Help! I’m Feeling Lost in My Career

Are you feeling unmotivated at work and want to reignite your career? You can feel lost in your career in your 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond. Read on for tips to help you get your mojo back. 

A 2017 survey found that 45 percent of Singaporeans were unhappy at work due to work rut issues, alongside problems with their company’s management and leadership team, and the lack of opportunity for career.

Greg Tadman, Regional Human Resources Director, Michael Page says feeling lost in a career is a problem he sees often though it has many guises:

  1. Situational — due to something major happening in their life or because of certain circumstances in the office such as not liking their manager or feeling resentful there is a pay freeze 
  2. Structural — for instance when a person is in a job or company that is unsuitable (for example, due to personality mismatch) or in a job role that faces constant pressure such as sales where deadlines/quotas have to be met; or in industries such as banking where change is constant due to cost pressures, audit and compliance requirements; or in jobs that are monotonous such as data entry 

Here are some recommendations from Greg on addressing the challenges of feeling lost or unmotivated at the workplace:

    1. Identify Your Challenges

It’s important to work out why you feel this way. Is this an old or new feeling? Is it due to something currently happening in your life such as having a new baby or children leaving the nest, or a boss you don’t get along with? Asking yourself questions that help you identify the problem or work challenge you are facing is the first step in addressing feeling adrift at work.

It’s also important to understand what your key drivers are, such as career goals and what you want to achieve in life. Don’t sit back and hope that your unhappiness at the workplace will just vanish. Instead, take action. Remember, it’s harder to get out of a rut the longer you are in it. “One of the worst things you can do is to ignore the problem; you will just exacerbate the feeling of drifting or being stuck. Having a course of action will inject meaning back into your work life, giving you a sense of purpose and direction in your career once again,” says Greg. 

Tip: 

  1. Lay out some next steps you can take at your job. You can either change things (like asking for a transfer to another department) or focus on something you find important such as getting assigned to a project that interests you.
  2. Use online tools such as the “Wheel of Life” app to help you better understand and assess key areas of your life.
  3. Speak with a career coach who can help you better understand your work struggles.

    1. Focus on Your Strengths

Do you know what your strengths are, and are you leveraging them? Strengths, motivation and task interest tend to go hand in hand and will show in your performance, helping your career progression.

Greg notes that many individuals including those pursuing careers in HR tend to focus on individual weaknesses and developing these. “Focusing on your weaknesses can be a huge time-waster unless you have a serious flaw which needs to be fixed in order to move forward, such as constantly arriving late for work and meetings or not meeting deadlines.” 

Tip: 

  1. take note of what others praise you for at work due to your competency as this is likely a workplace strength. Need help to figure out what you are naturally good at? Try this free online test that tells you what your top five strengths are
  2. be realistic in your expectations of your work — ensure that the ambition that you voice matches the work ethic you have.

3. Leverage Your Network

Whatever your job, make sure you build a network which you can leverage. This is especially useful when you need to give yourself options if you find yourself unmotivated at work and are looking to move on to something new. 

Tip: 

  1. reach out to your network and speak with mentors within your company and industry. 
  2. update your social media profiles and make sure you are active on business social media sites such as LinkedIn — it’s a great place to tap on your connections and ask about specific people you would like to be introduced to.
  3. Attend business social or association meetings and events to extend your networking base. If you are a network administrator for instance, seek out events where IT professionals attend such as IT conferences and networking events. 

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