You want to have a great career and for everyone to know who you are because of what you do for a living. You pretend you don’t want it, but let’s face it, you do.
Imagining this dream in your mind helps you to get to sleep at night knowing that one day you’ll be happy with your career. Then you go to the office the next day and see another one of your colleagues leaving because their side hustle has now become their full-time gig.
Next up, you see that Tim guy walking down the corridor towards the lift wearing his nicely kept suit and very expensive rainbow tie. You think to yourself, “Who is that douche bag and why is he so happy with his career?” You also hear yourself saying, “He earns twice what I do yet I’m just as good as him.”
Well, I know why you are not happy with your career.
Want to know how? Because I was that miserable son of a gun who was pissed off at the world and had a career that made me unhappy. I’ve been exactly where you are right now. I know how it feels and it feels terrible. That feeling can destroy your life if you don’t do something about it.
“I was that stupid person that chased significance and did whatever I could to make money so I could have more flashy stuff to impress people that didn’t matter”
Now I’d rather impress myself. Now I’m not going to lie to you – the problem with your career is not the people you work with or the company you spend your days adding value to – the problem is you.
Didn’t expect that did you now? It’s easy to blame everything other than yourself and it feels spectacular. We’re all so smart in our head and we all know so much about business. Then when we fail, we blame it on the “other guy,” the stock market, the customer or even our product.
So bottom line, here’s why you’re not happy with your miserable career:
1. You don’t do “valuable” work
Doing work is not the same as doing valuable work. There are lots of people that sit behind a computer screen all day and look busy. They’re busy doing what they’re told to do and continuing to drive the company into the ground. Valuable work is creative, it’s hard, it’s disruptive and it’s innovative.
Valuable work can take two hours to complete and completely change the direction of a company. Valuable work is done by game changers who think differently and are not afraid. Fear is what cripples your career and it’s why you choose mediocre instead.
Anyone can follow orders and do stuff the way it’s always been done. That’s work. Not everyone can come up with the idea that was right in front of everybody’s noses, but no one ever took five minutes out of their day to stop and think about. It’s the conscious doing and creativity that creates valuable work.
2. You watch Netflix instead of going out and networking
Your career will not progress to the level you want it to without a quality network around you. This takes time to build and part of the process is getting off the couch and going to events, functions, seminars, bars, etc, where human beings hang out.
“Those humans that you watch on Netflix are not adding any value to your career. They’re sucking time out of your life and making you dumber by the minute”
3. You don’t hustle hard enough
Being happy in your career is hard work. You get more no’s than yes’s. Creating yes’s is hard work and you have to hustle harder than your competitors. When you don’t work hard enough, you end up with poor results. These poor results translate into unhappiness because you don’t get the satisfaction of having achieved something that your happy colleagues get.
4. You’re not well liked
Getting that big promotion or starting a company of your own is not only about taking action. People have to love you and want to work for you, or with you. That means you have to be liked by the majority (not everyone).
If you run around swearing at everyone and spend more time on the negative parts of your work life rather than the positive, people will pick up on that. Without realizing, your colleagues will gravitate away from you and you’ll become unlikeable.
Happy, healthy colleagues that I’ve observed are generally well liked. People say nice stuff about them and they’re fun to be around. Who wants to hang around an unhappy, negative, draining loser?
5. You don’t understand it takes years
There is no magic number, although as a starting point, I reckon five years is a good place to start. Been doing it six months? Yep, you have a long way to go. You’re not happy with your career because you want it to take off in a short amount of time.
If your children didn’t succeed taking their first steps as a toddler, would you stop them from trying to walk? No, you would keep encouraging them until they walked. Why is your career any different?
A career encompasses many elements that are like small hidden treasures that are spread out across a treasure map that takes years to work through. Every year in your career, you pick up another couple of pieces of treasure. Before long, you have all the tools needed to create your ideal career.
Wanting things too quickly will make you unhappy in your career. Don’t fall for this venus fly trap.
6. You don’t engage in personal development
The way you think and your skills have stayed the same for the last two years. You must develop yourself every day. Not once a year at some rah-rah leaders conference, not at the weekly team huddle, EVERY SINGLE DAY.
Aim for one small advancement in your career each day. Follow this one step and you will see your career happiness increase tenfold over the course of a year. Growing as a person and in your career is directly tied to your happiness.
7. You don’t understand “good enough”
Still at work at 9 pm on a Friday night trying to finalize that presentation for next week? You’re probably over-thinking it. Perfection in your career will kill your happiness like drugs kill brain cells.
“The key skill of people that are happy in their careers is that they get on with the job”
They know that not everything they touch will turn to gold. As long as a few things turn to gold and then focus your time on these precious nuggets, the rest will fall into place. Perfection causes you to waste time in your career looking for the magic cure.
8. You don’t give it a go
You’re always trying to second-guess everything. You spend days thinking about all the possibilities and the scenarios that could play out based on a certain action. All of this thinking holds you back from trying new things.
It’s the new things you try in your career that will give you the fulfillment and variety you need to be happy with how your career is going.
9. Your personal life is out of control
When you think about your personal life, you tell yourself that you’re happy, happy, happy with how things are going. Stop lying to yourself. What happens outside of your career has more of a significant effect than anything else.
If you are unhappy at home, then you’ll take out your frustration during work hours. If your partner cheats on you and then lies about it, you’ll think of your colleagues in the same way.
As for me, I’m guilty your honor. Lock me up and throw away the key. That’s right this is one I’ve indulged in over and over. A year ago, though, I told myself that enough is enough. You should do the same. Sort your personal life out and stop letting it ruin your career.
Take some time off if you must, but just handle that mess once and for all. Then, watch your career skyrocket. The shackles will be removed and suddenly your career will feel entirely different.
10. You don’t give to people that need your help
People ask for your help every day. Help some of them. Notice how I didn’t say all?
The strange thing about your career is that if it’s all about you, it feel’s rather boring and unfulfilling. The way to get out of this downward spiral is to help people who need it. Give your opinion, share contacts or maybe even be a mentor. Do something that helps someone other than you.
11. You’re not trustworthy
Could you be trusted with a company secret? Can you resist bragging about how much money you made last year even though you’re not supposed to say? Can you stop yourself from talking about that big new client you signed last week?
Trust is everything. When people don’t trust you, they rarely tell you. Instead, you have a whole bunch of opportunities that disappear and the worst part is that no one tells you. Getting your dream career that makes you happy requires lots of opportunities to be thrown your way.
Increase the odds in your favor by being honest. It’s harder than you think but worth it.
12. All the answers stay in your head
That’s why I do this blogging thing that many of you criticize me for. I want the answers that are in my head – which I’ve learned from multiple failed businesses, broken relationships, severe health issues and near death experiences – to go beyond only being able to assist me in my life.
Everyone can benefit from what I’ve learned. Everyone can benefit from what you have learned. Think about that one little fact for a minute.
13. You settle for comfortable
Instead of being on time this morning, you got that coffee because you told yourself you needed it. Coffee makes you comfortable. Instead of finishing that project on Friday you chose to go to drinks with your colleagues. Alcohol makes you comfortable.
Instead of giving that speech to your leadership team you chose to say no because you don’t like public speaking. It’s not comfortable.
“Comfortable decisions lead to results that make you unhappy in your career. Get used to being uncomfortable if you want to be happy with your career”
14. Happiness is a state of mind
You’re not happy with your career because you haven’t decided to be. Sure you might not be in the ideal job right now but it’s all part of the journey.
One day that call center job will feel awesome because it will have helped you to get where you want to go. Why not feel that way right now? Who says you have to wait to be happy with your career?