Changing Careers | Center for Growth Therapy

Changing Careers

Alex , CAS, MSW, ACSW, LCSW — Founder & executive director


Therapist topic experts

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Jordan Pearce, MA, LAC, NCC

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"Alex" Caroline Robboy, CAS, MSW, ACSW, LCSW (Founder)

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Job Satisfaction: Things To Think About Before Changing Careers

Scenario 1 - changing careers

So you start at a new job, maybe your first job in a real career. You fill in all the paperwork, go through training, and get down to work. But after a few weeks go by, you begin to feel disillusioned. This isn’t what you signed up for! You feel irritable, and begin to resent the idea of going to work. You start thinking, “you know, I set my standards too low and settled during my job hunt, I can do better than this.”

Scenario 2 - changing careers

You’ve been at job for a while now when some promotions happen in the upper levels. Suddenly you have a new boss. And it seems like all he wants to do is try to change things. Get-togethers outside of work for “team-building exercises?” Job Satisfaction surveys? Who cares about this stuff anyway? It seems like a huge waste of time, and you wish he would just leave you alone to get on with your job in peace.

Scenario 3 - changing careers

You feel like you’re in rut: for a few years now, you’ve lived in the same place in Philadelphia, driven the same car, been with the same significant other, and worked at the same job. The more you think about your job, the more it seems like menial drudgery, the same thing every day. First your girlfriend won’t pay any attention to you, now the boss too? Great. You feel like no one appreciates you in this office, (or anywhere else for that matter), and you start to seriously think about quitting.

These people have two things in common. The first thing, obviously, is that they feel anger, resentment, and frustration with their job. And with the way they are headed, it looks like they may all be looking for a new job in the near future. However, the second thing they have in common is that they all need to step back from the situation and have a long, close look at themselves and the rest of their lives before making any big decisions.

IS YOUR JOB THE REAL PROBLEM? - changing careers

To get along day by day, people rationalize their world, and categorize it. They ask questions, they find answers, and they learn. This is just human nature – we are thinking, rational beings, and we like a sense of order to the world. However, sometimes we feel unhappy or uncomfortable and there isn’t a reason readily available. Maybe the cause is something about ourselves, and we don’t want to face it. Maybe it’s subconscious. Maybe there is a problem in our life that we can’t bring ourselves to admit. But even when we can’t bring the cause up to the surface, that dissatisfaction is still there, and we need an explanation.

All too often, we blame our jobs.

There are plenty of legitimate reasons for job dissatisfaction, or for leaving a job / changing careers. Maybe you no longer enjoy your work, maybe the salary can no longer support your lifestyle, maybe you’ve gotten a better offer. Unfortunately, many people immediately think their job is the problem when really it’s something deeper and closer to home, something else going on in their life that they can’t quiet face or admit. This can lead to quitting a job prematurely or for the wrong reasons, and can cause all sorts of problems. Before you quit a job, you should consider the statements below. Each one is a common reason cited for leaving a job, and below it is another interpretation for what this explanation could really mean. Looking over these statements can help you to determine if work is really the problem, or if there is something else you need to be working on.

Problem: My job isn’t what I want.
Interpretation: What I really want is unrealistic.

This is especially common for new graduates or people just entering a new profession. They may have unrealistic expectations about how high up in the company they can start, what responsibilities and privileges they will get right away, or what their salary should be. If you just started at a newspaper, you will probably not get your own column. Be realistic about your expectations, and try to see through your employers point of view on why you are treated different than employees who have been with the company for five years.

Problem: This new job isn’t right for me.
Interpretation: It isn’t what I expected.

Be willing to give new jobs a chance! Very few jobs exactly match the idea you have in your head, but that doesn’t mean that you can fit in and have a good degree of job satisfaction. Give it some time before you give up on a job.

Problem: I hate my new boss.
Interpretation: I’m uncomfortable with the changes I’m facing.

If you’ve worked with a single system and a single group of people for a while, it can be hard to adjust to a change in that situation. Many people’s gut reaction is to feel that they have been fine so far, so any changes are an unnecessary annoyance. But just because new ideas and new methods are coming into your workplace doesn’t mean they are bad, and just because an old system worked doesn’t mean it can’t be improved upon. In addition, if you have a new boss or even a new coworker, it may take him or her some time to adjust to the company dynamic as well. Be willing to approach change with an open mind.

Problem: I don’t get along with my coworkers.
Interpretation: I feel angry about something, and I bring that anger and annoyance to work with me.

When you just feel angry in general, it’s easier to direct that anger at people you work with than at people in your personal life. You need to step back and think about what you actually have against your coworkers. What about them bothers you? Have they actually done anything? Do you interact with them with a willingness to work together and cooperate? If you really can’t pinpoint anything specific in this area, then it’s time to have a look at your personal life. Chances are good that your coworkers really haven’t done anything wrong, at that something else is bothering you.

Problem: I don’t get enough credit on the job.
Interpretation: People in my personal life ignore me, so I feel very sensitive to it at work.

The roots of this problem are similar to the one above. Maybe you have a significant other or family members who you feel don’t give you enough attention. This can make you oversensitive, and feel that you are being ignored at work when you’re really just being treated like everyone else. The answer is not to blame your job, but to confront the person in your life who generated these feelings in the first place.

Problem: If I quit my job, it will fix everything.
Interpretation: I’m not satisfied with my life, but my job is the only thing I really know how to change.

This is not an uncommon situation. Someone is going through the end of a relationship, dealing with the death of a loved one, adjusting to a child leaving home, or just feels like they are in a rut. These are issues that have deep emotion effects and can be difficult to face, so often all these negative feelings get tacked onto the job – even if that job has been a perfectly happy one for years. This is because if you decide your job is making you unhappy, you can just quit, but it’s much more difficult to deal with the personal issues that may really be causing the problem. In fact, quitting your job will probably only add to your problems.

Now, none of this is to say that there is no such thing as a legitimate problem in your work-life. Job satisfaction is very important, and can vastly effect how satisfied you are with your life. In addition, sincere difficulties in your relationships with bosses and coworkers, or with a lack of recognition or support in the workplace, are issues that you have every right to address. However, it is important to make sure that you are being honest with yourself and your motives are clear before you take a huge step like quitting your job. The key is to be honest with yourself. If you are having negative feelings, particularly if there is something serious or problematic in your personal life, it is a good idea to take a long look outside the workplace before you decide that your job is the problem.

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