Almost every day, through my work and my social gatherings, I meet people who are in a really hard place with their work situation; they either hate what they do but feel like they are stuck there to be able to pay their bills or they have been laid off and lost their trust in corporations and are in search of what is next.
I see many of them feeling embarrassed or like there is something wrong with them. They want to look strong and look like they need to have all the answers for their situation. When they are lucky to meet people who are honest and vulnerable, then they are willing to share their struggle with work, their finances and/or their new vocation search. As in everything else in life, when they share they see there are many people just like them. I wish everybody was able to tell their stories authentically and have the right kind of support. Because the same stories are everywhere and nobody is alone on this journey. There is really nothing to be embarrassed about.
I guess you all know by now Gallup study revealed almost 70% of workers are not engaged. Many other studies and research show similar numbers everywhere. So this is a common pain among many employees.
I think we are in that transformation stage where the stable and safe jobs at corporations are mostly gone and the old mindset definition of a “job” is fading away. The last group of employees are retiring after working 30 years at the same company. I think this is the last generation who was able to stay and work for that long. Many people, even if they intended to do so, could not stay and work at the same company because of layoffs. I have many friends who always did the right thing from their education to working hard to being very responsible and they still found themselves laid off. What do you do then? You followed the path to success that was given to you without questioning, you feel like you did everything right and the result was the same: you do not have a job or you are miserable at your job. Many people struggle with this. They see two options 1) “I can go and find another job but who knows how long I can work there. I cannot plan my life, I cannot buy a house, I cannot start a family because I don’t know how stable and safe that will be. I lost the trust.” 2) “May be I should start working on my own. I will have more control over my life. But what is that going to be? How will I find my own clients? Do I know how to run my business? “. Many take this second route now more than ever. It is no surprise to see studies like by MBO Partnersthat predicts 70 million people, more than 50 percent of the private workforce, will be independent by the year 2020.
Both options have risks. It is hard to make a choice. Having a job has been more stable for generations but that is not so true anymore. The business world has changed and many who need to work now and have to make a living and save for retirement are struggling. When you see the pathway given to you does not work, you start to question everything about life too. If you sacrificed a lot to work too many hours a day and did not get to see your family as much at your job and got laid off, would you do the same in the next one? Is it really going to be worth it this time? What type of job do I want this time?
With everything changing and conventional paths not working as they used to, you start to look for more balance and meaning in your life. You question how you want to spend your money; if you want to be a slave to pay the house mortgage or use it to spend more quality time with your children living a simpler life. Young ones are already questioning them right after college because they already watched their parents struggle with jobs that they did not like or got laid off from. Their parents missed their soccer games or their plays at school. They don’t want to live like that with their own children. Can you blame them? Yes, there is no easy answer but it is worth thinking about all these big life questions; what matters most in life and try to design your life around what you value the most.
I think everybody who is in this place of trying to create what is next in their lives need to be aware of the different times we live in. Things are shifting in the workplace and in the long run I am hopeful that some old school mindsets that did not serve the best interest of employees, clients and even companies will be broken to start creating environments that employees will love. Many exceptional leaders are already making this shift one company at a time.
What can you do now?
Until you find what is next in your life on your own or with the help of experts like mentors and coaches:
Make sure you find the right kind of people to support you, do not be around naysayers
Remember many people are going through the same phases like you do. You are not alone; these are different times
Believe that there are companies who are doing the right thing and have great cultures where you will love to work; do not give up search for them
And most important of all, do not take this place of being unemployed, indecisive and in pain as a personal failure or a sign of being unsuccessful. You all have great experiences and gifts to share and these turbulent times cannot take those away from you. It may take time but you will find what that next step is for you if you believe it.