any fears you’ve got relating to career changes could come true. It’s possible.
The relationship to the risk will vary for different people. For me it was the fear that if I studied psychology, I might not be passionate about it anymore. Psychology had always been fascinating to me and it was what I used to read about in my spare time. So what if I go back to University and I have to do assignments with due dates and I have to sit exams and it will be hard work? What if being at Uni will take the material that I love and turn it into a chore? What if the thing that I am so passionate about becomes tainted with the strain of hard work? What would be left? These were the kinds of thoughts going through my head as the fear played out.
For some people, it’s the fear of not being good enough. For others, it’s the fear of having a lot less money while studying. For others, it is the fear of not being able to cope with all the work. Or the fear of being too old to make a change. Or [fill in your favourite fear here].
Eventually I decided there was only one way to find out if my fears were true. So I enrolled to study. My happy ending was that I am more passionate about psychology than I’ve ever been and it led me to coaching and now I enjoy a career that I love. So it turned out all of the fears I had were unjustified.
That said, the last thing I intend to do here is say ‘just go for it and everything will work out happily ever after’. If you take the plunge and get that result, awesome! For me, going back to study was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Torture is a word that comes to mind. My discipline was tested. At times I questioned whether it was worth it. At times I cried; the day I got 49% for one of my subjects and had to repeat it comes to mind. I also cried the day I got a certificate in the mail for getting the highest mark for one of my other subjects. They were tears of the happy kind as I realised that something like that is actually possible for me.
Even when the degree was complete, I didn’t automatically walk into my dream career. My learning about how to run a business had only just begun. A whole other challenge.
Changing careers of course doesn’t necessarily mean going back to study. But if you’re holding off on following a calling, then there is definitely some challenge that you know you will need to face. Perhaps you’re thinking about the hard work… It is going to be work and being aware of that is probably not a bad thing. I read an article earlier this week about Gen Y struggling with careers because they’ve been brought up on the passive notion of ‘follow your passion’ rather than ‘decide on your passion and then work hard to make it a reality’.
Yes, there will be work involved. Maybe a lot of work. It might be painful sometimes. The irony in that is if you’re one of those people in a job they dislike, then you’re already in pain anyway. Only there’s no growth in that pain. Better to be in the kind of pain that comes from outgrowing your current shell.
At this point a quote I once heard comes to mind. It said “Don’t aim to make a million dollars for the money. Do it for the person that you need to become to make the money.”
I ended up with a career that I love more than I thought possible. But the person I needed to become to get there was the real reward. You can lose money. You can lose a job title. But who you have become, that’s yours to keep for as long as you like.
You may take a risk and not end up with a career that you love. It’s possible. But the lessons you get from stepping outside of your comfort zone and giving it your best, you get to keep those. You get to develop some serious musculature about your life and get one big step closer to knowing where you want to be. As per a previous article, ‘Living with ‘I might’ will cost you’.
One of the same people expressing their lack of interest in their job has also expressed “I’m not a risk taker”. I wonder what is the real risk. I wonder if getting to the end of your life with the regret of playing it safe is a much greater risk.
Courage is a verb. You don’t become courageous by reading a book about it. You actually have to make a move. It doesn’t matter how small. It doesn’t matter how long it will take. If creating your passion takes two, or five, or ten years, then it will take two, or five, or ten years from the day you start.