Last week, I held a free teleclass for women on the “5 Reasons You’re Miserable at Work and What To Do About It,” based on key findings from my national research with scores of working women across the country and my book Breakdown, Breakthrough. More than 90 women signed up for the call, and they confirmed yet again what so many women have been unable able to say out loud until now, which is, “I’m unhappy at work, but I’m not sure exactly why or what to do about it!”
Whether you are a corporate professional, self-employed or in transition, if you need to find a different way to work, don’t worry. Help is on the way! And you’re definitely not alone.
Below are what I’ve found to be the top five reasons 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 many women are miserable at work are –
They find it impossible to balance work and family
- They suffer from chronic financial distress
- They struggle using skills and talents that aren’t “natural” to them
- They feel chronically undervalued and disrespected
- They experience little joy or positive meaning in their work
If the above describes your experience, here are some 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 (and feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like a download of the recording of the call).
Tips for Positive Career Change:
1) Gain More Work-Life Balance
Balance is not going to just fall in your lap. You have to claim it, and commit to getting it. How? First, determine the three most important priorities you are committed to achieving in your personal and in your professional life. What are the three things that are vital to you to bring about — that matter more than anything else? Formulate these in terms of “to be” statements such as “to be a loving mother or “to be a successful entrepreneur” or “to be a helper of others.”
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. 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 doing too much and 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 being guided each day by the knowledge of what you want to create, and knowing you are 1000% committed to doing it.
2) Get Healthy 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 so, 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 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 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 otherwise.
3) Use Skills that Are Fun and Natural –
It’s vitally important to understand exactly what 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 Assessment. 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 also realize in doing this exercise that just because you’re great at a task or endeavor at work 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 like a joy, not 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’s the time to become more authentic and real 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 way 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) Find Work that Gives Your Life Joy and Meaning
It’s a myth in our culture that we can’t make good 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. The key is to understand 1) the essence of what you want, and then 2) find the right form of it. For instance, you might love to sing (as I do), and wonder if singing to earn money would make you happy. To find out if a new path is right for you, research, research, research – interview people in the field, read all about the art and craft of singing professionally, take classes, find a mentor, and determine a way to “try it on’ before you leap. You might discover that earning money singing as a full-time living isn’t for you, but you love to do on a part-time or hobby basis. If that’s the case, join a volunteer or community singing group each week, and honor this as a heart-aligned endeavor.
If you discover that you want a different line of work from your current job, create a plan that allows you to 1) research thoroughly what you want to do, 2) “try it on” as a volunteer or on part-time basis, then 3) commit to moving toward this new path with a solid financial plan, support of family and friends (and a coach if you’d like one), along with a step-by-step blueprint for what it will take to reinvent your career.
The Ultimate Outcome – Joy!
It’s up to you to create a career that you love, and you can do it! Start today. Let the top five reasons you’re miserable at work be the catalyst you need to change your career and change your life. Trust me on this one…when you step up to a path of building a career you love, you’ll expand to new heights you never thought possible.