We have all been there. You are sitting at your desk watching the seconds tick by wondering if anyone would notice if you ducked out an hour (or three) early. Another dull day, with the same boring routine, and you aren’t sure how you are going to last the week in this job, let alone the rest of the year.
If a continuous sinking feeling is slowly taking years off of your life, it’s time to do something about it. But what? You have bills to pay, at least one mouth to feed, and an expensive social life to keep you sane.
How can you break free from the job you no longer love but still pays the bills? Here are three things you can do today to move that glorious day of leaving your job closer to reality.
# 1 – Look Before You Leap
When most of us think about the phrase “look before you leap,” we think of making sure we have a safe spot to land. But this assumes we have already decided to jump.
The biggest recurring problem I see with those who are seeking change is they refuse to start looking. Job seekers often confuse the “looking” with the “leaping.”
One of my clients has worked at the same company for 25 years and is ready for a change. She found a great opportunity in an unrelated field and was debating whether or not to apply for the job. She decided not to because she wasn’t sure it was the change she was looking for.
I explained to her she has it all wrong. The application and interview for the job are looking, and leaving her current role is the leaping. By applying, and potentially even interviewing, she will be gathering information that will be useful no matter what her future holds.
Looking isn’t leaping. If you are unhappy with the status quo, do all of the looking you can. The question of leaping is for another day.
#2 – Stop Looking at Job Boards, Start Talking to People
Scrolling through job openings during your downtime isn’t how you make a change. It’s barely even conducting a job search. It’s just depressing.
If you are serious about making a change in your career, don’t start with an online job search, start with people. People are who create jobs and make decisions. People are who create opportunities.
First, talk to people in your network about your intention to start looking for a new job. Tell them why you are looking and what date you hope to make a change by. Tell them why you are searching for a new job. Tell them your story.
Next, explain how you are going to apply your current experience and skillset in your new job. For example, maybe your job sucks, but you have become damn good at running extensive marketing campaigns. Explain that you are looking forward to managing large projects at your next job. Don’t hold out for a management position if you don’t have any management experience.
Lastly, ask for help. Let your connections know you are in the market for a new opportunity and would appreciate any ideas they have. Ask them to look over your resume. See if they have any connections that would be useful to you. You would love it if you could help them out, odds are they feel the same way about assisting you.
Change happens by communicating with people. If you are stuck in a rut with your current job, it’s time to strengthen and expand your network of people who can help you take the next step in your career.
#3 – Get Your Financial House in Order
What if you find the change you are looking for, and it requires a significant pay cut, an expensive move across the country, or an advanced degree? Can you afford to make these changes?
If the answer is no, it’s time to move money management to the top of your priority list. Money may not buy happiness, but a lack of money can prevent you from finding it. Don’t let a lifetime of poor money habits prevent you from your destiny (or at least a better job).
The first step is to get your spending under control. If you find your dream job, but it pays 10% less than you are currently making, you still want to take it. Don’t let car loans, credit card debt, and a runaway clothing budget prevent you from making the change you are looking for.
Build some breathing room into your monthly cash flow so you can take advantage of any opportunity that comes your way.
Also, it is crucial to set aside money to get you through any transition period a new job may require. If you have to write a significant check for moving expenses, buy specialized equipment, or obtain an expensive certification, you want to have your money ready to go.
Don’t think of saving money for an “emergency account,” save it for an “opportunity account.” I never encourage my clients to save for a rainy day; I tell them to save for a sunny day. Save money as an optimist, and good things will happen.
If your job is driving you crazy, there is hope. You don’t need to find your dream job tomorrow to begin a meaningful change in your life. Focus on the things you can control: looking at what is out there, talking with people in your network, and getting your financial house in order.
Finding career satisfaction is a multi-step process, and the first step is simply to get moving. Your dream job may be out there; it’s just waiting for you to get your shit together.