For People Who Are Afraid To Leave Their Jobs
(Although They Are Miserable)
The alarm rang at 6:00 am on Monday
morning, and Tom Martin hit the snooze button. The knot in
his stomach tightened as he envisioned heading to the office
for yet another day in corporate agony. He sighed, swung his
legs over the edge of the bed and willed himself to get
Sound familiar? Many American workers
stay in jobs they hate. According to a recent national
survey by The Conference Board, only 51% of workers are
satisfied with their jobs.
To overcome fears of a career change,
first define what keeps you from a switch. Is
Fear of a pay
Fear of the time needed to
re-school or recertify or start at entry
Potential embarrassment about
your career dreams or what others will say?
Lack of information about how
to make the switch?
Feeling you have too much
invested in your current career choice?
Fear of failure?
The first key to a career change is
"choice". You are never trapped in a job; you choose to stay
in it. You can leave, even though there may be consequences.
The second key is timing. Imagine
trying to eat an elephant in one sitting. Sounds daunting!
However, isn't it a more manageable task if you took many
little bites over a month? Making a major career shift all
at once also seems impossible. However, as smaller, more
discrete tasks you can make progress toward a new job that
makes you happy. Look to the long term future: setting a
goal to be in a new field in 3 to 5 years is not
BABY STEPS TOWARD A CAREER
Set a reasonable time
frame. It may take as long as a year to decide on
a career direction. Calibrating expectations will ensure you
don't get frustrated and give up too easily. Allocate time to
write out your ideal job characteristics, and then to find jobs
that match. Next, find people doing those jobs, and ask them
for advice and perspective on the job. Lastly, you need to make
a plan for any retraining or experience needed for the
Evaluate your finances.
Calculate the minimum living
expenses you need. Investigate loans, refinancing, and other
sources of money. Examine school scholarships and whether your
company offers tuition reimbursement. Even though it is tough,
evaluate what lifestyle choices you are willing to sacrifice in
the short term for your long-term happiness.
Create a detailed written description of
your ideal job. You can't make a career change without a
clear and detailed picture. Forget about job titles in the
beginning. Focus on the tasks, environment and output. Include
Physical environment: office
type, setup, dress code, work hours, office atmosphere, and
Describe the kinds of people
you work with: peers, subordinates, bosses, clients. Describe
how you help these people, and how they support
Team or individual work: state
your preference for working alone, or always with others? If
both, under what circumstances you prefer each. Decide when you
are happiest and most productive.
What is your work output, or
what do you "DO"? Do you make something, provide a service,
work with data, or share information?
Share your list with others and ask them
what jobs and careers might fit with your
be shy; people love to give advice! Develop a list of potential
careers and jobs you need to learn more about. Don't
prematurely reject jobs because of a perceived barrier. Find
out the truth first.
Find ways to safely explore whether this
new career might be right for you. Once you have defined the job you think
you want, research information about what it might take to get
into the field. Think about ways to make sure this is the
correct choice. Examine alternatives carefully. Ask the
might you need that you can get on your current job? Are there
additional responsibilities or projects you can volunteer for
that will boost your skills in a needed area?
you need retraining or additional
you need a new degree? Can you take night or distance classes?
Does your current company offer tuition
professional associations you can join to network and learn
about the field?
industry conferences you can attend? Many are on
Can you use
the network of people you know to find someone who is doing the
job you want to do? Arrange a conversation where they can tell
you about it and give some advice.
resources are available to research the field, find companies
that might hire you, and meet others who work in the field? Are
there chat rooms, message boards, or E-lists to meet
What books can
you read to help make decisions about life
opportunities are available to grow your skill base in the
areas you need?
second jobs you can take to gain experience or test out your
interest in a job?
If you are miserable in your current job, remember
that taking slow and steady baby steps in a new direction
can be very empowering. It's your