Does this paragraph sound like you:
I’ve had tremendous anxiety and stress on my job for over a year. Actually, I’ve been stressed out for much longer. Lately, I feel like I’m “on the edge”; I’m about to go crazy.
Or what about these comments:
- I worked 13 hours today….
- I have been exhausted all day and found it very difficult to concentrate at work….
- I felt frustrated, overwhelmed, and burned out a good bit of today….
- Just thinking about work makes me feel sick to my stomach.
I know what it’s like to feel all of those things because I lifted these sentences from my first serious journal, which I kept between March 1993 and December 1994. (I say it’s a serious journal only to distinguish it from diaries with the little lock that I wrote in as a child. I wish I’d kept those and written journals throughout my life, but that’s another story.)
I started the journal after a meeting with a counselor from the Employee Assistance Program at my job with the IRS. I wrote:
I want to think about things that make me happy rather than dwell on those things that make me feel anxious, worried, depressed, etc.
I told the counselor, “I think this job is killing me.”
The counselor replied, “If you think that, it probably really is.”
The counselor said my relationship with my job/employer is unhealthy and destructive since I have been suffering from headaches, digestive problems, and an inability to get to sleep at night.
The counselor’s immediate answer to my problem is to find another job. I think I’ll try harder to do that very thing.
If you see yourself in my mirror, there’s hope!
I think many people want to leave their current jobs and pursue a voice-over career because they perceive voice-over to be a fast and easy way to make money. I’ve already covered the fallacy in this thinking in many other articles.
However, I found 4 quick lessons in my 1993 journal that may help you find happiness when you hate your job:
4/21/93 — [A fellow computer network administrator] and I had a discussion while in Nashville that we have lost professionalism in the eyes of others. The proliferation of PCs has caused other people to think that our profession doesn’t require special skills. [My boss’s] refusal to fund my classes only emphasizes that point to me.
LESSON 1: Most people immediately think they would be happy if they could change jobs or possibly even start a new career. Before you make an irrevocable and life-changing decision, read the article Every passion does not lead to a career choice. You need to figure out what is missing on your job and in your life, as well as ways to get it in your life.
If you do decide that a career change is necessary, accept that becoming a professional in ANY category requires time and money to gain the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary for that line of work. Malcolm Gladwell asserts in his book OUTLIERS that 10,000 hours – or approximately 5 years of 40-hour weeks – of dedicated practice is needed for anyone to reach the elite level of his or her field.
Of course, you can become an expert in your field with less than 10,000 hours of practice. I can’t say precisely how long it would take. I do know that success requires more effort than a weekend workshop.
Based on my experience in switching careers, I advise people to start their new career slowly and in a part-time capacity while still employed in the first career. It takes the pressure off you as you gain the skills to be successful in the new career. You can funnel money made in the first career into classes needed for the second. Through it all, you will feel happier knowing that you are taking active steps to live the life you envision.
7/12/93 – I did my first training session as a reader for the GA Radio Reading Service. I auditioned several weeks ago. On 6/30, the Director of Volunteers told me I had passed the audition. She said only about 35% of the people pass the audition. Since it consisted of 100 difficult vocabulary words, 2 newspaper articles, and a dramatic piece, I can believe the majority of people wouldn’t pass.
LESSON 2: Even voiceover — a career based on something as seemingly simple as talking — is not as easy as it looks! One way to gain valuable knowledge and experience is to volunteer for an organization.
My husband Drew is not the first person to parlay his volunteer gig into a paid position. You can read his inspiring story in the article 10 Law of Attraction principles in creating a job shift.
7/30/93 – The best thing that happened all week was seeing Barry Manilow in concert tonight! He was on his “Greatest Hits…and More” tour. I had never seen him in concert…I was so excited at my first glimpse of Barry….The more Manilow I hear, the more Manilow I want to hear!
LESSON 3: Your career is only one aspect of your life. Find a new hobby that brings you joy. That joy will overflow into every other aspect of your life, including the job. If it’s an expensive hobby (like traveling to see 51 Barry Manilow concerts in 20 cities!), you’ll feel greater appreciation and gratitude for the job that funds the hobby.
8/11/93 – I went to the [literacy] tutor workshop last night. They are matching students and tutors starting today. I’m anxious to get started with it.
LESSON 4: This lesson may seem like the same thing as #2, but it’s not. Item #2 was to volunteer for organization to gain experience you need. Item #4 is to take the focus off yourself and your problems, and instead, help someone else solve their problem.
I’ve read that one way to achieve your dreams is to help someone else achieve their dream. You can help someone by volunteering for an organization or just in a one-on-one capacity where you see a need. Helping someone else helps make the world a better place for all of us.
Your career is a series of decisions and an evolutionary process. Your job may add to your happiness, but it’s isn’t the source of your happiness. You can CHOOSE to be happy every day, even at a job that doesn’t fulfill you.
In an upcoming article, I’ll share some lessons I’ve learned about dealing with criticism. In the meantime, do you have tips about staying happy? I’d love to get your comments on the blog!