The following guest post is by Hannah Sternberg, also known as “Banana” on DW.
Take a look at your career problems and replace the word “job” with “boyfriend.” You’ll be surprised by how similar your career issues are to some of the Dear Wendy letters that make you shake your head. With that in mind, much of the relationship advice we read on this site and elsewhere can be applied to our careers. Keep reading to see how your job angst can be resolved with five classic relationship tips.
1. Stop looking for your One True Job.
We tell women to stop obsessing over “the one” and instead see the world full of potential “ones,” so why don’t we apply that same line of thinking to careers, too? Why do many people continue searching for their One True Job? Even if you got what you’d describe as your “dream job,” there will still be days that feel like the clock got stuck at 3 PM for hours. On the other hand, there are probably some perfectly eligible jobs you might be overlooking because they’re not quite what you dreamed of doing ever since you got your CEO Barbie. Give them a second date, I mean chance. If you keep an open mind, you might be surprised by the job that steals your heart.
2. Your career can’t make you happy if you don’t know how to be happy on your own.
You have to make your own happiness. Your job (and boyfriend) are just along for the ride. You can’t just show up for a job and sit there passively, expecting it to make all your dreams come true. If you want cooler assignments or a big promotion, you have to acquire the skills you need to qualify and go for them. If you’re feeling bored or underutilized at work, find something to do! Don’t immediately blame the job for your unhappiness. Just like in your relationships, you have to bring something to the table — you have to contribute to your own success and your happiness.
3. If you aren’t finding the job you want, maybe you’re looking for jobs in all the wrong places.
If you date the same kind of guys over and over again, even when you know they’re not right for you, you’ll keep getting burned. Your job hunt is the same. Feeling frustrated after an endless string of fruitless interviews? Well, the common denominator is you, so adjust your expectations, or adjust yourself. Take a look at the jobs you’re applying for — do they all tend to require a skill or level of experience you don’t have? Try either focusing on the jobs you are qualified for, or working hard to acquire the skills that would qualify you for the job you want. But if you keep getting turned down, you’re not going to get anywhere by registering a letter of complaint with the universe.
4. Find important lessons in even dead-end jobs.
One way to mitigate the pain and bitterness of a breakup is to look back on the lessons you’ve learned and the good experiences you had in your former relationships. The same goes for jobs. Specifically, try to learn two things from every work experience you have. First, learn a new skill – try learn how to do something you didn’t know how to do before. Then, learn something about what you want, and don’t want, out of a job. Did you discover that you don’t like managing, or doing lab work, or customer interaction? Even a dead-end job can teach you something about yourself and what you need to keep in mind going forward.
5. Don’t stay in abusive jobs, no matter how good they look on paper.
People in abusive relationships are often manipulated by their abusers into feeling guilty for leaving, as if they’re the crazy ones. Abusive bosses are pretty good at that, too. They’re different traumas, but in both abusive relationships and abusive job situations, it’s important to remember that no amount of positive attributes can compensate for the abuse. Does this mean you should quit your job in a blind fury, with no backup plan? No. But it does mean that you need to realize you don’t owe your horrible boss another month/year/decade, and you aren’t an ungrateful pest for looking for other jobs.
In jobs and relationships, it all boils down to the same things: making, and maintaining, your happiness is your own responsibility. So get out there and stir things up!
Hannah Sternberg is an author, freelance blogger and marketing professional in Washington, DC. Her first novel, Queens of All the Earth, is available on Amazon. She posts on DW as @Banana but despite all reports to the contrary, she is not a minion.
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