Sick of your job? Longing to change your career?
Why now is the time to get to work.
As I write this article, it’s still August. The green leaves out my window are swaying in the breeze. Later this afternoon I will go to the pool with my kid and splash around enthusiastically in my dorky goggles, pretending to be a giant squid. Then I will make dinner and eat on the patio with my Adventure Husband, next to the increasingly scary jungle of ripening tomatoes that we planted too close together this year. I will likely go to bed while it’s still a little light out, because that is how cool I am. It’s summertime.
But fall is speeding towards us my friend. It’s right around the corner.
Summer indulges us — we get a pass on things like “maximum productivity” and “100% focus” and “pointy shoes” and “personal achievement.” We ditch our career-goals for a little while it in favor of pools and patios. But as the fresh air of September touches the leaves with cool, golden fingertips, things start to get serious again. Its time for new beginnings, clean slates, and grand plans. Harnessing the natural motivation built into this season can lead to excitement and motivation, and life-changing energy…. or make you feel helpless and confused if you’re stuck in a job you don’t like, but don’t know how to change your career.
Linking Your Career Success to Your Values
Many years ago, the end of summer was a hard time for me. I was not in a career that was meaningful to me. The achievement-oriented back-to-school isles with their crisp, virgin notebooks and rows of un-chewed pencils seemed to look at me, disapprovingly, as I slouched past, prepared to waste another year of my life in a career that I did not love.
The coming of fall made me feel tired, and a little depressed. I felt guilty that I wasn’t doing more with my life.
But one fateful and tragic fall — nearly fifteen years ago now — something different happened. I woke up one early one bright blue September morning because the Adventure Husband had turned on the TV. Loud. As I walked into the living room prepared to tell him how annoying and inconsiderate he was being (this was before we went to marriage counseling together) I saw on the screen an airplane plowing into a glassy building, high above New York City.
I didn’t know it at the time, but found out shortly thereafter that I’d just watched my cousin Jimmy get killed. He would have been sitting at his desk on the 104th floor of the World Trade building, probably booting up his computer and sipping coffee, minding his own business…. right up until the moment that a plane piloted by maniacs crashed through his window.
That day changed me in many ways. But in the midst of my shock and grief and trauma and fear one message stood out to me clearly: “Your time here is short and could end at any moment. Stop screwing around and do something more important with your life.”
The most important, and meaningful thing I could imagine doing was being of service, somehow, to other people. Connecting with that inner, core value was the spark that sent me to graduate school to become a counselor. That drive motivated me through many years of getting a Master’s Degree and then a PhD as I evolved into “Dr. Lisa.” It is still the reason I sit here now, on this August day, writing this love letter to you.
I don’t want you to have to do through tragedy or trauma to get connected with your inner values — the lighthouse, the compass that will carry you forward towards your ultimate destiny. But I DO want you to feel satisfied with your life, and your career. You deserve to be happy. Your life is too short, and too precious, to waste one more day in a career that is meaningless, frustrating, joyless, or boring.
Working people spend more time at their jobs than doing any other single thing. Your job gets more of your time and attention than your marriage, your kids, your friends and your personal interests. Wouldn’t it be amazing if your passion, your meaning, and your reason for being was linked — somehow — to your career?
When you are in a career that suits your personality, showcases your natural talents, ties into your interests and your passions, and creates meaning and value for you, you stop having “a job.” Your career is woven seamlessly into the fabric of a happy, and satisfying life.
Dissatisfaction = Motivation
If the drums of autumn approaching are making you feel tired, guilty, or simply aware that you should be doing something else, I’d like to invite you to view this as a good thing. Feeling dissatisfied is the engine of change. This is an opportunity to harness your motivation (motivation is the secret gift of your dissatisfaction) and do something productive with it. Like using it as energy to create a new reality.
You can look around months from now, or years from now, and either be sitting in the same exact place — or the brand new reality that you designed. I know, because I’ve lived it.
As the seasons shift, you can too. Channel your dissatisfaction into life changing motivation. Seize the power of this transitional period, and let it inspire you to shed your old leaves and plan a new season in your life, too.