Following your Ambitions

Are you truly happy at your job? Do you feel fulfilled in your career? Are you excited when going to work or do you absolutely dread it and feel miserable at the mere thought of work? According to statistics, the average person will spend about 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime, which equates to approximately one-third of your life. Yet, still about 80% of Americans hate their job. So why spend such a huge chunk of your life being miserable?

Now, the answer to that question is both simple and complicated at the same time. The simple answer is just quit if you’re unhappy. However, for some that means struggle especially if you’re heavily relying on your job to put food on the table for your family, to pay bills and rent to have a roof over your head, to simply get by even if it means living paycheck to paycheck. Now if we add COVID-19 to the equation as well, people may be even more afraid to leave their jobs simply because they’re grateful to have a job to begin with in the middle of a pandemic even if it means being unhappy.

Another reason people choose to live their lives working at a job they hate is because they don’t believe in themselves or their potential. Individuals with low self-esteem and low self-worth typically don’t believe they’re capable of achieving what they truly want to do. They may believe they don’t have the capacity, ability or even time to do something else and so they convince themselves “what’s the point in even trying…why bother?” They may think they’re not good enough, that they don’t have anything useful to offer, or that “nobody would hire me anyway.”

An additional reason people may stay in an unhappy career bubble is fear. There’s fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of things not going as planned, and I’m sure much much more. Fear can be one of the hardest emotions to let go. Even though we know it holds us back from going after our dreams, at the same time we view it as a form of protection. However, one of the most famous quotes says “fear kills more dreams than failure ever will.”

At the end of the day, it all comes down to risk. However, what makes a risk worth taking also involves believing you have the potential to take a risk. Ultimately, we are only confined by the walls we build ourselves. We are our biggest barrier. If we don’t believe in ourselves and our ability to pursue our dreams, then we will never risk leaving our unhappy jobs, therefore never giving ourselves even the opportunity to find happiness elsewhere. This never-ending cycle is called the self-fulfilling prophecy (which is a whole other blog topic in of itself…stay tuned next month). In order to leave a job that is making you miserable to pursue your dream job it will require taking a risk, making a change, and letting go of the fear of the unknown or fear of failure. The thing is, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, it doesn’t have to be all of a sudden, nor does it have to mean that we will automatically lose our house, food, or stability in life. It’s about being strategic and taking it one step at a time.

Here are some tips on how to start taking that first step forward:

Place value on your own happiness

Change won’t happen until you first make the decision to no longer stay in the position you’re in and that starts with recognizing that we must value our own happiness. If being happy is important to you, then that risk will be more of a risk worth taking.

Take ownership for your life decisions

Change can’t happen until you recognize that YOU are in charge of YOUR life. Even if you make decisions based on other’s opinions or if others influence your choices, you are still the one that makes the decision. It’s a matter of starting to take back control and realizing that you won’t ever be happy if you’re only doing things because someone else thinks that’s what’s best for you. No one else is living your life but you so you should be able to choose to do what makes you happy.

Explore options

Exploring options means research. Start by looking up what your dream job entails. Does it require more schooling or certain certifications/experiences? Once you’ve got those options laid out, you can take it a step further and weigh out your pros and cons for each option. If you don’t have a dream job yet, consider taking career assessments that match potential job titles with your personality, work values, interests, and skills.

Keep an open mind

Along with exploring options, keeping an open mind will allow you to explore beyond the horizon. There are tons of jobs out there that we don’t even know the title or name of and we will never know if we truly belong or enjoy something until we’re immersed in it. Being open to experience and trying something new is your best friend when pursuing job options.

Challenge irrational or self-defeating thoughts

The biggest barrier you will face is your own mind. Self-doubt will try and convince you that being unhappy is better than going after something that may not work. Thinking about the worst case scenario and jumping to conclusions are only cognitive distortions that will get in your way. There is a potential of things not working out, however, there is also the potential of things working out just fine. It’s all a matter of what we chose to look at. We can submit to our own self-defeating thoughts or we can choose to challenge that by looking at positive changes that could occur including that your life could look like if you were ACTUALLY happy in your job.

Create a vision/plan

Set goals for yourself. Make a decision on where you’d rather be in regards to a career. A vision will give you the momentum needed to make your dreams come true. Create a timeline or list of things you know you want or are looking for in a career.

Explore work values

Take an inventory of what you value most in a job or what you find to be important. Is it support from colleagues and management, is it recognition or opportunity for advancement, is it the working conditions, amount you get paid, schedule or benefits, is it the relationships between colleagues and teamwork or sense of independence, freedom, and flexibility? These are all things to consider when looking for jobs as everyone’s values are different and having a job that matches your highest values will more likely lead to greater job satisfaction.

Believe in yourself

I can’t stress this enough! Believe in yourself and your capabilities. If the worst that can happen is that you fail then try again. “Failure is success in progress.”

Take action

You may have done everything else on the list and you feel motivated and driven but the hardest thing sometimes is actually following through. Change won’t happen without action. We have to implement that vision, that plan, those values, those options we explored.

Quit making excuses

I don’t have the time to do this…nobody will support me if I go through with it…I have to stay where I’m at to take care of my family…I don’t have enough money…I don’t have the energy…what if the new job is worse…I can’t do it. Excuses only hold us back. It’s time to let go of the what if’s scenarios and false conclusions.

Who were you before society told you who you should be? What did you want to do with your life before your parents said it wasn’t realistic? What sparks your drive, passion and heart and makes you feel alive? These are the questions to ask yourself when pursuing your ambitions. You don’t have to sign up for a life of misery just to have a roof above your head and food on the table. You have other options, you just have to open your mind to them.

If you find yourself stuck in a job you hate and can’t seem to find a way out, we can help. Please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced mental health counselors. We are here to support and help you pursue your ambitions in life.


LECS Counselor