If you are dissatisfied in your career, or looking for career advice, you are not alone. A recent Mind the Workplace 2017 study by the nonprofit, Mental Health America (MHA) surveyed 17,000 workers across 19 industries. The overwhelming results show that 71% of employees are unhappy and actively looking for a new job, or career. You may be job searching also, but questioning how to manage your emotions, behavior, as well as productivity while still on the job.
Over the course of career development, we all come to stages when we are dissatisfied or change is required. Decisions made at these times can have a profound effect on the course of one’s life.
At such a “Choice Point” you can move forward fully aligned, with confidence, or you can be reactive and become sidelined, resulting in a lifetime of consequences you may not want. You can settle for less, never knowing “what if,” or you can take control and strategically plan how you respond so you build toward a better outcome.
While companies obviously need to address the critical negative statistic from the Mind the Workplace study, it’s important to proactively create your own focus so you minimize the stress of straddling two worlds—staying engaged on the job while actively seeking to go. Actively engaging will keep you energized and focused on the benefits necessary for your future. Otherwise, passive disengagement leads to lethargy and depression, neither of which benefit you in a job search or new career development.
Here are seven ways to focus, stay engaged, and develop your self—skills for the next job or next career, and tools useful in the rest of your life.
- Think and Behave Proactively. People tend to think and behave either proactively or reactively. Dissatisfaction brings you to a choice point. You can own the transition or you can balk and passively hope the situation changes. The benefit of being proactively is that you create a strategic job search or career development plan that is do-able while also anticipating how you want to respond every day in the current job. Proactively you think scenarios through ahead of time, so you’re better able to adapt to the ups and downs inevitable in the workplace and in the job search. You manage any impatience and mood swings that might arise, You anticipate what lies ahead so you respond in a professional, appropriate way to carry you through this career transition.
- How You Perform Always Counts. When you’re unhappy at work, it’s easy to fall into self-destructive patterns, like sloppy performance, lack of productivity, tardiness, gossip, or even talking back unprofessionally to higher-ups. These behaviors can quickly lead to the unemployment line. Watch your performance and attitude at work—right up to the end. They may not acknowledge good performance, but chances are bad performance will be duly noted. It’ll get back to the decisions makers, and preferably, you don’t want to be without a job before you find another one. Plus, you’ll feel good about yourself, even if no one else is acknowledging your performance.
- Check Your Emotions. Just because you’re not currently in your ideal job it’s no reason to get down on yourself or to be disrespectful of others. Watch what you say to yourself about yourself. Inflicting shame or blame for coming into a job you don’t love is a slippery slope. It’s counterproductive. Better use of energy is sharpening your skill set and finding a new job. In short, don’t gossip or be negative; treat yourself kindly, stay adult, stay professional. If you struggle with staying professional and adult, download our free guidebook here: Improve Your Career: Master Your Part in the Art of Relationships in the World of Work.
- Become an Influencer. Role modeling your values is being your best self and knowing that you lead by example. Typically it’s people throughout an organization, not often those near the top, that are the greatest influencers—that others pay attention to, connect with, feel valued by, and learn from. To learn more about organizations and the real influencers, take a look at some of the results discovered by an innovative leader at Keyhubs. Conduct yourself at work in a way that best reflects your values, no matter what other people are doing. Practicing this develops character. It will hone your sense of what’s valuable—most important—to you. It will reveal others who share those values so you seek environments, people and employers who resonate with your values. As a result you’ll be a much happier employee, but it starts with you role modeling to attract what you value most.
- Listen Carefully, Then Communicate Effectively. Learning to effectively communicate under pressure is a critical skill in the workplace, so now’s the ideal time to add this particular talent to your skills repository. Learn to really listen by paying attention to what others are saying and not saying during a conversation is a skill to continuously develop. Sometimes, what’s left unspoken can tell you a lot about the actual meaning behind the words. Also, practice biting your tongue and work on your empathy—it’ll help you respond more effectively in stressful situations. Speak up in a positive, proactive way when input is invited. If you have someone in your personal life to practice with, download our Regular Talk + Listen Checklist to practice. Then generalize the skill of listening to the rest of your work life.
- Be Spare in What You Share. Sharing has become almost habitual, owing largely to social media. Be aware of everything you share—both written and verbal. Ask yourself if what you’re about to communicate is important to your occupational pursuits. Managing the content you share doesn’t just safeguard you from sharing something you may regret, it also helps you create healthy boundaries in the workplace. This is yet another skill you can take with you to your next job and into your life.
- Observe a little self-care. Reassure yourself that your current situation is temporary. You will find a new job that’s better than the last one. Intersperse job search, career development, and daily work with downtime.
Developing new skills and strengthening old skills under duress can be hard work. Especially when you’re hoping to jump ship soon. But the time and energy you invest will show up in how you handle yourself on the work floor. It will benefit you when you finally walk out that door.
For more on business, career, and relationship strategy to move you and your life further, faster, learn more here.