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How to deal with career frustration and reignite your spark

career frustration

The health of both your personal and work life depends on a well-functioning YOU. If you’re happy at work and happy at home, you’re probably happier in person. So, if anything happens to upset that balance, it disrupts your ‘normal’. Naturally, some professionals struggle to keep those lives separate and toxic pressure and career frustration or workplace stress could also mean a downward spiral for their personal lives. It’s important to deal with any problem from either side that begins to spill over into your other spaces because it’s likely serious and not just another day-to-day challenge.

There are many causes of career stagnation, dissatisfaction or demotivation. Though different by definition and often experience, all three can describe a space or time in your career where it seems there is little to no room for promotion, growth or development. When you start feeling like you have no room to catch a breath, it becomes virtually impossible to maintain a keen interest in what you do. And once you’ve lost that interest, everything becomes a drag, and you find you begin to withdraw and wallow in frustration.

Later in this article, we explore the different ways in which you can reignite the spark between you and your career. But we start with the first step to dealing with these issues, identifying and understanding the root problem.

Identify the real problem

Establishing the problem is the first step to basic problem solving. You need to acknowledge and understand WHY you feel stagnant, dissatisfied or demotivated with your work.

Job expectation

An insightful way to figure the root issue out is to start at the very beginning of your current journey. When you took this job, what were your expectations? Whether these are your own personal hopes and goals or all the amazing things the recruiting officer and HR manager promised you when you came on board. Examples include the potential to progress into a higher position in the company, access to learning/training opportunities, room for a raise in the future, the possibility of affording a car or house or a better life, working in an environment that challenges you and presents new challenges regularly, and working in a company with values similar to yours. Now, analyse whether your expectations have been met. It’s likely that those expectations which have not been met are the cause of your negative feelings towards your job.

Understand your actions

Another avenue to explore for answers are the problem symptoms. This Is what we call the Look what you made me do approach. Being unhappy or undervalued at your job can result in you less productive. Look closely for changes in your patterns and attitude from the ‘happy times’ and when you started feeling demotivated. If for instance, you’re missing a lot more deadlines than you used to, it could be because your workload is appropriate for 2 people or you’re being asked to work on thigs outside of your contracted expertise.

Handling change and regret

Other workplace stressors are change in environment and career regret. A lot of people find it difficult to settle into a new working environment with new colleagues, this can make you feel out of place and dilute your creativity or discourage you from speaking up and sharing new ideas. All of which results in you being unhappy. Sometimes it’s as simple as being stuck in a career field you would rather not be in. There is no shortage of people who take jobs that pay the bills and worry about ‘passion’ later and go on to build successful and healthy work lives. Similarly, others simply can’t deal with doing something they don’t enjoy and choose to set up a career in a different discipline or by starting a business in that field on the side.

The truth is not everyone wants or can afford to be out there CEOing their own business after hours and on weekends. And unfortunately, there is no magic wand anyone can wave to suddenly get you feeling like you again. However, there are some changes you can make to try and reignite your fire in the workplace.

Reignite the spark

Now that you know why you’re unhappy, it’s time to take the initiative to make a change and make your job more satisfying.

Speak out and seek help

Don’t suffer in silence, let your manager know what you’re struggling with. She/he should be able to give you advice and help you, if need be, escalate your grievances. You can also look into seeing someone like a career coach to help you find a way forward. If the problem is affecting your home life, let your partner know about. They might not be able to help you in the capacity that a manager or HR manager might, but they might have great ideas or suggestions and make you feel better about it.

Find a place to share your knowledge and experience

Talking about your job and why you’re a rockstar at it can help renew your   interest or love for what you do. You can, for example look into public speaking engagement or informal teaching opportunities and contributing for a blog or online career website.

Keep better company

If your issues stem from a certain negative someone at work, cut of communication with them if you can or keep exchanges at a minimum. Try to find other peers at work or online so you have people in your circle who share your fire for what you do.

Find a happy place

Do the things that make you happy as often as you can. This will help rejuvenate and relax you.

About Author

Director Woman is a pan African women's career and business lifestyle digital magazine that celebrates, educates and empowers tomorrow's women, today & showcases that girls of colour are just as smart, capable and powerful.