Try These Tips to Avoid Career Unhappiness

2011 is already showing signs of promise and improvement on the job front. In the coming months many people will begin to make the job changes that they have wanted to make since 2007. As companies begin to hire new people, other changes will take place as well. The pace of change will quicken. It will be very important to make thoughtful career decisions for the short, as well as the long term. Be sure to take the time to review your career goals and desires as well as determine what will make you happy in your work place.

Also important is avoiding those roads that will lead to inevitable career unhappiness. This can be tricky…sometimes, they’re hard to spot. But I’ve found these five clear, unmistakable danger zones. Take a look below and make every effort to avoid these traps.

1. “…but I’m good at what I do.”
So, it’s not something you want to do, it’s something you can do. I get it, taking advantage of your skills, but sooner or later, it wears thin. I see this quite often with mid-career professionals. They’ve been chugging right along, doing what they do, and suddenly they realize they’ve been discontent for some time. Don’t dedicate your energy to something just because you have the ability and have enjoyed some level of success at it. You deserve to be at least somewhat selective. If you desperately want to do something that you’re not naturally good at, you always have the power to grow your skills.

2. “…but I need the income now.”
It sounds like such an obviously bad idea and yet, so many people fall for this one. Money isn’t enough to keep you happy for long. Yes, we all have financial needs that must be met. But, if that’s the sole reason you’re in your career, prepare for misery. There are—literally—MILLIONS of ways to make money. Find something that offers another kind of satisfaction as well. Compensation comes in many forms and your paycheck is just one.

3. “I’m sure it will improve with time.”
Staying the course and hoping things get better is a sure-fire way to waste time and increase your frustration. If you’re in a career that’s making you miserable, it’s probably safe to say that things can’t change enough to make it worthwhile staying. I guess it’s possible your awful boss will retire, you’ll be promoted and the company will be purchased by Google. In case that doesn’t happen, I am a believer in being proactive and controlling what you can control. If you can’t improve the situation and things don’t change significantly and quickly, start the process of moving on. Don’t stick with it just because you feel invested. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that things will just magically get better with time. This rarely happens.

4. “I’m just not sure.”
Fear and uncertainty are natural. If this is holding you back, you’re not alone. This is the number one reason people stay in careers they don’t enjoy. The unknown path is always scary. Be honest with yourself – if you never confront your fear, you’ll never know what could have been. You don’t want to look back on your life and have regrets or questions. A few calculated risks lead to a life well-lived. Maybe not always an easy or expected life, but one you can be proud of.

5. “Nothing else would be any better.”
This is the kind of thinking that takes over when you’re unhappy. You just give up. You have to be positive and remind yourself that there are ways to find happiness at work which might mean finding a new place to work. No one is cursed with the miserable career plague. It’s a temporary state IF you are willing to do the work to change the status quo. Don’t ever believe you’re stuck.

The kind of thinking described above is normal and tempting. We all fall into these thought patterns on occasion. The good news is that you can snap yourself right out of it. Begin by changing your thinking habits and surrounding yourself with positive people and messages.

Don’t worry, be happy.
David Lammert

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