What should you do? You've been working hard as a lawyer, as a flight attendant, as an office manager, but now you realize—and perhaps you realized it long ago—that the job is depleting you. It's draining you, and turning you into a lesser version of yourself. But for any number of reasons, you feel you can't quit. Maybe the benefits are so good that you're golden handcuffed in; or you think that after devoting yourself to a profession for so long it would be a waste to try to move onto a new profession; or you think that nobody will hire you in a new field because you lack the relevant experience. What should you do?
Here are some thoughts:
1. Don't assume that you're in the wrong job. Look before you leap. You might just have forgotten what drew you to the role in the first place. For one week, track your activities, noting the ones that make you feel strong and the ones that make you feel weak. At the end of the week, pick two that create in you strong positive emotions. Relive those two moments. Feel again what you loved about the job in the beginning.
2. The clearest sign that you're in the wrong career is if you cannot imagine a future in it. If you've looked hard at the activities that strengthen you and know deep in your heart that there's no way for those strengthening feelings to be recreated and no way to push your job gradually toward creating more and more of them each week, then it's time to act: Make the decision in your mind and plan your exit strategy. Don't dance around it. Don't second-guess it. Accept it. You know that your job does not and will never call upon the best of you. Nothing can compensate for this. No amount of money. No benefits. No amount of time invested. Nothing.
3. Start by focusing on your interests. What magazines do you read? What articles are you drawn to in those magazines? What kind of people do you find yourself hanging around with? Pick two interests or subject areas that always intrigue you and research them. Study the life that you want to live.
Use your strengths to build a bridge in a new direction
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