Are You In The Wrong Career, Or Simple Burned Out? 3 Reflective Questions

Job Frustration of the young, aspiring professionals

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Job Frustration of the young, aspiring professionals

Time flies. It’s graduation season again and when you see college students on the street, you feel like you are getting old faster than you think.

Your colleges days seem so long ago, a nostalgia of the “good old days”.

You are in your 2nd or 3rd year since you entered the workplace. While you see fresh graduates as “kids”, older employees still treat you as one of them, just that you are less naive right now (!).

Your time is running out. 30% of your life has passed (Watch how Nas Daily use 1-min to illustrate), and you find yourself in a reality that is far away from your ideal.

What went wrong here?

The feeling of “in-between” is real

Contrary to the stereotype of Millennials, you’ve worked extremely hard and put in lots of effort and time to build your career.

Working 9 to 5 is a myth; because everyone around you is having a 60-hour work week, and that has not included replying instant messages and email checking during the weekend.

If we do some simple calculation here, when 40-hour work week on the contract becomes 60-hour work week, in 3 years time you have already gained 4.5 years of working experiences! No wonder one year seems such a long time since you joined the workforce.

Yet, with all the hard work you’ve committed, you get just a tiny sense of achievement in return. A promotion or salary raise might be in the pipeline; but in case if it’s not, you are ready to job hop and give yourself a promotion.

You feel like you are achieving less than you should. All in all, the world of work is very different than your expectation.

The student-to-workplace transition is not over yet

When you were a student, the progression is very transparent, scheduled and guaranteed. Every year when you ‘ve learnt when you need, passed the exams, you will be promoted to the next level. All you need to care about is managing your own studies.

But it’s not the same for the workplace. Your performance and level of skills are not determined solely by your own effort. You need to master the art of collaboration and negotiation with other teams, other business units and vendors. You also have to manage the expectations of customers, and your supervisors. You might even start to supervise other people and learn to become a “great boss”.

There are so many things that are out of your control and nothing can be guaranteed, which brings anxiety.

Working hard alone is never enough. You now realise that your parents and teachers have simplified it too much!

Another critical source of irritation is the “meaninglessness” nature of work itself. Be it the outdated company policies & rules, complicated office politics, or your job content, you can’t put a correlation between your efforts and talents to what impact you can bring to the world. Being a cog in a large machine doesn’t feel very significant.

With all the job frustration, how do you move forward in your career development?

It is definitely more than just the question of “to quit or not to quit” your current employer. To arrive where you want to be in, first you need to be crystal clear about your DESTINATION.

3 Reflective Questions To Kill Job Frustration and Clarify Career Objectives

Question 1: Do you want to be in your boss’s position one day?

This is actually the alternative of the “How do you see yourself in 5 years” interview question, only that now you can authentically answer this to yourself.

If your answer is YES, and the next question would be, “How can you be him/her in X years?”.

What skill gaps do you have? What kind of experience, training or resources do you need to get? who do you need to know and expand your network with? Your next action is then very obvious: Map out a concrete action plan, and work hard to get there!.

If your answer is No, read on.

Question 2: How much are you utilising your strengths at work?

Your ability to put your strengths at work is a proven predictor of your job satisfaction. Take a quick evaluation of your strength-usage ratio by listing out all your required skills at work, assign a % of usage in a typical day at work, and give that skill a score from 1–10 to determine your level of competency.

(Not sure what your strengths are? Take the VIA Strength Survey and Strengthfinder to find out. Also consider what other people praise you for the most.)

If 50% or above of your work skills are utilising your strengths, it’s a healthy ratio!

And if your strength usage ratio is low, chances are you are a misfit to your current role. Then find out WHO is currently in a role that you can perform better than s/he does with less effort.

Career change is a big deal, and therefore I strongly advise that before you go all-in, test your ideas and experiment with your new career option in quick and low-risk ways. Being a volunteer within or outside your current job, or starting a side hustle could be great ways to begin.

When you are pretty sure you want to continue the pursuit of this new career option, explore internal transfer possibilities within your current company first. In the long run, sharpen your tentacles to search for a better fitting role to your unique strengths and passion.

Question 3: How does your current role help you strengthen the top in-demand skills?

“The Future of Job Report” released by World Economic Forum in Jan 2016 provides deep insights for our career development. Take a look at this two infographics and determine if your skills are having strong market demand, or you can be easily replaced by a robot in 3–5 years time:

If none of the above 3 questions brings you new insights into what you want for your future career development, take this quiz to evaluate your Burn Out Level. Maybe all you need is a vacation to recharge and revitalise yourself 🙂

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