If you work just to pay bills, you might find joy only in scheduled time off. But what if you found joy in your job instead?
You might be hesitant about change or unsure how to find fulfilling work. You might even need to go back to school to upgrade your skills.
But finding a job you’re passionate about is worth putting in the time and effort. Sometimes, confronting uncertainty and trying something new is the best way to find a job you love.
According to a 2021 Gallup survey, only about 48% of adults employed full or part time are completely satisfied with their jobs.
Meanwhile, 39% are “somewhat satisfied,” 9% are “somewhat dissatisfied,” and 5% are “completely dissatisfied.” You don’t have to be in the last group to make a change.
People leave their jobs for many reasons, including:
- lack of rapport with their boss
- few opportunities
- trust issues
- career change
- health reasons
- work-life balance
- workplace culture
If you work full time, you spend a large part of your waking hours at work. If your job isn’t a good fit, this can have a negative impact on your well-being.
There are some common signs it might be time to leave your job.
- It’s affecting your physical or mental health.
- The growth opportunities don’t match your ambition.
- You don’t like the workplace culture.
- Your job conflicts with your ethics.
- You’re seldom happy at work.
- Your efforts to improve the situation haven’t worked.
It’s not just your imagination — job strife can cause health issues. The
- insomnia or other sleep problems
- stomach problems
- high blood pressure
- anxiety and depression
Factors that can cause these health issues include:
- insufficient safety or health policies
- poor management practices
- lack of communication
- lack of control or involvement in decision making
- inadequate employee support
- inflexible schedule
- lack of clarity regarding expectations or objectives
If you’re experiencing any physical or mental health issues from work, it might be time to consider finding a new job.
Finding a career you love begins with some reflection. Before you look for something new, try first to identify what you want.
Choose a lifestyle
You could match your resume with job opportunities, but that might not bring the change you’re looking for.
Instead, you could think about the lifestyle you want and work from there.
Factors to consider include whether you want a full-time career or part-time side income. Would you rather work for someone else, or are you a budding entrepreneur?
Multiple job qualities can impact lifestyle, such as:
- work location
- scheduling flexibility
- work environment
- workplace culture
- work-life balance
You can begin with your dream scenario in mind or a lifestyle you’d prefer. Investigating the opportunities that align with your goals and comparing the required skills to yours will help you discover what retraining or upgrading you might need.
A job you love energizes you but doesn’t drain you. Responsibilities such as paying bills and looking after family are essential, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find work you enjoy.
Work that aligns with your values is compatible with your temperament, and provides use and growth for your abilities can be satisfying.
What’s fulfilling for one person may not be for another. It helps to assess yourself and consider your preferences. Which of the following would you prefer?
- leadership or supporting role
- administration or front line
- team based or solo
- creation or maintenance
- growth opportunities or stability
- consistency or flexibility
These factors are essential to consider. Some people savor settling into a role and growing roots, but you might get restless and want new experiences.
If you’re interested in a supporting role for a better work-life balance, you might not appreciate being pressured into a leadership role.
Combine your needs, talents, and preferences
If you’re like most people, you need an income. Some people make this their top priority and choose jobs based on how much they can earn. Sometimes this works, and sometimes this leads to burnout.
A job you’ll likely want to keep incorporates three crucial factors:
- Your time is spent in ways that you enjoy.
- You can use your talents and skills.
- You earn the income that you need.
This may sound like a lofty goal, but balance is more important than perfection. For example, if you earn less but enjoy your time at work, you might spend fewer entertainment dollars escaping from a job you don’t like.
Connecting with others is one way to discover new career leads. It’s also how employers find you. The days of limited, in-person networking opportunities are over now that social media has increased everyone’s reach with sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
In addition to providing potential job contacts, networking is a valuable opportunity to learn from others and find mentors in your chosen field.
The expression “feel the fear and do it anyway” can help you foster a change-oriented mindset.
If you always think that your next job will be better, it could be because you repeat choices that aren’t oriented toward your goals.
An example is deciding against retraining opportunities and continuing the same work you’ve always done. While there’s comfort in familiarity, there’s no relief from the issues that make you dislike your job.
Instead, a change-oriented mindset can connect you with new opportunities that can lead to work you enjoy.
How you leave your old jobs reflects your professionalism and personal branding. Even if you never plan to return, it’s a good idea to leave on the best possible terms:
- Give at least 2 weeks’ written notice.
- Resign in person, with a formal resignation letter.
- Tell your manager before your co-workers.
- Offer to train your replacement.
- Be honest but positive about your reason for leaving.
- Express gratitude for the time you’ve spent with the company.
- Wrap up as much unfinished work as you can in your remaining time.
Your job is how you support yourself and your family, so it can feel risky to give up a stable position. But staying in a job where you’re continuously unhappy can affect your well-being.
You don’t have to face this challenge alone. Career coaches and recruitment consultants can help you with this transition.
A good place to begin is simply talking about a career change with friends and family. Not only can you brainstorm ideas, but you might discover opportunities you didn’t know existed.