So you have a job that you don’t like or don’t find fulfilling.
Welcome to the club!
But after a series of jobs that occasionally had me question my worth, value, and purpose, I can look back and say with confidence that each one had merit. Each one led to something better. And yours will too, if you keep a positive attitude.
It’s kind of like a pyramid, with the first not-so-great job at the top. It’s a small space up there and you might feel confined, or not appreciated, or not challenged. If you operate from a position of hope and learn all you can, it can lead to another job that’s a little better—one that gives you more room to grow. When that one gets stale, if you have worked hard and played fair and treated others right, it leads to a job that’s even better.
You’re now working your way down the pyramid, and with each move you’ve gained extra room to challenge yourself, new skills, and moved closer toward your goals.
The first 15 years of my career were near perfect. I worked as a newspaper reporter at a major paper just out of college. I lucked out and pretty much started my career at the bottom of the pyramid.
Then I moved across the country and became a full-time, homeschooling mom. Six years into that I was widowed. A couple of years later, I was forced financially to find full-time work. This time I started at the top of the pyramid.
My first job was a gift from a very successful businesswoman in our town. I had absolutely no skills for it apart from writing, so it was an opportunity to learn an entire new field. It was a great job, but there was little mentoring or encouragement, and I needed extra doses of those in my still-fragile state of being.
I worked hard and learned a ton, and a year and a half later a friend and his brother recruited me for a new position that was even better…and a lot more fun.
That cool job lasted a year and a half, ending sadly and suddenly the week of Thanksgiving 2008, being swept into oblivion by the recession.
Two weeks later, an acquaintance connected me to a job that I had absolutely no history or experience with, but because of my two previous positions, I had the confidence to bluff my way through the interview and be the winning candidate. It paid great, but it was far from home at a time my daughter was preparing to transition out of town to finish college. Plus, I liked the people I worked with a lot but didn’t like the job itself, not even the tiniest bit.
That led me to having the courage to say to an acquaintance and business owner at church one day, “What are you doing about your marketing?” He hired me at a time when my heart needed kind people to work with and other perks that fit my lifestyle of suddenly living alone and traveling across the state as much as possible to spend time with my daughter as she finished college.
Plus, because of that job, I eventually got one that fit my skills even better.
The story continues, but there’s one caveat: I don’t believe there’s a bottom to the pyramid. That’s the cool part. Where I’m at today in my career is because of all the positions that came before and built upon one another, and where I’m at today will lead to something even greater in the future. They each had a purpose.
The key is trusting the career process: that every experience in life—even a really tough job—is an opportunity to become a better person, learn new skills, develop yourself personally, treat others well (even when they don’t reciprocate), and believe that your dedication and commitment to yourself, your boss, and your team will propel you forward.
Even if forward means not only changing jobs but being able to quit and stay home with your children! Work is the best avenue I know of for saving money so you can do that.
So if you feel like you’re stuck in a rut at work, take heart! Your approach to what you’re doing now has everything to do with moving on to something better.
Remember these 6 things as you push forward:
1. Tackle your own work wholeheartedly.
2. No matter how you get treated, treat others fairly and kindly.
3. Don’t gossip about the boss or coworkers. Not ever.
4. Ask to help when you see an opportunity to learn something new.
5. Say “thank you” and “great job” often .
6. Share the positive things you’ve learned with others outside of work; you never know when someone will need your experience and talents.
Need some more work advice? Check out 10 Ways to Be a Young, Respectful Professional, 2 Simple Secrets to Long-Term Success, 4 Things to Do When Searching For Your Dream Job, How to Get Your Dream Job, and 5 Lessons Every Woman in the Workplace Should Learn