9 to 5 Culture, Job Misery Support

When No Job Fits

A long while back I wrote a post about the differences between just taking a job just to pay the bills while enjoying hobbies on the side and striving for a career you love.

But what if you’ve tried many different paths, have a strong desire to do something you truly love with your life, but nothing seems to fit?

When There is No Satisfying Career for You

We all need to work, right? Yes. This is true. Why? Even people who have found a way to generate a livable income through their own means (starting a business) or even automate income to a great extent have had to work hard to get that place. Even Tim Ferris, author of “The 4 Hour Work Week,” who I have mentioned in this blog about 15 times, had to put in many 80-hour weeks before he made the discovery that he could outsource all his labor to India. Still, I don’t believe he would be where he is today if he was afraid of work.

So the short and simple answer to this question for our purposes will be yes.

The Next Step

This is perhaps the most crucial point in determining what kind of work you should do. Assuming you understand that you have to work (be it for your entire life or for 14 months), you are “free” to determine your path. I am not talking about “path” in terms of career though. Here is what I mean, with four examples:

  1. You could devote your time and energy to starting a business
  2. You could pick a career that you can live with and won’t make you miserable
  3. You can learn to accept the job/career you have and find happiness from outside work
  4. You could devote time and energy to starting a bunch of money-making online projects (or one project) with the intent to generate livable income eventually.

Have you ever heard of the phrase “It’s better to succeed at something you hate than fail at something you love?” Neither have I. But many of us do just this.

Of the four options above, the 4th has the smallest chance of being a successful one, because it’s difficult to pull off no matter how talented you may be. The odds that you’ll actually be able to generate a livable income this way without a lot of effort and luck are really bad.

The third one has the greatest chance for “success” but aren’t you just succeeding at something you hate? Isn’t this the reason you are on my website?

So we are left with two options. Start a business, or pick a career that will not make you miserable. I also advocate for working on side projects while choosing one of the first two options because one or many of them MIGHT work out. But you should never put all your eggs into this basket by only choosing this option.

Choosing Your Next Career Move

Many of us make the false assumption that there is a perfect career out there for you. It just isn’t true. This is a very important fact to understand, and will eliminate much career confusion if you incorporate it into your line of thinking. Nothing you do will be perfect. Many people who are having trouble finding a career mistakenly think that there is a perfect career out there for them waiting to be discovered.

Nor are you too “good” for a certain career. If you notice yourself thinking “I could never be a secretary” just because to you that is a low-level job, work on changing your perspective. It is more productive to think “I could never be a secretary” because you don’t like working with details and phones. Don’t be elitist about careers. Everyone has to start somewhere.

What you do need to do is examine at your skill set, ask yourself what careers that utilize your skills set are realistic, imagine yourself actually working in this field (40+ hours per week to start!) and then decide if you want to start a business or switch careers, or both.

Sometimes you have to try something out for a short time to see if it fits well enough. I recently spoke with someone who is interested in teaching, but isn’t sure if she will like it or not. I made the suggestion that she try teaching at a community college at night once a week to see if she likes it. This will help guide her further in deciding if teaching professionally is something she will be reasonably good at and enjoy, while allowing her to keep her day job.

But she would be making a mistake if she jumped right into teaching, hoped it fit her well, discovered that it isn’t all what she thought, then quit early, more discouraged than before. Sometimes you have to give things a fair chance to see what works. You also need some discretion.

I’ll repeat these important steps again:

  1. Look at your skill set
  2. Picture yourself working daily and decide if you would reasonably enjoy a certain career
  3. Figure out what you need to do to enter this field/career

For example: if you are a creative person, love people, and find that an educational environment feels good to you, you could consider becoming a career counselor. And it’s quite possible that the idea of being a career counselor may not be super-exciting to you. Maybe you have thought about it as a possibility, but dismissed it for one reason or another.

Follow Through

Sometimes you just have to pick a path and stick with it, seeing it through to the end. Even if it isn’t perfect at first, keep at it until you are absolutely sure you aren’t getting anywhere. Follow-through is under-rated. I should know; I’ve never achieved anything professionally without having worked at it for a long time. I’ll bet if you look back at your own life, you’ll find that this is also true of you.

Jumping around is exciting at first, but it wears a person down. Real freedom comes from finding something that fits well (NOT perfectly) working hard at it with a goal in mind, and seeing it through. You’ll escape these horrible office job or dead end career if you have the courage to examine what you would reasonably enjoy and make a commitment to following through.

Make a decision, even if it isn’t “perfect!”

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