You open your eyes, and a feeling of dread washes over you. It’s a weekday, which means it’s a workday, which makes work one of the last places you’d like to be.
Or maybe you don’t feel dread, exactly. Instead, it’s a vague feeling. Something between despair and delight – perhaps indifference. You’re not particularly excited about your job. But you’re also not running for the hills.
Either way, your job isn’t doing it for you: You’re feeling blah.
And you’re not alone. According to a 2011 survey by consulting company Accenture, 57 percent of women and 59 percent of men were dissatisfied with their jobs.
Blah feelings can mean many things. The key is to dig deeper, and see how you can improve your work situation — and ultimately your life. Below, two seasoned coaches share their wisdom on what to do.
Excavating Your Blah Feelings
For starters, consider if the blahs follow you after work. “Check in and see if you feel blah when on vacation, over the weekend, and when doing things outside of work that are restorative or fun,” said Rachel W. Cole, a life coach and retreat leader.
Let’s say they don’t. Let’s say your blah feelings are isolated to your work. But is it your profession as a whole or something about your particular job that’s the problem?
“Is it the people, the tasks, the subject matter, the hours, the pressure of a tight deadline, the too-much-time-glued-to-a-computer-screen?” said Michelle Ward, the When I Grow Up Coach, who’s helped hundreds of people create the career they think they can’t have — or discover in the first place.
For instance, Ward worked with a teacher who wanted her help in finding a new career path. After six sessions, however, she realized that she didn’t need to switch careers; she needed to switch jobs. Today, Ward’s client is working at “another school where the staff [is] kind and open to new ideas,” Ward said.
If you’re not sure which parts of your job are problematic, for several days, keep a notebook close by as you work, she said. Any time you’re feeling blah, jot down precisely what you’re doing. “Get as specific as you can,” Ward said.
Identifying Your Hungers and Values
Determining your true values and desires is an important step toward realizing a fulfilling career and life. Does your current job align with your deepest values or desires?
Cole works with clients to identify their hungers so they can lead well-fed lives. “Practice noticing what doesn’t feel good [or] right, [which] usually points to a hunger,” she said. She also suggested answering these journal prompts:
- “I’m afraid I can’t/won’t get it, but what I really desire is…”
- “No one in my life knows I secretly hunger for…”
- “If I’m honest with myself, I’m deeply and truly hungry for…”
Ward asks her clients to complete a “Values Game” at this site. “[It] helps you hone in — and then prioritize — what your values are,” she said.
She also suggested readers reflect on meaningful moments in their lives. “If they get clear on why those moments felt that way to them, then their values aren’t far behind,” she said.
Switching Careers or Pursuing Passions on the Side
Should you stay with your current career – or should you switch professions altogether? “It boils down to what’s meaningful to [you], what feels enough,” Ward said.
Some people are perfectly happy doing work they’re good at – and then volunteering, sewing or styling on the side, she said.
However, others yearn to do things they’re passionate about as their profession, she said. For these individuals a side gig simply isn’t enough.
But, of course, switching careers isn’t simple. So “don’t do it unless you really just have to,” Ward said. “You need that ache, that sense of regret if you don’t go for it.”
Again, self-reflection can help you in making this difficult decision. Cole suggested asking yourself these questions:
- “How does work make me feel?”
- “Is it my specific workplace that doesn’t work for me or is it the career itself?”
- “Does the job leave me enough time and energy to pursue my passion after work?”
- “Are there ways to change my current job to meet some or all of my needs [such as] delegating to others, asking to telecommute, etc.?”
- “If I had a year to live, and I still needed to employed, would I stay here or leave?”
Remember that “It’s never ever too late in life to change your mind, switch paths, try something new, change our mind again, do a U-turn or take a sharp left,” Cole said. Linear career paths are rare, she said.
“Switch up your life to match who you are now and what you know about yourself,” she said.