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

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

Hate your job but not sure why or what to do? (And what if it pays well?) Let’s talk about this. I 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? I should probably stick it out. But I’m so drained…”

image of a swirl of question marks

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

If you feel drained or you sometimes hear yourself say “I hate my job,” something needs to change. That won’t go away if nothing changes. Even if it pays well, you’ll still run out of steam.

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 have 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. And depression can be real and can cloud judgement. (That happened to me!) But you and I are not broken, no matter what.

Yes, the first 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 indefinitely.

white water section
A white water section on the river is OK sometimes, but not all the time.

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.

If you’re a highly sensitive person (HSP), like I am, the consequences of a harsh situation can be especially hard on us. I was SO exhausted in the wrong job, and my brain just couldn’t get into gear in the way some part of me knew it could.

No, you’re not “too sensitive.” You have important gifts and you need the right environment for them to flow. It’s OK to want what you actually need. When it flows, it’s amazing!

How much stress is too much? This might help:

It’s one thing to feel tired and mentally worn down at the end of a busy workday, especially if you’re a sensitive person. It’s another thing entirely to experience chronic overstimulation on the job. Also pay attention to the physical sensations in your body. Do you regularly experience muscle aches and tension, an upset stomach, a tight feeling in your chest, trouble sleeping, pain, or fatigue? If these symptoms don’t have a clear physical cause (such as an illness or an infection), then they may be another way your body is trying to communicate with you.”

~ Jenn Granneman and Andre Sólo, in their book, Sensitive.

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. That was so eye-opening for me. A career coach helped me 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. Could be the right field, wrong boss. But even that is not enough to know for sure about the right or wrong field. Keep mining the data.

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.

In my case, I needed a different line of work and a different place altogether. It even solved my depression to start letting in new possibilities. Eventually I chose self-employment (which can work for introverts and HSPs).

“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 posts:

Learn more about walking through the steps for career clarity.

Picture of 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.
Val Nelson | Coaching | Groups | Courses | Newsletter | LinkedIn

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