Are you someone who followed a career path that was chosen for you, or one which your family or friends heavily influenced you to follow? Whether or not it was your choice, are you happy in your job?
People often come to despise their jobs if they reluctantly followed that path . . . either from the get-go or after they’ve held the job for some time.
Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO at Gallup, voiced his concern about this problem:
“According to Gallup’s World Poll, many people in the world hate their job and especially their boss. My own conclusion is that this is why global GDP per capita, or productivity, has been in general decline for decades.
Employees everywhere don’t necessarily hate the company or organization they work for as much as they do their boss. Employees — especially the stars — join a company and then quit their manager. It may not be the manager’s fault so much as these managers have not been prepared to coach the new workforce.
Only 15% of the world’s one billion full-time workers are engaged at work. It is significantly better in the U.S., at around 30% engaged, but this still means that roughly 70% of American workers aren’t engaged. It would change the world if we did better.
What the whole world wants is a good job, and we are failing to deliver it — particularly to millennials. This means human development is failing, too. Most millennials are coming to work with great enthusiasm, but the old management practices — forms, gaps and annual reviews — grinds the life out of them.”
Do You Have Regrets About a Job You Turned Down or a Career Path You Didn’t Take?
According to research, at around age 7:
“Humans develop an ability for what’s called counterfactual thinking, the capacity to imagine what might have been.”
We all make missteps that we regret, but some of them typically diminish quicker.
“Social regrets — wishing you’d married someone else, for instance — tend to be more intense than nonsocial ones. People identify regret as the second most common emotional state, after love. Don’t worry too much about missteps: Regrets of action (quitting a job, say) are generally stronger at first but fade more quickly than regrets of inaction (staying in a career you dislike), which persist and can become a sort of passive wistfulness.
Imagine regret as the psychological version of physical pain, drawing attention to something inside that’s off or in need of healing.
Regret is a signal that you’re learning from your mistakes.”
You can use your career regrets to do better next time by making better decisions.
Psychology professor Amy Summerville noted in the above article:
“We don’t always have control over outcomes, but we do have control over our process. Research your options — but avoid ‘maximizing,’ or exhaustively considering every possibility in search of the perfect. Focus on what’s good enough for you.”
How To Be Happy in Your Job
Executive job search strategist Sarah Johnston crowdsourced other experts (job search strategists, recruiters, career coaches, etc.) on LinkedIn for their thoughts on how people choose companies and professions.
Here are some of the responses her post received:
Career Coach Shelly Piedmont
“When I would be on college campuses recruiting, I would always ask which companies the students were interested in. It always seemed like the same six to eight well-known brands. I knew people who had worked in most of these companies. Many did not have good work experiences. I wondered how much of their desire to work there was corporate marketing or just what their friends/parents thought was right and how much was through research.
I always thought the ones that told me a less well-known employer might be on the better track since it was obvious that they knew way more about the company and how working there would fit their career path.
When you are with a smaller organization, your jobs tend to be broader. You usually get exposure to different aspects of a role that might not be available in a larger company. I grew the most in my career when I worked in mid-sized companies, and I had to figure it out and not pass a project or issue on to another department.”
Executive Resume Writer Debra Boggs
“I’ve been working with a client for about 6 months now while he navigates a C-level job search where he has the time to look for the perfect opportunity, so he’s been very selective. Our salary goal for him is $300K+ based on his experience and market value. However, he has a friend who is in a very different place career and industry-wise and they suggested he quit aiming so high and just take a $100K job because that should be good enough. This made him start to doubt his value and his strategy.
While our friends and family can be well-meaning and good-intentioned, they may not have all the information, perspective, and mindset that we do.
Case in point, my dad wanted me to be a nurse because there were only two options (in his eyes) for women who went to college, nursing and teaching. And he said teaching didn’t pay enough. I’m forever grateful I didn’t follow his advice because I faint at the sight of blood.”
Career Coach Bob McIntosh
“I find that many of my clients think they want to work at a blue chip company because of the prestige, without knowing the inner workings of the organization. They become disillusioned after some time there. My message: if a company claims to be the Top Company in ABC, investigate further.”
Executive Recruiter Wendy Schoen
“People must remember that there are many parts of a job. There is the job itself AND there are the people AT the job. Both have to be in alignment for you to be happy at your job.
That is why I always encourage my candidates to actually meet the people with whom they will actually be working before accepting any job offer. Just because you “like” the partners doesn’t mean you will like the “rank and file”.
BUT the lesson is clear … no matter how much you may LOVE the job, if you hate the people around you, you will want out ASAP!”
Career Coach Jessica Sweet
“I think many people might realize after the fact that they never took the time to actually learn what it was like to work at their company. They might have questions about how to find those things out. But the real thing they don’t know (and might not know how to find out) is this: what kind of environment will YOU really thrive in? Plenty of people can say the things they know they don’t want, but can they say where they will truly learn and grow? If they can’t, it really is just following the crowd.”
Executive Resume Writer Erin Kennedy
“People go into the role thinking it will change their lives, they’ll be able to add so much, etc. and when reality hits and it’s not quite what they expected, they find themselves feeling stuck in a role they don’t want.”
Career Coach Anil Ram
“I remember at university, I followed the crowd and applied for jobs that my friends were applying for. It didn’t get me anywhere and I’m glad because over the last 5 years, I’ve really figured what I want to do in life.
As soon as you jump into a job (for the wrong reasons), it gets very difficult to leave. Why would you? Being unemployed again? Not having security, no income, the stigma of no job, it’s not the easiest ride to have. Then again, imagine being deeply unhappy in your career…”
Job Search Coach Austin Belcak
“It’s so important to do your own research and due diligence on these companies before you accept anything! A lot of people don’t always know how to do that though, here are a few of my favorite ways:
1. Read the benefits section of the company’s site (duh). This will give you a baseline of where they are at and what they offer.
2. Read reviews on Glassdoor. While Glassdoor isn’t always the best source, it can be very, very helpful and is a good place to start.
3. Try to find employees who left for a better opportunity. You can run a search on LinkedIn, then go to “All Filters,” and include this company in the “Past Companies” filter. People who left for “better” opportunities tend to be less biased.
4. Listen to interviews. Start with the executives to hear how they talk and how they speak about culture. Then move down and try to find interviews with “regular” employees as well.
5. Look up current employees online. Check their LinkedIn, other social profiles, portfolios, etc. Based on what you find, do these people seem like “your people?”
6. Get clear on your values. Take the High5 or Strengths Finders test (or something similar) so you have a baseline to reference.”
Career Coach David Mendoza
“I find that tons of students (the population I work with) are making career decisions based solely on what’s perceived as cool out there. They are not digging enough to find if those places are truly aligned with their vision and their values.
Just because a company or a brand is popular doesn’t mean that is going to be a good fit. Do your research, read company reviews, interview the employees, check out their social media and then make a decision based on what you want and what’s important to you. It’s your career, not anyone else’s.”
Career Coach Nicole Case
“Everyone has a unique experience at work. Each department and team will have their own microculture. Take all feedback about a company or role with a grain of salt. You need to have clarity on what is important to you in a team and company for you to determine if it’s the right place for you. Finally, at the end of the day, you will never know what it is like to work somewhere until you are actually there.”
Human Resources and Management Consultant Susan M. Heathfield
(From her Balance Careers article)
Top 10 ways to be happy in your job:
- Find a career you enjoy
- Find a job that gives you time outside work
- Take charge of your own professional and personal development
- Ask for feedback frequently
- Only make commitments you can keep
- Avoid negativity
- Practice professional courage
- Make friends
- If all else fails, job searching and landing a new job can make you smile