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How to Escape a Career You Don't Love

Do you hate your job?  Do you spend a lot of your working hours just looking at the clock and waiting for it to be over?  It doesn't have to be like this!  At some point in their lives, most people find themselves stuck in a job that they don't enjoy but you don't have to stay stuck.  The reality is that your situation is unlikely to change unless you change it.  Here are some tips to help you get "un-stuck".

Acknowledge your feelings.  Many people walk around for months or even years feeling unsatisfied in their career.  Often they don't address those feelings and they don't do anything about it.  There is a difference between having a bad day and being unhappy at work.  If you have been feeling dissatisfied for any longer than a few weeks, it is important that you acknowledge your feelings and that you try to determine exactly what is making you unhappy about your job.  Even if you just make a commitment to yourself to address this problem, you are taking a step in the right direction. 

Get a new skill.  When you have been in a job for a while, it is easy to fall into a rut.  You do the same tasks day after day without having to put in much of an effort.  After a few years, you could find yourself dissatisfied in your job, without enough marketable skills to make a change.  To avoid that trap, it is important to be constantly updating your skills.  What job do you hope to have in five years?  What skills are required for those jobs and more importantly, which of those skills are you lacking?  See if it's possible to gain some of those skills at your current job.  If that won't work, try to attend training sessions or take a course in your spare time. 

Reconnect with people in your network.  No matter what stage you are at in your career, your network will always be your richest source of opportunities.  If you aren't sure of which direction to take, the people in your network can provide you with insight or make you aware of different opportunities.  Make plans to meet up with your previous colleagues and friends.  Buy them a coffee and tell them how you have been feeling.  Sometimes one conversation is all you need to nudge you in the right direction. 

Read everything you can.  You don't know exactly where you want to be or what you want to be doing but you do know that your current job isn't doing it for you.  Does this describe your situation?  If so, you could benefit from a new perspective.  Read everything you can about the industries that interest you and see if anything jumps out at you.  If you don't have any industries in mind, read career planning books to help you find some direction.  In your reading, you may learn about career opportunities that you have never even considered.     

Set a goal and write it down.  Writing down a goal is a powerful act.  It both commits you to the goal and focuses your energy.  Feeling stuck in your career is awful.  It is frustrating and it makes you feel like you are walking on a treadmill; you are working hard without actually going anywhere.  Setting a goal is like stepping off the treadmill.  You begin walking towards your goal (however slowly) and you make decisions that bring you closer to it.     

Feeling stuck in your career can be frustrating but it can also be an exciting time in your life.  This "stuck" feeling is a good indication that you have mastered your current job and are ready for a new challenge.  Try to embrace this process as an adventure and get excited about the next step in your career. 

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