As a women's work-life expert and career coach, I work with hundreds of professionals each year, giving me a birds-eye view into what contributes to career and work-life misery. And as a Forbes and Huffington Post blogger on career issues and trends, the comments I receive on my career posts offer a deep and revealing look at what thousands are feeling today about their jobs and careers.
Several weeks ago, a piece of mine about the 5 Core Steps to a More Satisfying Career landed on the front page of Yahoo, and the hundreds of comments received reflected such bitterness, anger, rage and self-victimization that I was truly taken back.
So many people today feel hopeless and trapped in jobs they hate. But the reality is whether you are a corporate professional, self-employed or in transition or need to find a different way to work, there are proactive and effective steps you can take to change your career and your professional life. You're trapped only if you think you are. I've helped people in far worse situations and conditions than yours make amazingly powerful life and career changes.
Below are the top five reasons I've found that so many women are dissatisfied and unfulfilled at work, along with concrete tips to revise your situation and change course today.
The Top 5 Reasons Women Are Miserable At Work:
1. Struggling and failing to balance work and family
2. Suffering from chronic financial distress
3. Using skills and talents that aren't "natural," interesting or easy
4. Feeling chronically undervalued and disrespected
5. Experiencing no excitement, joy or positive meaning in their work
If the above describes your experience, below are some key tips to help you create an internal shift away from feeling trapped and disempowered, to feeling more confident, courageous and committed to making positive career change today.
Tips for Shifting Away from Work Misery:
1) Fight for Work-Life Balance
I'm sorry to say that work-life balance is not going to just fall in your lap. Women today are still doing 2/3 of the domestic and child care responsibilities at home, even when both partners work full-time. You have to claim work-life balance, fight for it and commit to getting it. How? First, determine the three most important priorities you have in life and work. What are the three things that matter most to you in life and work? What will you give up anything for? Formulate these in terms of "to be" statements such as "to be a loving mother" or "to be a successful entrepreneur" or "to be an inspiring leader."
Uncover the three top achievements that you are longing to bring about in your life and work and that you will not compromise on. Then commit yourself to these 300 percent. Discover where you are over-functioning (doing more than is necessary, more than is healthy and more than is appropriate) in your life, your family and work, and let go of being perfect in the areas that don't matter as much to you. Once you take these steps, you'll find that balance comes more easily to you, because you are committed to doing what it takes to get what you want and courageous enough to live with the consequences.
2) Grow Stronger with Your Money
To get out of chronic financial distress, you must become intimately connected with your money and begin to recognize your real intrinsic worth. First, create a solid budget with strong financial goals, and stick to it. Examine your spending -- are you buying things in order to soothe your soul? If that describes you, find new ways to stop over-spending. Look at your beliefs around money that you learned as a child from living with your family. Are your beliefs about money positive or negative, expansive or constricting? Do you believe you don't deserve wealth and abundance, or are you ashamed of the money you have or don't have?
Overall, the key to overcoming chronic financial distress is to heal and empower your relationship with money through positive and healthy beliefs, actions, and choices. Once you create a supportive money relationship, you will no longer stay in jobs that create financial distress or drain you of joy and energy. You'll know your worth and begin claiming it, on your professional path and elsewhere.
3) Use Skills and Talents That Are Fun and Natural
It's vitally important to understand exactly which talents and skills are easy and fun for you to use, and then find a way (either in your existing job or in a new field or job) to tap these talents more frequently at work. To get more in touch with what you love to do and what comes easily, take my free Career Path Self-Assessment Survey. Figure out what you want to do more of, less of and never again. Often, what you love to do and what comes easily to you were apparent in your childhood, so start there. What did you thoroughly enjoy as a kid that people noticed, admired and praised? You might realize that just because you're great at a task or endeavor doesn't mean you like to do it. The key to an easier and happier work-life is to use talents that come naturally and are fun to you, so that each day feels more joyful and like less of a struggle.
4) Claim Your Self-Respect
If you're chronically undervalued or mistreated at work and want people to change their treatment of you, you must start with SELF-respect. How do you gain self-respect? Through courageous action that inspires your own self-esteem -- action that you know you should be taking, but haven't found the nerve to take. Now is the time to become more authoritative, powerful and commanding in your work. Speak up about who you are and what's important to you. Make yourself right, not wrong. If you know something needs to be communicated, figure out a way to do it as soon as possible. Find an advocate or mentor at work to help you speak up in the right ways so that you will be heard and respected for your viewpoint. Start enforcing your boundaries so that you know exactly what you will tolerate and accept from others, and what you won't.
5) Do More Work that Brings Joy and Meaning
It's a myth in our culture that we can't make money doing what we love. However, it takes grit, determination and courage to pursue a path that you love and to make it work for you financially. If you want more joy and meaning -- and financial success at the same time -- determine what endeavors and activities make you joyful in your life, and begin today to bringing these forward in your current line of work. The key is to understand 1) the essence of what you want, and then 2) find the right form of it that fits your life and your values and needs well.
Start by doing research, research, research -- interview people in the field, read all about the direction you're interested and shadow an individual in the role. Take classes, find a mentor and determine a way to "try it on' before you leap. If you want a different job than your current one, participate in a powerful networking and instructional program like Mediabistro's Job Search Boot Camp that will teach you (in a short four weeks) the core steps to landing a new job you'll love. Don't make any more excuses -- you CAN do this.
The Ultimate Goal: Career Satisfaction
True career bliss might be a high bar to achieve, but career satisfaction isn't. It's up to you to create a career that you love, and you deserve to love your work. Let the top five reasons most women are miserable at work be the catalyst you need to change your career and change your life. Trust me on this one ... once you step up to creating a new career that excites you, you'll reach new heights you never thought possible.
What 's your top reason for hating your work?