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Wrong Field? Wrong Place? Is It Me? What To Change When It Feels Bad at Work.

image of a swirl of question marksI heard this the other day, and I realize I’ve heard something like it many times:

I can’t tell if I should stick it out at this job or look for something new? It’s only been a couple years and it took so much to get here, so maybe I’ll just get better at it? But I’m so drained…”

I’m just gonna tell you like it is, like what I told her.

If you feel drained, something needs to change. That won’t go away if nothing changes.

Especially after a couple years in her case, that’s enough data to know something is off. The body doesn’t lie.

Change doesn’t have to mean you leave that job. There could be a middle ground between just stay the course as is, and leave. But for sure something needs to change in this case. I’ll say it again. The body knows.

I’ll explain how to figure it out in this post. It could be easier than you think.

First of all, it’s NOT you.

You’re not broken. You don’t need to fix yourself. Yes, we can all grow and build our strengths over time. But you are not broken, no matter what.

Yes, the first six months or year of a new role at work or starting a new business is hard, like a white water section when riding on a river. But it shouldn’t stay in that off-kilter feeling forever.

white water section

No one can sustain that without consequences. In fact, when something is draining, it gets worse over time. Plus it’s not how you can do your best work in the world. And your gifts matter.

Let’s not fix ourselves to fit external circumstances. That never works.

If you are down on yourself and think you should be fixing yourself, then you don’t yet understand your wonderful talents, which everyone has. In that case, it’s time to clarify your strengths. (A career coach can help you with that.)

How to know what needs to change.

How do you know if it’s the wrong field, the wrong team, the wrong structure, the wrong hours, the wrong self-care before and after work…?

Yep, there’s a lot of puzzle pieces to discover and put together. So the overview answer is that if you feel drained, it’s time to look at the puzzle pieces, mine the data, and see where you get drained, and where you feel energized.

If you feel drained every time you have to meet with your boss, well, that’s telling.

If you feel happy when you meet with clients but not when you’re dealing with the externally imposed break-neck speed of things, that’s telling too. That sounds like it could be the right field but the wrong structure.

OK, now we’re on to something.

But finding something better is hard…

You might be saying, “Sure I’d like a different structure or a different kind of job, but finding that is no small thing.”

Yes, I grant you that. But please also grant me these two things:

  1. It’s worth finding out which piece(s) of the puzzle are causing the “off” feeling. When you know that, you know what to change in your next work.
  2. If you don’t even let yourself know what might work better for you, how will you know if it’s possible to find or not? (In other words, it’s worth knowing and then you can explore to find out.)

These are the kinds of things people see a career coach to figure out — the what and the how of it all.

You can keep reading to help you figure out more of it yourself, such as with the following previous posts:

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Val Nelson

Val Nelson

I’ve been a self-employed career/business/purpose coach since 2009. I help introverts and HSPs (like me) who want to make a difference — in a way that fits our practical needs too.
[More about Val, coaching, and courses.]

I appreciate feedback, good and bad. You can comment below or contact me privately.

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