Have you heard the saying “All good things turn rotten before they end”? The phrase resonates with me on multiple levels (in relationships, jobs, hobbies, etc). When I was reading Lena Dunham’s book “Not that Kind of Girl” last fall a specific quote stuck with me “The end never comes when you think it will. It’s always ten steps past the worst moment, then a weird turn to the left“. I think most of us can think of a breakup that really should have happened sooner (you know before you felt like key-ing his car, or before you found out he cheated on you for the THIRD time). However, we don’t ever end things the minute they turn bad, we fight for them and finally end things when a situation is too toxic for us to handle any longer.
We let relationships turn completely toxic before we breakup or file for divorce, and the same can often be said with jobs! Take my experience nannying as a prime example. After years of babysitting in high school, I began nannying in college. Though there were always frustrating days I can honestly say I loved nannying! I loved the flexible hours, I loved playing with children and I loved the relationships with families. When I graduated college and was forced back into nannying for a short time my experience was different and I grew to resent nannying.
The difference that caused me to dislike a job that had once made me happy was not in the job description but due to an internal lack of fulfillment. While I was in school I nannied to earn money and bond with families. I gained intellectual fulfillment through my classes and financial security through my nannying jobs. As a full time nanny I no longer checked out of nannying and rushed to a classroom or library. I was either working as a nanny, or free to live my life out of the workplace.
Nannying turned toxic because I felt intellectually unfulfilled. I (like many of you, I presume) need to feel intellectually challenged and changing diapers and reading “Where the Wild Things Are” wasn’t pushing me to grow in the direction I wanted to. If you find yourself in a similar situation and your career feels unfulfilling or stagnant but you can’t leave (for whatever reason) I have a few tips to help you feel fulfilled in the meantime.
5 Ways to find Fulfillment when your Career isn’t Satisfying:
Giving back to the community is a great way to feel good about yourself while helping others. Depending on your availability there is volunteer opportunity to fit your schedule. I am currently volunteering as a coach for a girl’s after school running program called Girls on the Run. The program demands two afternoons a week for 10 weeks which isn’t too many hours but may seem like a large commitment for those with restricted schedules. Local food banks often allow one time or short term volunteers. Other options include volunteering from the comfort and convenience of your own home with organizations like Crisis Text Line. Volunteer Match lists virtual volunteer opportunities here! Be sure to check out LinkedIn for non-profit organizations looking for volunteers in your industry. You may be able to boost your resume by donating a few hours a week to a local charity looking for a social media expert (or whatever your skill is).
Sign up for a Class
If you find your mind numbing at your 9:00-5:00 take time to expand your mind in another setting. Taking a course in a subject that interests you or furthers your career knowledge is beneficial intellectually and secularly. Sign up for a French course at a community college, a yoga class in your community or online at Udemy. I’ve been taking Hubspot’s free Inbound Certification Marketing Course and cannot say enough good things about it. Pushing yourself to grow physically or mentally can help you to feel fulfilled even when your job isn’t challenging you in the ways you would like.
If you’re not where you want to be in your career due to a lack of experience it may be helpful to take a paid (or unpaid internship). Since internships don’t pay much a lot of the time consider interning part-time (or on evenings or weekends) if you need to keep your current job to pay the bills. An internship in your dream industry can help you feel like you are making progress towards achieving your goals even if you are forced to change diapers or serve burritos all day.
If you’re only dedicated to your lackluster job for a set amount of time (over the summer, until you pay off your credit card bill, etc) make the most of the time through cultivating your own experiences. Working retail might be boring but tends to offer a more flexible schedule than a typical office job. Spend your random days off in the middle of the week hiking at a spot that is usually packed on the weekends. As a nanny you get unexpected time off (often paid) when your nanny family is on vacation, use this time to go on a mini road-trip to see someplace new rather than watching Gossip Girl reruns in bed for four days straight. Experiencing new places or experiences can help you feel like you aren’t “wasting your life” at a dead end job.
Start a Blog
My last suggestion may seem a little silly, but my blog has really helped give me a sense of fulfillment at times! Though your boss may not value your genius ideas or offer space for creativity that doesn’t mean you can’t create a place to be creative on your own. Start a blog showcasing your favorite beauty tips, rating and reviewing wine, displaying your graphic design pieces or simply spilling your thoughts. There is value in expressing your ideas and feeling heard! Blogging can be a surprisingly impactful source of fulfillment, try it out! (:
Have you ever felt trapped in an unfulfilling job? How did you cope? Please share any mechanisms that helped you to feel fulfilled in an unsatisfying career.
***All Photos taken by Joshua Reber, I know they really have nothing to do with the content of this post but I was too excited not to share.***