Karen Darrin

As a career coach, I have spoken to hundreds of people who are bored, paralyzed or victimized by their 9-5 job. They say they hate it but drag themselves in day after day, which quickly becomes year after year. Can you relate?

Ask them why and you’ll get the usual assortment of “I don’t know what else to do;” or “I need the paycheck.” I have been in both spots and I can tell you that you can take steps to move yourself forward. Forward to a less toxic work experience or forward to a new career or forward in making your fantasy business the chance to become a reality.

There are three steps that you can take, right now, without handing in your two-week notice. These steps will give you clues on how you can “make a living” by either shifting your current mindset about your job or by starting to plan for your grand escape from cubicle nation.

  1. What makes you unique?

You have a distinctive combination of talents, skills, tendencies and habits. You are that “one of a kind snowflake” but it is not enough to just know this. You need to know how you are different from all the other humans around you.

Use assessments like Myers Briggs, Strengths Finders 2.0, VIA, Kolbe, to name a few. Hire a coach or have a friend help you pull out the themes and the essence of what you bring to the table. Devise a concise “elevator pitch” about what you offer that is one of a kind. Then find how to offer it to your employer.

I remember interviewing for my first “real job” as college graduate. I was petrified and the interviewer was a cranky, seasoned IBM sales executive. He also had a huge cigar hanging from his mouth, so you can guess how long ago this was. He flicked his cigar ashes in a big ashtray, pointed the foul thing at me and barked, “Why should I hire YOU?”

I decided deep down that this guy was not going to intimidate me so I told him that they had no one with the combination of skills, talent and education that I had. Then I gave him an example of what I meant, using feedback from one of my college mentors. I had no idea that was the winning answer, but I never forgot it. Know what makes you special to your employers.

  1. What do you value?

If you are unclear what your values are, you are being directed by your employer’s values. And I can bet that their values (the ones they live out in the business, not the ones posted on the website) are not aligned with you.

If you value creativity and innovation, working for a company that is a relic of the industrial age is not going to satisfy you. If you have a huge heart for saving the environment, make sure your company is making efforts to align with that goal.

I had a client who valued integrity and honesty in all she did. She landed a plum corporate job that seemed to be her dream come true. Once the rose colored glasses came off though, she uncovered the fact that two C-suite executives had been having an affair for the last eight years. They were both married to other people and gave off the “nobody knows or cares” persona during all the corporate meetings, not knowing that it was no secret. My client was mortified and got herself out of that craziness before she compromised her own values.

And that is why it is key to know what you value as a human being and only work for companies that reflect those values. If a company behaves in a way you cannot tolerate and you turn the other way, you will eventually accept those behaviors. Do not ignore what you stand for.

  1. What energized you in the past?

There is gold among your favorite experiences. When I work on this with clients, we get out the flip chart paper and colored markers. The client plots their “Bliss Lifeline:” X axis is time and Y-axis is the client’s energy (“bliss”) level, usually plotted on a -10 to 10 level. Where have they had fun at work? What was it about that project, environment, leader, and team environment that made it so engaging for them? Include the personal experiences, as there are clues there too. We get very detailed and dig into the client’s high points, extracting common themes. They are always there.

By knowing what energizes and excites you, you can begin to find them, even if you remain in your current job. Small changes can make big shifts in your mindset so don’t discount minuscule shifts.

For example, I once worked for an organization that was not aligned with my skills or values. But, I was able to pay my bills and accommodate my caregiving duties by having this very mundane job. I knew I would not be there long. For me, one of my themes is that I am energized when I am learning. Hence, I began to schedule more client time to understand what my clients did and how it contributed to the organization. I also scheduled lunchtime webinars on topics that were of interest to me. I was then content to ride out that tough time.

Remember that you decided to accept your current job for many reasons. Perhaps those reasons as still valid or have changed. Either way, if you are not happy in your job, work through these three steps. I guarantee you will not look at yourself or what you can bring to the world in a paralyzed way again.

NOTE: Let me help you!  Schedule your complimentary 50-min “Breakthrough Session” here: https://karendarrin.acuityscheduling.com/