Mind & Body

The Art of Work

Being unhappily employed can ruin your physical and emotional well-being. How do you find a way to do the job you love and love the job you do?
The Art of Work
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1. "I'm sure there's something else I'd like to do. I'm just not sure what it is." One way to clarify your situation is by taking a truth inventory: What is it that you like or dislike about your job? Have you had any great days at work? What made them so? Recall why you took the job in the first place. Were you passionate about certain aspects? Have they changed--or have you? "Three-quarters of Americans are unhappy with their jobs, but typically they aren't exactly sure why," says Connecticut-based career coach Julie Jansen, author of I Don't Know What I Want, But I Know It's Not This. Yes, you may dislike your boss or your company, but "it may be something else that you haven't even thought about before," she says.

To find out what's missing, Jansen suggests a period of self-reflection. "You need to understand yourself from a values standpoint. What are your real interests? What skills do you have, or would you like to acquire? Most people never get a clear picture of their desires. They just say, 'I'm unhappy, so I'd better go look for a job.' And then they don't necessarily make the right choices." If you're confused about your career options, explore what you find enjoyable outside of work, advises Massachusetts-based personal coach Cheryl Richardson, author of Stand Up for Your Life. Ask yourself the following questions: If your local bookstore could only have one section, which one would you hope they'd keep? Who are the passionate people around you, and what are they doing with their lives? What career would you like your children to pursue? Is that because you'd really like to pursue it yourself? Do you frequently date people with careers in a certain area? Is it possible that the career attracts you as much as the person does? If you won the lottery and were able to quit your job today, what would you do with your time?

Once you've determined what your real passions are, you can begin looking into careers that incorporate them. "Give yourself the space to try things out," says Richardson. "You may think you'd love a certain thing, but you don't when you actually do it. Other activities you'll love more than yon thought you would." There's no shame in changing careers more than once, she adds. "One study found that some people do it as many as seven times over the course of a lifetime."