Category Archives: Underemployment

I’m Not Sure What Kind of Work I Want to Do….Part 1

Trouble Je/Confusion by audhray
Trouble Je/Confusion, a photo by audhray on Flickr.

How the heck can you move into a new career when you’re not sure what you want to do?

The first and most important step is to start believing that you can do something different. You start believing you have permission to make a change.

Let me give you an example.

Imagine a woman named Pam who’s been a medical biller for the past 18 years. She’s been running her own business for 6 years now. She’s very good at what she does. Problem is, she’s lost interest in doing the work.

For quite some time she tried to get herself to like it again. Finally she decides that it’s not working and starts thinking about doing something different.

That’s when Pam decides to start seeing a career coach. As they talk, she begins to give herself permission to not just think about moving into a new career but to decide that she’s really going to make this change.


“I’ve been doing this for 18 years,” she says. “What else could I do? I don’t know how to do anything else. Nobody is going to hire me to do anything besides billing.”

Pam and her coach talk about what she’d do if she really had permission to do whatever she wanted. The first thing that comes to her mind is web design. She made a website around the time she started losing interest in billing and had a ball doing it.

“But I could never do that,” she says.

“Why not?” her coach wanted to know.

“I don’t have any training. I don’t know anything about it.”

But a few weeks later, an idea hits her out of the blue. She could take a web design class at her local community college and see how she likes it.

The class turns out to be frustrating for her. It’s quite different from making a website with Go Daddy.

But since Pam now has permission from herself to leave medical billing, she starts thinking about Plan B.

In the next post, we’ll talk about what Pam does next.


How To Cope With a Miserable Job

Stuck in a really boring job
Boredom, a photo by Teeejayy on Flickr.

First off, I’d like to congratulate you.

It takes a lot of strength to keep going each day to a job you hate. You could have run screaming from your cubicle ages ago. You could have just melted into a pool of boredom in the staff lounge.

But you’re sticking it out.

And more importantly, you’re involved in a process of figuring out what kind of work you really want to be doing and how to get to there from here.

In the meantime, you have this boring or toxic or stressful job to contend with until you can find or create something better. Here are some ideas to help you cope:

See the job as your teacher. Any difficult situation holds the opportunity for emotional growth. It’s very possible that your job is providing the exact conditions necessary for you to change in ways that will enhance every part of your life.

Do you need to learn greater understanding or assertiveness with difficult people? Do you need to develop patience? The ability to hold onto your dream when you’re feeling discouraged?

Ask yourself right now what you might have to learn.

Enjoy whatever you can about your job. What good exists there? The people? The schedule? Opportunities to develop new skills?

Unless you’re in a dangerous or highly unethical environment you can find something good about your job. Focus on this.

Appreciate the job you have and think often about the parts you like, especially if there aren’t many. You may miss these things in a better job that you’ll have down the road.

And oh – if you are in a hazardous environment physically, emotionally or legally, get out immediately.

Be around people. You need others now more than ever. It’s easy to avoid people when you’re down, or complain to the point that your friends wish you would isolate yourself.

Have lunch with someone every day. (And you must take a lunch break.)

Look around for a job-hunters’ or career development support group.

Take walks during your breaks (you must take breaks) and ask a co-worker to come with you.

Don’t give up! This job is temporary.

Even in this difficult economy, you aren’t condemned to a dead-end job.

You’re in the process of creating a great career, and nothing can throw you off this path. Celebrate your courage, your smarts, and your conviction that you can have more.