How many times have you been at a job where you felt nothing but dread each day you got up, and even worse on Mondays?  How many projects did you work on where people stole credit for your ideas and received all the glory?  How many times have you bumped heads with your boss and didn’t receive that pay increase you know you deserve?  Well maybe the universe is trying to tell you something.  Perhaps you need to stop talking and just sit and listen.

We are a long way from the days where loyalty is rewarded in the corporate world.  The average corporate climber stays at a job a maximum of 3-5 years these days.  It is no longer seen as a stigma by recruiters to prefer to work temporary or contract positions or to change jobs (for advancement purposes) often. So why do so many people stay in jobs they hate?  A job can be a lot like marriage.  You come into a committed relationship and vow to uphold your duties and give your best effort.  Some where along the line, the relationship starts to break down because you’ve outgrown it.  But the reasons why people stay in jobs and remain miserable vary as much as there are people in the world.  The single mom who is raising her kids all alone may not have the luxury of just quitting to start over.  The older woman who is looking to shift gears may encounter ageism when she tries to find something else. The high school graduate who chose not to go to college may not have the education requirements demanded of a new job.  But the number one reason I often hear is fear.

Fear can make you do some strange things.  It can make you accept situations that under normal circumstances you would never tolerate.  It can make you doubt yourself and talk yourself out of stepping out on faith to start a new business.  That fear is nothing to sneeze at!  But you can contain it.  Instead of letting the fear drive you into a safety zone or give you a case of paralysis, tap into it.  I know that a lot of things scare me, but I don’t let them dictate how I will live my life.  If anything, I’ve found that fear has forced me to make some tough decisions and take chances I may not have ever taken.  You can’t let it control or consume you.  You have a right to be happy and enjoy the work you do.  You don’t have to put up with jerks in the office or an overbearing bitch as a boss.  Start by taking an inventory of your solid core skills.  Use them as the foundation for starting a new business or going after that dream career.

The internet levels a whole lot of playing fields. Take that time you would have spent surfing the web, reading OMG for celebrity gossip or shopping online and start researching opportunities.  See what types of jobs are posted in your chosen field.  See who the industry heavyweights are and reach out to them.  Read up on the latest happenings in the key player companies in the industry so you know what you’re getting into.  Start creating your professional profile so that as you begin making moves, people can learn more about you. Investigate blogging and start writing about your expertise.  No, don’t create a brag blog.  Just begin sharing your thoughts and knowledge on what you know about best.

If you are really unhappy in a position, consider returning to school or enrolling in a training program that will allow you to take courses online or in the evening or weekends.  If education is a critical component of your future success, go for it.  Don’t think of it as more money spent or time you won’t get to sleep.  Think of it as an investment in your happiness. And make sure that you find the appropriate courses and programs and that they will be beneficial to your career.

Finally, give some thought to going out on your own. I am, always have been, and always will be a staunch supporter of entrepreneurship.  Because of and in spite of tough economic times like we are in, I believe building your own business gives you the control and final word on you professional life.  I can tell you without hesitation I never liked working for someone else.  Dare I say I hated it.  I always knew I had certain talents and hated to have other people pigeon hole or decide for me what I should do.  I guess you can say I am anti-establishment! LOL  But I use that plus fear to keep me motivated to never have to return to someone else’s office again.  But running a business is hard work and not for everyone.  If you have the passion, professional or creative skill and overwhelming faith and passion, then I’d say give it a chance.  But if you’re undisciplined and slack off at every chance you get, entrepreneurship probably isn’t for you.

The bottom line is you are in control of your professional destiny. You can’t lay that at someone else’s feet. Yes, others may be in a position of authority over you (like a boss), but ultimately it is up to you to show them why they hired you and ask for what you want.  Require respect and set expectations from day one.  That way nobody can say they didn’t know.  When you feel that you’ve maxed out at a job, start looking elsewhere.  Don’t stay out of obligation or because you’re scared you won’t find something else.  Trust me, you will.  But you have to make it happen. Life is too short to be miserable or stuck in a job you hate.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham