07 Mar 2018 18:06 IST

If your job drains you out, replan your career

If your job drains you out, replan your career | Alan O'Rourke/Flickr BL on Campus

Our career choices need not be between more miserable and less miserable ones

Let’s face it — not all of us are lucky enough to land a job that meets our (reasonable) expectations and makes us happy. Despite the ‘Thank God, it’s Monday!’ bashes that several companies organise now-a-days, many employees struggle to find comfort and happiness.

You could well be one of them.

We are not talking about those who suffer from ‘captious complex’ — a tendency to keep cribbing all the time for petty matters. Such people are often jovially referred to as ‘CAVE’ dwellers; because they are Constantly Against Virtually Everything!

Pressure cooker environment

But there are situations when there is too much emotional drain, which leads to disengagement and unhappiness. It is always better to leave such a toxic workplace and find a job elsewhere.

It is, however, not as easy as it sounds. For most of us, waning job fulfilment is not easily discernible; it is clouded by the daily demands and expectations put upon us. After all, organisations are trying to do more with less (people, resources, time) and this creates a perfect ‘pressure cooker’ environment.

However, at some point in time, when you get a few moments to ponder, you realise that you are merely surviving — not thriving — in your job. This is perhaps the first sign that you are draining out and therefore, should replan your career, including your next job, sooner than later.

A crucial dilemma

There is another interesting paradox that presents itself. If you are busy and burning out and your energy levels are low, how are you going to make it to the next job or even find the time to prepare and give interviews? This dilemma has to be very carefully handled.

When you are confronted with it, more often than not, you are likely to choose the path of least difficulty. This you do by finding a position in the same field in another company. This is an obvious choice because your assessment is that you will most likely succeed in a similar role; and hopefully, the company you are choosing would be more comfortable and make you happy.

There is another reason for the choice made. This is what is now well-known as ‘sunk cost bias’. We mistakenly rationalise that since we have already invested heavily in the present job, to change course now would be a dumb move.

But the truth is, staying on the same job that depletes you — in other words, the cost of doing nothing different — can be more expensive.

Must-ask questions

Therefore, you need to ask yourself a bunch of questions, such as:

~ What is my personal mission?

~ What were my highs and lows in the current job?

~ When did I feel very engaged and very drained?

~ What are my top three or four values I cherish the most?

~ Where else could I invest my time and energy productively?

~ What are the obstacles (real and perceived) that stand in the way of my changing career?

~ What strengths can I draw on to do the transition successfully?

~ What transferable skills have I acquired over time?

These open-ended questions will help provoke creative thinking and hopefully, give you an opportunity to get in touch with your personal preferences and natural drives and motives.

It’s okay if you don’t arrive at clear answers for all of these questions overnight. But the more you think about them, the more clear it will become as to what it is that you want to do.

Holmes Rahe Stress Scale found that making a career change is one of the 20 most stressful things that happen in your life, just behind the death of a close friend. Therefore, using smart strategies like strategic networking, mastering a professional pitch and investing in a good career coach, can help.

After all, our career choices need not be between more miserable and less miserable ones. You can architect your career and a happy one at that.