Most people feel uneasy in their professional lives. Are you satisfied with yours? If not, what can you do to change it?
Are you satisfied with your career path? According to a poll of United States workers, ⅔ expressed dissatisfaction with their job, with many citing they feel stuck because their college diploma is in a different field than the one they’d rather be pursuing. Not to mention, this only included those who have degrees; what about those who don’t? Most high school graduates without post-secondary education are at a significantly higher risk of working a job they aren’t content with and dislike. The same poll showed that 65% believe a better boss would satisfy them more, while 35% chose a pay raise to increase satisfaction.
A separate study found that, generally speaking, many Americans are satisfied with their job, but even then, 30% state they only work their job to make ends meet. Of course, you can expect different levels of satisfaction in varied occupations. For example, a salaried employee who receives comprehensive healthcare benefits will likely be more satisfied than a contract worker who receives little to no benefits. Yet, in this study, only 49% of Americans stated they were satisfied with their work. Of course, highly educated workers were among the most satisfied within their respective career fields. Simply put, because they have a career, not a job.
The age-old conversation of a job versus a career. A job is often seen as the lesser of the two, something to “get you by and pay the bills.” On the other hand, a career is supposed to be a fulfilling, rewarding workplace where you feel involved, appreciated, and a part of something much bigger than yourself. However, those who’ve experienced enough trials and tribulations in the workforce know this isn’t always the case. Often, you can be in your career field and still be unsatisfied, as both studies show. There’s this idea that when you go to college, you’ll come out on the other side of it with a game plan for the rest of your career and life, and it simply isn’t true.
If you’ve worked for multiple employers, you know several factors influence career satisfaction outside of setting your heart on your preferred field of study. Sure, searching, surveying, and ultimately finding what degree you want to pursue is a lengthy, exhausting process. It wasn’t until I was thrown into the fire of taking random courses throughout college that I started leaning towards specific areas of study. Some dismiss these general courses, but they were paramount in me uncovering my passion. Yet, that was only one step in the direction of my career.
As I followed up on my passion for writing by pursuing a bachelor’s degree in communication and media, something was still missing. I needed an outlet, and so I created this website, Align. It was a personal outlet for me to pursue outside of work. Which, in turn, helped me in my professional career. I’ve since used this website as a portfolio of sorts, displaying my writing, design, and graphic capabilities. I was able to take something I loved doing in my spare time and make it productive for me all around, and that’s what your career of choice is all about, something that will make you happy in and outside of work.
Let’s first start with it’s never too late. As mentioned, many people feel stuck because they chose a specific degree at only 20-years-old and now feel they can’t seek employment outside of that degree because it’s also where their professional experience lies. While it will be strenuous, you can always go back to college to seek another degree, or start at the bottom of a company that consists of your preferred field of work, maybe even part-time, to eventually grow into a substantial role over time.
Typically, people don’t want to leave their current careers to give up the great benefits they’ve gained over the years, and are worried about whether their 401K will rollover or the possibility of receiving a reduction in pay. All of these factors are important and could very well happen. Yet, what truly matters is your happiness. You know what they say,
“If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Suppose you have the world’s best salary, benefits, perks, etc. What does it matter if you’re not genuinely satisfied with what you do? Because that will alter not just your professional, but personal life too. If your career takes you away from spending time with your family and loved ones, is it worth it? Sure, you may make enough to take your family on several vacations every year, and they’re a lot of fun. But if you rarely see your family otherwise because you’re always buried in work, what’s the point?
Additionally, finding work you love cannot be expressed enough. If you take a pay cut but are enjoying what you do by impacting others’ lives, that is what you will look back on. We won’t think about all the money we made or the fancy work parties we attended at the end of this lifetime. Instead, we’ll focus on how we led our lives, which involves the person we became, the meaningful work we did, how we influenced others’ lives, and the grace with which we did it.