Are you feeling lost, dissatisfied, or even bored in your career? Do you keep searching and wondering about how to find your dream career? You’re not alone.
In 2018, Forbes reported that 53% of Americans are currently unhappy at work. Worldwide, it’s even worse; A Gallop study conducted and still ongoing since 2000 shows that a staggering 85% of workers worldwide admit to hating their jobs when polled anonymously.
Our work isn’t everything, but it sure consumes the majority of our lives. It’s heartbreaking to see those who go through every day working jobs that make them miserable; but we all have our reasons.
It’s also immature to believe that anyone can make an immediate career change, whether that be for lack of opportunity in their area or health issues. But too many individuals believe they are stuck when that couldn’t be farther from the truth. When asked about their “dream job”, people tend to think way too narrowly. To quote the infamous Hunter S. Thompson:
“We do not strive to be firemen, we do not strive to be bankers, nor policemen, nor doctors. We strive to be ourselves. I don’t mean that we can’t be firemen, bankers, or doctors, but that we must make the goal conform to the individual, rather than make the individual conform to the goal. A man must choose a path which will let his abilities function at maximum efficiency toward the gratification of his desires.”
Simply put, there are hundreds of different careers that will be a much better fit for you if you are currently dissatisfied. Beware of tunnel vision, and thinking that you need to be in an exact industry and position to find happiness. In fact, there is a helpful list of criteria that you can use when researching all the new paths to take.
We’re always nervous to quote Japanese concepts that we Americans often turn into buzzwords, but the concept of “Ikigai” stands for “a reason for being”. We took this concept and redesigned a graphic that will help you understand exactly how to find your Ikigai. Make sure to save this image and share it on social media to help others too.
If you’re lucky, you might have a career that fits in three or even all four of these circles. It sounds like most of the population is stuck in just one or two. Let’s quickly break these concepts down so you can start thinking about where you want to go, long-term.
WHAT YOU CAN GET PAID FOR
At an absolute minimum, we need to choose something that pays the bills. There are those who get paid to hike mountains and those who get paid to dog whisper, so nothing is off the table. But taking a more well-travelled route before you are financially secure might be a smarter way to go.
Assistants, plumbers, programmers, sales people, and those in the food or healthcare industry will never be out of work. Don’t let those options put a sour taste in your mouth just yet. The industry, location, and team you choose can make a drastic difference in all of those careers.
WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS
Speaking of plumbers, what the world needs is probably the second most important requirement. Dog whisperers might be able to make a living, but this artisanal pencil sharpener probably doesn’t need competition.
WHAT YOU’RE GOOD AT
Those who feel like they are both competent and challenged at their job are the most satisfied. Working long-term at a place that provides you no variety or room for growth can feel like a trap.
Here’s something we hear a lot: “I don’t know what I’m good at.” The answer is simple, but not easy. Try new things. Focus on what you would like to be good at doing, and learn. Reach out to mentors, and practice at home. The lifetime of contentment and confidence in your work will be worth it.
WHAT YOU LOVE TO DO
Some of us thought we knew what we wanted to be when we grew up. If we pursued that dream, many times reality didn’t stack up to the visions of success we had. When that happens, it can be very discouraging.
The good news is, by the time you realize you’re not in the right career, you’ve had some good experience that might have revealed what has made you happy in the past.
This is what Hunter S. Thompson meant with his quote. Firemen and doctors don’t necessarily love fire or surgery: they love saving lives.
Bankers might not love the actual transfer of money from one place to another, but they probably enjoy watching families move into their new home with a helpful mortgage.
You’re going to have to put up with the mundane and the difficult work if you want the reward of loving what you do.
FINDING YOUR SWEET SPOT
We love how these circles intersect to give us common phrases we hear when it comes to our careers: our passion, mission, profession, or vocation. But those who truly put in the work can slowly combine all of these things to reach the sweet spot: Ikigai.
So, action steps. If you’re one of the 53 – 85% of individuals currently unhappy with their work, which takes up a huge portion of your life, you should:
+ Make a list of all the things you love and hate about your current position, just like a pros and cons list.
+ Brainstorm if you can make small changes to where you are in your company or the day-to-day tasks you do that will bring you more fulfillment.
+ Take some serious time thinking about how you want to be remembered. What is the broad impact you want to make on the world, like helping people smile or feeding the hungry?
+ Try your best to make an accurate assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. Many supervisors, family members, and friends would be happy to provide you with feedback.
+ Write down what industries, careers, or even specific companies are all working towards the same mission you care about. Then, circle those who might have positions in which you can use your strengths and even work on your weaknesses.
+ Double check that those careers match up to the income needs you have and the long-term life goals you want to achieve.
+ Make the call, practice the skill, and take the leap. Do not leave your current situation before you have a solid next step in place.
Below, you’ll find our 5-1-30 worksheet. Not only will this help you plan the upcoming week, but it will give you the opportunity to look into your future and design the career or lifestyle you’ve always wanted. Download that for free.
We want to know: are you currently satisfied with your work? What is your mission that can get you excited to make a difference? Do you already have a new career in mind that would help you reach your Ikigai?
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