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Welcome to Hump Day–only 2 more work days until the weekend. Wouldn’t it be nice if you weren’t constantly on a countdown to the weekend? If you weren’t living only for the time you aren’t working. For the past few Wednesday, I have been debunking some of the myths people hold as to why it is ok that they stay in a job that doesn’t make their heart sing. So far we have covered two of the biggies: Money and what if I am wrong. Today we are going to look at:
Reason number 3: I can’t give up my job title/status.
Frequently I will have clients who come into my office who have a high paying, professional job and they have worked their way up over the years, only to find they aren’t that happy. Here they are at 35+ and realizing they don’t really like their job, they don’t like what they are doing, they don’t like the company’s mission, basically they are generally unhappy. Many of them even know what it is they want to do next, but they have convinced themselves they can’t leave because then their whole professional life would be a waste. They would be giving up their title and status. All the markers they have for success would need to change.
Many years ago, I had a client who for years worked in the retail industry, she worked her way up and was a buyer for a large retail organization. In reality she hated it, she hated the hours, hated the company, hated the job. But it is what she had done her whole adult life, worked her way up in the retail industry. Plus, she looked like a success. She had a high paying job, with a great title, she had the respect of her peers and even the people who didn’t know what a buyer did knew it was impressive. Essentially she kept telling herself I SHOULD be happy.
However, what she really wanted to do was open up a bed and breakfast. For years, she had dreamed about owning her own place. She loved to cook and more so loved to take care of people. She had piles and books of ideas of what she could do with her own bed and breakfast. For weeks she would come into my office debating between finding a new retail job or start working towards her dream of a bed and breakfast. Every week she would come into my office and describe in detail what her B&B would look like and inevitably the following week she would start the session by describing a job she thought she should apply for in retail. Basically she was afraid that if she left her job in retail world, her whole working life would be a waste. She would have nothing to show for the past 15+ years she had been working. Plus she would have to find a new way to define success. In the past, success was her title, her car, her company’s name. Now she would be starting over and that was very scary.
Finally I asked her to write down everything she learned good and bad from her retail career. She had a list 3 pages long of ideas, growth experiences, mistakes she had learned from etc. I told her, know one can take this away from you, just because you don’t continue to work in retail doesn’t mean you are going to lose all this knowledge and throw away all your work. We also did a lot of work on the definition of success. I had her write down and research the lives of people she admired and thought were successful. Most of those people, had gone out on their own, lived lives of adventure, followed their heart. They weren’t working for a large corporation making their way up. Turns out the nice job title, fancy car and corporate name were marks of success for her father not her. Gradually she started to believe in her dream and began making baby steps towards making it a reality. I am proud to report that she did leave her corporate job and now is living her dream.
The point is there is nothing wrong with climbing the corporate ladder, if that is what makes your heart sing. The danger comes when you are working a job, climbing the ladder because you THINK you SHOULD or you are afraid to lose your status. Your career is meant to be something you love and enjoy, something that feeds your soul and makes you happy. The only way to Work Happier and Live Happier is to debunk the myth, you can give up the status if it isn’t really making you happy.
What reasons do you give yourself (or have given yourself in the past) for staying in a less then ideal job? How have you gotten unstuck? What do you struggle with when it comes to discovering what makes your heart sing?