Career Advice

August 16, 2009

Love it, don't leave it: When quitting isn't an option, get more out of your job

Special to NWjobs

Love your job


We’ve all heard the old adage “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade."

If the lemon in your life is your current job, Seattle-based career coach and motivational speaker Curt Rosengren says you should also take note of where your juice comes from.

“The first thing I suggest to someone [who is in a job he or she dislikes] is to do some self-exploration to see where their energy -- their juice -- comes from,” says Rosengren. “Rather than just looking at those things you like doing, examine why you like doing them.

“For example, I may like to cook because of A, B and C, while you might like it because of X, Y and Z,” he says. “As you start examining the things you like doing, you’ll see common themes. Make a summary list of these key energizers and see how your current position stacks up. It gives you a way to objectively look at what’s going on.”

That can help you bring more of what you like to your job. “If you get a lot of energy from bouncing ideas off people but your work is really solo-focused, see if you can do something like instigate group lunches,” Rosengren suggests.

What you do off the clock can help sustain or increase your job satisfaction as well.

“Maintain your vitality by participating in activities outside of work that you enjoy -- I enjoy kayaking, for instance,” says Mary Jane Pioli, an executive coach and owner of M.J. Pioli and Company. “Make sure you are filling your cup with something you like to do.”

Rosengren and Pioli agree on several keys to avoid getting stuck in an unfulfilling job -- and how to get unstuck, too.

Stay objective

Both recommend being wary of what Rosengren calls “the story you tell yourself.”

“When you feel you’re not in the right place, you tend to paint things in black and white. The reality is, most jobs have some good and some bad on varying levels,” says Rosengren. Taking a more objective look at your job, he says, allows you to make a positive change.

Pioli agrees. “People get overloaded on what they don’t like. Instead, see if you can spend more of your time and effort in those areas that energize you. One, you’ll spend more time doing what you enjoy, and two, you’ll be more effective in your job overall.”

Make connections

One of the best ways to get unstuck is to get connected -- with others. “Most businesses are relationship-focused first and task-focused second,” says Pioli. “Are there relationships you can build on or improve now? You can make a job more interesting by working on those relationships and not just focusing on the task at hand.”

She says that developing and maintaining your connections now will help when the job market does come back: “Those people who maintained their relationships through networking are the ones employers are going to think of when they are hiring.”

Take action

In the end, there is no better time than now to begin creating your perfect job.

“Some just wait for the situation to be perfect before taking action. That’s really a recipe for staying stuck,” says Rosengren. “Simply commit to moving forward. Just the fact that you are doing something about it will help shift your perception. You will feel more empowered.

“Take action; take control. Put your hands on the proverbial steering wheel and make some changes. If you don’t, nothing is going to change.”

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Tom on September 12, 2009 10:17 PM | Reply

Yes, stay in your crappy and job and make yourself more miserable. Wake up America, happiness is a choice, a state of mind. If your bills are too high and you can't leave this horrible job behind, next time "think before you ink". Maybe then instead of slaving through the hard times in some unfortunate circumstance you could do something you actually enjoy. Wow there's a thought!

Job=misery. Career=passion. This lady sniffed the Krazy glue before she was interviewed for this article.

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