Getting off the Hamster Wheel

Do you feel stuck in your career?  I did.  Twenty years ago, I kept trying to find my home in the arts but I just wasn’t happy living that lifestyle as my fulltime job.  I was doing it because I thought I had to figure it out since it was “my dream” and I spent four years studying and living for the day I got to be a part of that world.  But what you wanted at 23 may not be what you want at 30, 40, etc.   And what you loved earlier in life may not fit what your life evolves to overtime.  It takes a lot of courage to admit you are not happy at work.  But you owe it to yourself and your friends & family to find something that brings you joy, fulfillment, and success.   So let’s talk about some ways you get off the hamster wheel and find your passion!

Change careers.  I realize this is a LOT easier said than done.  There may be skill gaps, experiences you need to build, even schooling or accreditations you need to earn before you can make a change.   But the bottom line is, you don’t have to stay in the same job you are in today.  Start the self-discovery to see what you like and what you don’t like about your current situation.  In a recent article, I talked about how to start thinking about making a change and how to start that journey.   You may find you like the work you do, but you are in the wrong industry.  Being an engineer at a large bank is very different than being an engineer at a tech start-up for example.  Or you may love being a teacher but you want to change grades or the classes you are teaching.  Or you want to do the 180 and go from accountant to marketing manager, business analyst to therapist….stage manager to HR!  Talk to different people in those industries or in those careers, consider partnering with a coach to help you think through your options and navigate the change, or find a champion in your life who will be with you and support you at every step.  It’s scary, but it’s possible, you just have to take that first step of admitting you want to consider a change!

Fueling your passion on the side.  I know many people who have chosen to stay in their current jobs, but fuel their passion through volunteer work or as a side gig.   Especially in today’s world, part-time freelance work is extremely popular and available through sites like Upwork or Fiverr.   But for a variety of reasons, you may feel content in your 9-5 job and don’t want to either leave that work or the stability and longer-term security it provides you.  And that is totally ok as well!  It doesn’t mean you can’t follow your passion.   If you love animals but don’t want to go back to school to become a vet, volunteer at a local shelter (or offer to help with their web design).   If you love the arts, there are many regional theatres who use local actors, or you can volunteer as an usher.   If you love kids, you could be a part-time tutor.  Or you have an eye for marketing, you can help a start-up company build their brand as a freelancer.   There are so many options that I could go on forever, but I know there is an opportunity near you that could use your skills and your energy to make a difference even if it’s “just on the side”.

Realize you were stuck for other reasons.  Similar to the phrase, “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” sometimes we just get fed up and feel stuck because we are frustrated in our jobs, or life is throwing us other curveballs and we think it would be easier or better “if”.   It’s important to consider your options when you feel that way.  If you don’t explore a new passion, you will always have a nagging feeling in your mind.  But just as you had the courage to consider something new, it’s also ok (albeit hard) to say you were actually happy in your original job and there were other forces at play that made you reconsider your path.  Don’t be embarrassed or frustrated.  Embrace the journey, share the reasons for your decisions, and go back to what made you happy.  And then, focus on whatever was actually driving your dissatisfaction and work on that! 

No matter your journey, the important thing is to not let yourself feel stuck.  Do the work and take the time to think about what is missing in your life.  Do some research about what your new career could look like (schooling, salaries, opportunities near you, etc).  And know that you are not alone.  There are lots of people that have taken the same steps you are considering and come to the decisions listed above.  I’ll be sharing those stories soon (spoiler alert!).  I’m here to help.  One of my passions is to help people get unstuck in their careers, and hopefully, their lives.  We all work way too much to not be fulfilled by what we do.  So let’s connect if you want to start your process to get off the hamster wheel!