Career Advice: I Hate What I’m Doing But How Do I Figure Out What Else I’d Do?

Dear Dorothy,

I woke up this morning with an epiphany that my life stinks. I need to find a career that is right for me. I am a person centered on fun. I have had too many jobs that I could not standchangesign and it did not go well for me. It is time to take charge and finally start getting the career that I soooooo long for. I came across your article and liked your philosophy. I am 42 yrs old. My main career has been as a truck driver and a police officer. Due to an unfortunate back injury I have had to stop both of these permanently. It is time I start doing what I want to do. Any advice will be appreciated. I am a very creative person. I am good at making people laugh (not a comedian just good When I am not being shy I am a very social person. Very family oriented. Willing to go the extra foot or possibly mile for things I enjoy, people included. My wife says I am very moral (not a preacher). I am sure I have a lot more good qualities. –R-


Dear –R-, First, let me say congratulations for waking up to your life!  Many people are unhappy with their work but simply won’t even take the first step.  As I say “It’s not just a job, it’s half your life”.  We spend too much time working to be unhappy with it and it’s more than half your life.

  • The journey you are about to embark on is one of self discovery.  To be truly satisfied with the work you would do, you need to first find out what works for you and what doesn’t.  What I’m saying with this, is what are you doing when you’re at your best?  What skills are you using? What are you doing that makes it simply just work for you and satisfy you?  Spend time with those questions, go back into your life and look at multiple situations so you can “see” yourself under a variety of circumstances.  Then, look at the opposite – what were you doing when you were at your worst or unhappy?  What made those bad for you?  This will help paint a picture of what values your hold, what skills you like to use and things you want to avoid.  I would then suggest you look at things that you are naturally attracted to and go research and follow those things – talk to people, go on the internet.  Let me caution you to not discount anything in the early stages.  I know about a guy that builds sandcastles for a 6 figure living,, so any human pursuit can be turned into a job or income producing work.
  • Many people think the path to a new career is a job search.  I warn you against doing that, at least at this stage.  Some of the worst job searches I’ve seen are people who think they will “find something” – a messy, unproductive job search is what they end up with.  You have to do the work FIRST to get to a clear resonant decision.  Then, if it implies a job search, you know what you’re looking for.
  • The best career changes decisions are ones where you spend time exploring yourself and exploring anything that might remotely sound good.  You have to be curious.  You have to go “in search” by doing research into the field of work.  It will only be by doing that level of exploring will you ultimately unearth something that will ignite your passion.  No, you can’t just magically have the answer come to you while you sleep (wish that could be the way it works) and yes, you have to be patient with the process because it is a process – one that you must embark on to get the answers.
  • I will say that many career coaches believe the best career change is one that isn’t too radically different from your history.  I understand the concept but I think that for people like you, that probably is not the case.  I mean, you could investigate related professions like shipping logistics since you were a truck driver or safety education but I think you want to be open to all possibilities because of both your back injury as well as simply giving yourself permission to explore.  I know a guy who was a carpenter and now does spa services – how’s that for radically different?  I can only tell a bit about you from what you’ve said but it sounds like people play an important role in your life, so I would consider careers where service is a strong component, sales? Teaching?

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Are Office Politics working for You?

There was once a time when I thought “Office Politics” was tantamount to a dirty word. It was something low, underhanded and potentially unethical. If this sounds familiar, I’m here to Land Minesillustrate for you that office politics isn’t this offensive behavior I once thought it was. If you intend to rocket your career to the next level, I can help you jump beyond negative thoughts of office politics and see how it is something for you to master.

If you look up the definition of politic or politics, you find the following: wise in promoting a policy – tactful and shrewd – competition between groups or individuals. In other words, a person who is politically savvy in the office is someone who is wise at promoting themselves and promoting the agenda of the business management that will move them both ahead.

Any time you get more than a few people together for a specific reason, you have politics to deal with. Politics are formed as a result of a combination of factors, not the least of which includes popular opinion and goals (or agendas). Politics are driven by the most dominant people in the group. Generally, the most dominant is the boss, but you can’t discount the natural evolution of the alpha leader that most groups include. The alpha leader is, for a number of reasons, the unofficial leader of the group. Sometimes their opinion matters more than the boss’, or certainly as much.

How can you use office politics to promote your career growth?

  1. Identify influencers. You need to first understand the major influencers in the group. Obviously, you can pick out the boss(es). There will be other people in the group who are looked to for answers and opinions, even by the boss. They may or may not be the most senior or experienced. You can pick them out because they will usually voice an opinion or provide input on most subjects. You will observe people going to them for counsel, advice and insight. They may be irritating, picky people, but they are still the ones that wield power. Knowing who’s who in your organization is important, as you need to learn from these people and understand what is being prized and rewarded.
  2. Know the boss’ level of power. You need to understand the power your boss does or does not exert. Although power is given to the boss by virtue of their position, it doesn’t always mean they possess personal power. This is important to understand, because if they can’t sway opinion by their personal ability, there is a limited opportunity for them to impact your career growth. This is an unfortunate situation in some instances, but not always. Bosses in this situation may not be able to campaign for you, but they probably aren’t going to be a barrier either. This simply means you can’t anticipate or work to have them aid you in career growth. It will save you time and effort if you understand this characteristic.
  3. Include mentors in your plan. You need to devise a career growth plan that includes not only the work experience you need to bump you up, but defines who your mentors and advocates will be. You also need to mentor and advocate for others. The more people that you can positively bring up with you, the better your long term success will be. We are loyal to those who have helped us the most.
  4. Observe the shifting tides of opinions. Many things have a cycle of popularity. Just as your hair style may have gone out of style last year, so do the opinions and popularity of people at work. These shifts can range from slow and subtle to fast and abrupt. When they are subtle, you may start noticing that the person who was once the department darling is now simply occupying space. What was once thought of as brilliant concepts by the alpha dogs is now largely ignored. There are numerous reasons why these shifts take place – too numerous to mention. If this happens to you, you either need to figure out how to regain the stature you once had or move. If this happens to an influencer you had garnered support from, you simply need to recognize the change and make a decision about who your next support will be. This sounds cold and calculating. I’m not suggesting you toss this person to the curb, unless they hold no other value to your career growth. If they do, then keep them for the other valuable asset they still are.
  5. Be always ready to seize new opportunities. Keep in mind that if you aren’t performing the primary job you were given, then it makes almost no difference how observant and scintillating your ideas are. If you aren’t doing the basics, the rest of this will make almost no difference. Your performance is the solid base you must build. It will spring board the rest of your moves. Assuming you are doing your job and doing it well, you can plan your growth by jumping on opportunities the political environment presents.

Office politics is similar to chess. There are infinite numbers of moves and the best players are the ones who think of the future move possibilities and see how the dynamics of the board continue to change.


Bonus Tip: Adapting is key to your career survival, growth and advancement. Get Free Instant Access to Video series The 5 Most Common Ways Introverts Commit Career Self-Sabotage and How to Avoid Them. Click here now: Brought to you by Dorothy Tannahill-Moran, Introvert Whisperer, dedicated to unleashing your career potential.