Coming to Terms with Your Career

I have written about career before, sharing advice for job hunting and running a side hustle. I’ve also written about strategies for resilience– how to just suck it up and deal, whether you like it or not.

I have followed my own advice, especially applying strategies for resilience and enduring the good and the bad. Here’s what I need to do now: I need to appreciate my career for what it is.

The thing that really makes this difficult work bearable is the knowledge that a) this is temporary, and b) I am learning. Those are the pieces that made other challenges so invigorating! I have been reading the narratives of bloggers from before they got big, and how they got where they are. Both Leandra Medine and Joanna Goddard, basically blog goddesses, pay tribute to what they considered a ‘paying of the dues’… really,  just putting in the time and gaining personal experience. What is motivating about their testimony on gaining experience is that this experience didn’t go on a resume and earn them a promotion… this experience lent itself to each woman becoming a self-made entrepreneur.

But then again, everyone’s job, no matter what it is, is hard. Goddard said as much when we talk about the public perception of her work. Everyone’s life is messy and complicated. Whether we live our lives out for public consumption or not, don’t most of us put on a brave face? “All those Pinterest quotes are so damaging,” she says, listing off clichés like, “Love what you do and it will never feel like work,” or, “You should want to do your job whether they paid your or not.”

“It’s called work; that’s why they pay you for it. It’s not always fun. If your goal is to be eternally giddy about your dream job, I’m afraid you’ll never find it.” That doesn’t mean she isn’t thankful for all that Cup of Jo has brought her, but there is a difference between gratitude and happiness. Gratitude carries us through rough patches, anxiety-ridden days and full-out downhill slides.
Quote from Man Repeller interview with Joanna Goddard of Cup of Jo.

Beyond just sucking it up and getting through, something bigger has to happen. I know that to reach the next level of my career, and to be best prepared to switch careers in the future, I need to commit. I’m not very good at doing that! I don’t want to commit because this is so hard and so emotionally trying. I’m afraid. I’m tempted to leave all the time. But if I commit, and deeply invest my time and energy, I will be better at it and better for it. The community that I serve will be better served. I may see growth, but if I don’t I’ll also have one hell of an experience to put on my resume.

Strategies to Invest and Commit in Your Career

  1. Step up and be more active.
    Take on a new role and more responsibility in your work place. The more involved you are, the more skills and connections you gain and the easier the job itself becomes. Sometimes this means volunteering for a job that no one else wants to do, or putting in an extra couple of hours each week.
  2. Seek out professional development
    Maintain a growth mindset and seek out the resources to make you better at what you do. Bonus: these opportunities may give you a much needed break, which will ease the burnout. By taking the time to learn and grow in your field, and stepping away from the workplace for a few days to evaluate your own performance, you will return to your workplace with fresh eyes and new ideas.
  3. Try new things
    This is the easiest way to get out of a rut with anything in life. Do something different! Approach your day differently, adjust your schedule, apply new skills within your work. If you can totally switch something within your job, try it! Maybe move from the desk to the field or vice versa, or changing your focus from one specialization to another.
  4. Explore what will make you long term happy
    When you are off work, try a hobby or new career trajectory that you enjoy- something that brings you lasting joy and peace. Pursue your curiosity in other things! It may be an investment in your future career. You may surprise yourself: as we develop our personal interests and break out of our comfort zone (read: pattern of tv and pizza), often other things (like work) and positively impacted.
  5. Invest in the present while planning the future
    Be really awesome at your current job, and promote your success. This positive attention puts you in a position to continue moving forward. You’ll need those wins whether you are trying to grow in your current career or look for other work.
  6. Be a resource
    After a few years in one job, you are able to be a mentor for new professionals. Apply your expertise and feel purposeful in your work by making yourself or you work available as a resource to your peers. This could be done by circulating a resource you developed within your network or online, even selling materials or starting a website. This will deepen your personal practice as you shift your thinking to “What have I learned and how can I teach it?”
  7. Create opportunity
    Are you bored? Annoyed with the lack of community at work? Change things! Step up, because if you want something to happen differently, it takes an initiator. The break room is sad and uncomfortable so everyone eats alone at their desk? Volunteer to decorate it and start a committee to host fun events with the staff! Basically, see a need, fill a need. You will be happier to be there and will be recognized as a valuable self-starter.
  8. Make new friends and keep the old
    Seek and build a community for yourself. Reach out and start new things with coworkers. Does it feel impossible to spend anytime with coworkers? The internet makes it so easy to search for friends! There are book clubs on Meetup, and women’s events on Eventbrite. Ladies Get Paid is a cool resource to find other career-minded women in your area. I also highly recommend taking crazy classes all the time, like rock climbing, scuba, ceramics, woodworking, dance, improv, etc. You will meet the coolest people, and feel deeply connected.
  9. Reach out
    I always forget that other people have/are suffered/suffering through this and forge a path through it. By reaching out to people who have been there, done that, and finding a mentor or comrade in the field, you are reminded that you are not alone, and may find a greater sense of purpose and interest.
  10. Make it worth your while
    Spend your money on what you really want. What brings you peace and joy and happiness? What makes your daily life easier? Don’t waste your HARD EARNED MONEY on stuff that doesn’t serve you. I am trying to buy experiences over stuff, and stuff that has a specific need. Also, if you what you really want is a different career or a long retirement, then save that money. Make yourself a fuck off fund or carefully pad your retirement account and then leave when you’re ready.

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One thought on “Coming to Terms with Your Career

  1. Great post, great bits of advice, Kelsey. Point no 4, especially, caught my attention.

    Buying experiences over stuff that you are going to get bored of sooner than later is my another takeaway from this post.

    Cheers
    _Amitesh

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