When asked about staying in an unsatisfying job, Michelle Obama gave a short but hard-hitting answer to wannabe career changers: it’s okay to change your mind.
In conversation with Oprah Winfrey for the launch of her memoir, the former First Lady of America revealed that, yes, even she has struggled with career choices and making the right career move:
“It took loss—losses in my life that made me think, have you ever stopped to think about who you wanted to be? And I realised I had not. I was sitting on the 47th floor of an office building, going over cases and writing memos.”
This realisation and simple ‘it’s okay’ attitude hits the nail on the head when it comes to dealing with career changes. It’s surprising how many people stay in jobs they don’t like — over 70 percent of workers don’t feel satisfied with their career choices. While it’s natural to feel bored or dissatisfied every now and then, if you feel disconnected for the majority of your work week, it might be best to start a new job, turn that side-hustle into a business or go at it alone as a freelancer.
If you’ve been toying around with this idea for a while and recognise yourself in all three scenarios below, it may be time to seriously consider a career change.
It could be that the passion that excited you when you started has worn away, or your workload has shifted focus to things that don’t get your creative juices flowing. Has talking to your team and boss not helped and have you stopped contributing ideas? Do you regularly find yourself in meetings where you are no longer motivated to bring anything to the table? Whatever the case might be, it’s time to seek out passion if you’re running on empty.
Having a bad day or letting stress get the best of you sometimes is normal — we’ve all been there. But if you feel demoralised at the mere thought of work and can’t stop yourself from hopelessly venting your frustrations to loved ones, there might be something deeper at play.
If feelings of negativity and unhappiness peak at work and affect other parts of your personal life, you may want to question whether it’s worth it and think about pursuing something that makes you feel alive.
Understandably, people sometimes stick to a job that makes them unhappy to pay the bills. But if you feel apathetic, bored and almost like your invisible, you might need to explore other opportunities. Work will have its challenging times, but there is no need for a job to drain all of the enthusiasm out of your system. You should feel like you are, at the very least, valued for the work you do and are moving forward in your role.
Finding fulfilment in your career doesn’t happen overnight and for many of us it’s a case of trial and error. You can start your journey by getting clarity about what your strengths and passions are, which can eventually make all the difference in your career and life – helping you to make the right career move for you.