Remember when you first got out of school and you were so excited about the work you were going to do in the world? Perhaps you were fortunate to find a job that you loved right out of the gate. Most likely it took some time to find a position that suited you and your skills. Perhaps you had to compromise more than you expected but it was decent work. Or maybe you fell into a position and never really thought much more about it other than getting raises. So ten, twenty or even thirty years later, how do you feel about your work? Are you comfortable but bored?
I hope that you really love your work. And I hope that you really love the company where you work as well. If you don’t love it or you haven’t given it much thought lately, then I encourage you to take some time to review what work means to you and explore what you want from your workplace. Maybe it is time to change jobs, start a business, or even retire whether or not you are retirement age. Here are some questions to ask yourself if you are lackluster about your work situation.
Are you working only to get an income?
There is nothing inherently wrong with that. Financial security is very important. And though you need to take care of your living expenses, it is always worth assessing what exactly you need financially and whether your job is fitting the bill. Perhaps you do the work you do just for money as a side-hustle to enable you to do the unpaid work you love, like writing or art or whatever. If that works for you, great. On the other hand, if you have been working your way up the corporate ladder, you might ask yourself am I making much more than I really need? Are the job and related activities and stress worth the money? Would you prefer a different position that gives you more enjoyment at a lower salary? I know that sounds counter to the go-go-go mentality of corporate America where you are always trying to get salary increases for greater status and bigger houses, nicer cars and all the trimmings. Perhaps you already have all those trimmings. Do you really need more? It is a wonderful problem to have, but it is so easy to get caught up in the game of making more money. Does the money matter as much as the work itself to you anymore? If you love the job and the money too, then go at it. If not, then it is very important to figure out how much money you really need and find work that gives you joy and satisfaction that matches your financial needs.
How is your workplace treating you?
What do you like most about going to work each day? What do you like the least? Do you enjoy your workplace environment? Do you like your office and where it is located? What is your opinion about the executive structure and how the company is run? Do you align with the values of your company? Do you enjoy spending time with your colleagues? These are very important questions. Life is made up of the day-to-day moments and if you aren’t getting any satisfaction from the minutes that make up the day, your life will be very dull. Perhaps you love your work, but you are in the wrong environment. Then look for a position at a different company. As you look for a new job, spend a lot of time getting to know the company and its people and workplace style and feel before you accept a new position. Companies are wide ranging depending on their size and business attitude.
Are you working because you don’t know what you would do otherwise?
For some people this seems like a crazy question. They can’t wait to retire and do nothing or do anything they want. But if this question rings true to you then I suggest that you take some time to explore what you want from your life. First make sure that you are fully clear on your financial situation. Then explore what’s next for you. Maybe that means going back to school to get training or certification in a new area. Maybe that means volunteering. Maybe that means starting your own company. Or maybe that means exploring new hobbies and activities. The important point is that if work isn’t very satisfying but you are just punching the clock because you don’t know what else you would do, take some time each week to explore other opportunities. There are lots of books out there to help you on a new path in life. Life coaches are a great resource.
Is the effort you are putting into your job worth what you are getting out of it?
This is the bottom line. If you are enjoying what you do in your work, getting the money you need to make your living, enjoying the company you keep and getting your work wants and needs met, then you are lucky to be doing what you are doing. Congrats! Check in periodically to make sure that you feel the same way at different points in your life. If you answered no to this question, then it is probably time for a change. It takes effort no matter what route you choose, but you deserve to get more out of life than feeling like you are going to work, going to bed, getting up in the morning and doing it all over again. Step out of your comfort zone if you are feeling dissatisfied at work and find a way to create the life that you want.