I Wasted Twenty Years Of My Life In The Wrong Career
The past is the past, and nothing can be done to change it.
I spent two decades working in an industry that left me mostly unfulfilled.
I could always pay my bills and I met some great people along the way. Early on, I met the love of my life, who I’ve called my best friend for 25 years and counting. (Clearly the biggest win of all)
Recently a writer I follow on Medium, Ayodeji Awosika, wrote, “It’s never the job itself, but the way the job impacts your life.” That’s true.
If you’re fulfilled and meet your needs, I call that winning. And winning, I was not.
For nearly two decades I bounced from one car dealership to the next looking for something I couldn’t find.
I didn’t stay in one place very long because I was looking for something that wasn’t there; I just didn’t know it.
A couple of times, I worked as a manager, which I hated, so mostly I sold cars, something I hated a bit less. It seemed like there was no end in sight.
Fortunately for me, I’ve been out of the car business for about ten years, and sadly it took a global pandemic to nudge me hard enough to start my own business.
It turns out I was afraid to fail and burdened by debt that forced me to go to a job I hated to pay for things I didn’t need, all to be another middle class American cliche.
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A couple of years ago, with the support of my wife and only a mortgage to cover, I opened a Medicare brokerage business where I could work from my home office and engage the people I serve in a way that suits us both. Thankfully the business is thriving and I’m using my creative energy in places I hadn’t previously.
Making a career change in your late 40s is challenging and often ill-advised. Many of us 40 somethings are shackled by debt and living with a false sense of security. The pandemic exposed how fragile everything is by stripping people of their security blankets and raising debt even more.
Every career move has a certain amount of risk, but there may be a greater risk in not moving.
Looking back on my situation I can identify three specific problems I waited a long time to address.
Everyone’s situation is different, and the road I traveled to begin truly solving my career problems was long and convoluted, but I’m on the path, and making progress.
If you’re stuck in a job that’s killing you on the inside, take this step to plan your escape:
The first step to solving any problem is to define the problem. You can only fix something if you know what’s broken. I know this sounds obvious, but if it took me as long as it did to define my problem, I can’t be alone.
Here are 4 problems that lead to dissatisfaction in the workplace:
The Challenge Problem
Many people find having the opportunity to solve interesting problems and overcome challenging situations motivating, and it promotes growth both personally and professionally. If you aren’t regularly getting outside of your comfort zone on the job and dread the boredom you know you’re bound to face when you get to work, you’ve got the challenge problem.
The Empowerment Problem
Do you ever feel like you’re nothing more than a cog in a machine? Do you often feel like what you do only matters because it’s getting done, but the fact that you do it means very little in the end? This happens when you are unable to express your creativity or use your imagination in unique ways. This is what it could feel like if you’re a line worker in a factory, making widgets that have to be the same every single time. Your scope of influence is limited, and you have an empowerment problem.
The Stagnation Problem
One of the easiest of all career problems to identify is the stagnation problem. This occurs when you have no upward mobility or target to shoot for that takes you to a better place in your career. It’s the epitome of being stuck in a dead end job. You’re on a road to nowhere.
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