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4 Questions to Ask Yourself If You Find Yourself in a Career Funk

Topics: Career Advice

Starting a new job can make you feel like you’re a kid again. You never thought you’d be this excited about going to work, but then again, this job’s different – it’s “the one.” You work your butt off to impress your bosses, and they love you because you’re the first one in, last one out. However, after the honeymoon phase ends and everyone stops being so nice and accommodating, you begin to feel reality sinking in … again. You start having those all-too-familiar feelings of uncertainty and frustration: “I thought this time would be different.” The days roll into months, and you can’t seem to shake the feeling that something’s not quite right with your once dreamy 9-to-5. You might even feel like you chose the wrong job and career altogether. Before you decide all is lost, here are a few things you may want to consider.

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1. Are you self-sabotaging?

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Do you find that you beat yourself up every time your boss gives you feedback? Are you riddled with guilt when you have to pass on work because you’re maxed out already? Do you feel like a failure when you make a minor mistake? If so, then it sounds like you have a classic case of self-sabotage going on.

It’s easy to focus on all the mistakes or failures we make at work, but it’s incredibly important to also pay attention to the many, many times we actually do things right in our careers. Instead of beating yourself up over a mistake here and there, try to find the lesson to be learned from these instances. The only thing you’re doing by beating yourself up is sabotaging your mood, productivity, day, and career.

Part of being successful at work is learning how to muscle through the rough patches that are absolutely inevitable for each and every professional at some point in time. Don’t sulk or beat yourself up when something doesn’t go as planned at work; instead use it to make you a stronger and wiser professional.

2. Are you running yourself into the ground?

There’s a huge difference between going above and beyond in your career, and completely over-extending yourself. It’s very ambitious to want to work hard and prove yourself at your job, but try not to over-commit, because you might end up feeling overworked and underpaid.

What typically happens is these types of over-the-top employees will do anything and everything to get noticed and recognized by their bosses. What they don’t realize is that they’re completely overworking themselves and burning the candle from both ends – without even realizing that they’re doing this to themselves. When these bosses don’t reciprocate the level of praise or acknowledgment that these employees expect, they grow resentful. Rinse and repeat.

I’m not saying don’t work hard, but what I am saying is be fair to yourself and don’t overextend yourself at work. In other words, know your boundaries so you don’t burn out.

3. Are you letting the Negative Nancys get to you?

It’s pretty difficult to like your job if all you and your co-workers do all day is wallow in how much you hate your jobs. It’s true that many professionals, managers included, are unhappy and disengaged in their work, but I’m also a firm believer that there are far too many Negative Nancys in the workplace who impose their feelings onto anyone who will listen. Before you know it, you’ve been sucked in and are now part of the problem.

If you’re constantly feeding into the gossip and negativity at work, then I can guarantee you that it won’t be long before you begin to hate your job, too. This type of behavior will slowly become an everyday occurrence and eat away at your productivity and well-being. It can even make you think you hate your job, when, in reality, it’s the negativity talking.

4. Are you doing it for the money, and not the passion?

It’s easy to get hung up on money when it comes to your career, because, like your mother always said, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” Of course you want to earn a decent income in order to live a certain lifestyle, however, try not to let money/compensation be the center of your career’s universe.

Recent research shows that professionals nowadays value fulfillment and enjoyment in their work, over money. In fact, a recent poll conducted by Thomson Reuters found that 70 percent of today’s professionals prefer a job that they enjoy, rather than a job that pays well. What’s more, a separate study conducted by Accenture found that 15 percent of professionals from the class of 2015 said they’d rather work at a company with a positive social atmosphere and receive a lower salary, than receive higher pay at a company that is less fun.

The moral of the story is: if you’re doing a job that pays well but you really don’t enjoy it, then you’re probably going to grow bored of that job sooner than later. If you’ve ever been in that situation or know someone who has, then you have a fond respect for the old adage, “Money doesn’t buy happiness.” Therefore, find a career that incorporates your passions and is fulfilling, because that’s worth more than money.

Final Thoughts

One thing to remember is that work isn’t going to be enjoyable all the time, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be fulfilling and rewarding most of the time. Use the list above to help you assess whether you need to take a step back and reevaluate your job and career path, or whether you simply need to make some adjustments mentally to help you gain a clearer, more appreciative perspective of your current job and its potential.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you ever encountered a career funk and successfully navigated through it? Share your story with our community on Twitter, or leave a comment below.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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Basing your satisfaction on a job or, more accurately, on your role, coworkers, manager, leadership, etc. will almost always lead to dissatisfaction. Nor is it probable that one can love what they do as long as they are constrained by their boss, the quality of the processes and systems they work within, the culture, and the many other factors that shape their daily daily experience. A more balanced approach is to the job in the perspective in the context of… Read more »

Kathy A
Kathy A

I have taken 2 jobs because the salary was generous; I ended up leaving both because the work was not enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong I love money, but I have learned it can’t be my only reason for taking a job.

Kathy A
Kathy A

This is a great article. These are great questions to ask before making a change.

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