"My job is soul-crushing - it's killing me!" If there was an award for the most frequently used phrase by consultants (after "Pls fix") it would be this one! And yet, year after year after year, I find people in those jobs that are killing them from the inside, carrying on. Struggling, but carrying on. Why?
Because it pays the bills. Because it at least looks good on paper. And really because "I've no idea what I to do with my life!" Is that you?
Hi friend, meet Sudeshna from 2016. I am speaking to you from my time machine. I have no motivation. My job is meaningless. I don't know what to do with my life. I've been crying in the hotel bathrooms regularly, wondering why I couldn't just be happy with a career most others would trade an arm and leg to have.
I got to tell you, with every cell in my body, I wanted to give up. I was travelling Mondays to Thursdays every week. Living the consulting life. Once in a while getting to hear a Ted talk or read the Economist, while commuting, but mostly, just working. Day after day after day. And no, the Points Guy would not be able to fix this! I was broken... yet I had no idea what to do.
If that's you, listen up. Burnout is real. The struggle to find joy in your work is 100% on point. And feeling unmotivated by big promotions and fancy titles is valid. But if you've been wondering how on earth you're going to navigate this, I've good news for you - it's possible. Because I did it. And if I can, you can. You don't need Gary Vee to tell you this, you know this!
So if you're really interested in solutions, I've got a task for you, which will put you a step closer to clearing up the confusion.
1. Make a list of all the things that you enjoy doing in life
I am a data person. I understand facts and numbers. And when it comes to informing your career and life choices, there is no better source of data than your life. So think about what gives you energy. What's the thing that you feel doesn't seem like work? You might not even have noticed it all but from time to time your tell yourself, if only I could just do it, I'd be happy. And remember, this doesn't need to be one single thing. It could be that you enjoy photography. And writing code. And cooking. While spending time with kids. Note down everything.
2. Make a list of all the things that you detest doing for your job
What are the things that make your job boring for you? What makes you say "my job is killing me?" Note down every single thing. Yes, if you want to include the social banter and small talk over coffee, that's totally fine too. Just note it down.
3. Make a list of all the things that you are good at
What are your strengths? What are the things that you effortlessly do, while others struggle to understand how you did it? (For me, it was being a consultant- not kidding!!) If you are drawing a blank, ask your friends, family, colleagues... and try to map them out against all the things that give you energy. Now you're closer to magic than you were before!
4. Make a list of jobs that require your strengths and feed you with some energy
It might not be obvious at first as to what skills, strengths and jobs can be combined. Little did I know that I could combine my creative writer side with my business side to make money on the internet. And do this while having a day job in data science. But with introspection and research comes clarity. Even if they are not immediately apparent to you, keep at it - get creative, network, read, research, find a coach, get a mentor. Just don't give up on yourself.
I think you know where I am going with this... but you don't! Because you see, just because creativity and helping the poor gives you energy, doesn't mean that you have to be Banksy. You could be a bunch of things including:
Working on consulting decks (Ha! Just joking! Or am I?) for Non-profits
Apply design-thinking to solve pressing social and economic problems
Write code to create music. Or art! And have a fund that you donate to every month
Marketing for a Non-profit
Start a creative gig on the side and donate a portion to charity
5. Map these to your values
Do you care about helping the society? Or maybe you don't care about the global warming and environmental sustainability and just care about the dollars. Map these out - these are your motivators. (Also please never talk to me if you say profit over sustainability - you and I won't get along well!)
Now you may notice really interesting things like I did. I want to be helpful to society at large but I knew that my business and quantitative brain needed to optimise and work at a corporate job. So, I got really creative with The Abundance Psyche and set it up to help people (with their careers) and also to help the less fortunate through charity (Currently 10% of all sales of The Abundance Psyche go towards charity.) What I am saying is, you can design your life and career the way you want it.
These obviously are just ideas of things that are possible. But you get the point, right? So let me know what do you want to do next?