After years of late night parties and last-minute papers you managed to finish college, earned a degree and now you’re finally earning a salary with a job that is more or less related to that degree. Unfortunately, you’re not happy. You find yourself annoyed with your career choice and bored at your job. Here is why:
1. You went to school too quickly
The way our society works for some reason is that you absolutely must finish school as quickly as possible without taking any breaks in between school years to actually consider what you may want to do for the rest of your life. So you jumped into college to start a degree in which you were mildly interested. But most people, quite understandably, don’t know what they want to do with their life straight out of high school.
What to do:
Take your time. Take a year off, travel, work a few odd jobs even if they don’t relate to your degree. Explore your interests and passions.
2. You’re too afraid of doing what you like
You’re working a job you don’t like because you’re too afraid of doing the things you love. Most of us have passions — yours may be writing, playing music, glassblowing, or mountain climbing. But because you’ve been told repeatedly that it’s too hard to make it as an artist for instance, your passions never grew into anything more than a hobby and instead you moved on to safer, more practical jobs.
What to do:
Don’t be afraid to at least try following through with what you’re passionate about. Whether that means majoring in your passion while at school, or just not studying for a year to actually pursue your passion to see where it may lead you. You can always go back to school to study a more secure degree afterwards, especially when you’re still in your 20s, but it’s way harder to leave your secure job once you’ve been there for years and you have financial obligations like a car or house, or even people who depend on your income.
3. You resent your student loans
You’ve accumulated a huge student debt and now you’re working a job you don’t like so that you can, well, pay off that student debt. This results in you feeling like you wasted your time in college because you’re unhappy now, but it also makes you feel stuck because you have no choice but to keep working.
What to do:
If you can study something you like, you’ll be less resentful of the fact that you paid a lot for it. But if you don’t, not only will you be likely to work a job you don’t like, but you’ll also hate the fact that you’re stuck paying off a huge loan by working somewhere you don’t like. Going back to school can also be a solution here. Yes, you’ll amass more debt, but what’s a few thousand dollars if you’ll at least be interested in your line of work for the rest of your life.
4. You’re not getting promoted
This is a staple of the now 20-something generation. Growing up with the advent of telecommunications, we’re used to getting everything we want right away, whether it’s downloading a TV show right when we want to watch it or googling something on our phones to win an argument. The same applies to the workforce. You finished your degree and started working at a company, but you don’t feel challenged and you want more authority and more responsibilities right away.
What to do:
There isn’t an easy fix to this other than being patient and working hard. Because we’re used to getting what we want right away, patience is an odd notion for us. The fallacy in the thought process is that we feel we deserve a promotion so that then we can work harder with our newfound responsibilities, however, most organizations will promote for the reverse reasoning. The best way to get promoted is by doing more than what’s expected of you. You need to demonstrate that you deserve the promotion, not expect it to come just because you want it. Another option would be working for smaller organizations where corporate ladders tends to have less steps. Smaller companies have a shorter hierarchy and usually higher turnover as well, which means people leave faster and as there are less people above you it’s easier for you to move up.
5. You’re not changing the world
Sometime in your teen years, you had ideals on how you wanted to make a positive impact in the world. But your cubicle job doesn’t give you the time nor options to do that, so you’ve mostly given up on it all while having kept the resentment that you’re not doing any good in the world.
What to do:
Seek out jobs at companies that share your values within departments that deal with “changing the world” kind of stuff. Many bigger organizations have whole teams devoted to certain causes. Or you can take the initiative at your workplace to integrate causes that you believe in. It doesn’t need to be a huge project, any small impact you can make can benefit your community and yourself. Don’t wait for someone else to take the initiative, it will be all the more rewarding knowing that you’re the one that developed the project. Alternatively, you can go back to school to specialize in these areas. Many colleges now offer degrees or certificates in sustainable development for example, which can either complement your degree or allow you to change fields altogether.
Remember that it’s important not to worry about what society expects you to do. And as much as having a lot of debt can be a great source of anxiety, not enjoying your job for the rest of your life is a lot more disheartening.