Everywhere I go these days I meet people who are unhappy with their jobs or who feel stuck in their careers. If you are in a bad place, or a dead-end job, or do not feel that you have any leverage (or imagination) to improve your professional situation, here are 5 simple ways that anyone, in any set of circumstances, can improve their quality of life and their career options.
1. Find a Mentor
Identify somebody in your organization or professional or social network whom you admire, or who have been successful (in a role that interests you), or who seems wiser and more knowledgeable about the art of working and living. Develop a rapport and a relationship with the individual. Spend more time with them, even if only through email. Share with them some of your challenges and concerns and seek out their advice. The professional world is a continuously shifting maze. They do not publish maps to get through it. However, successful individuals have usually come up against all the dead ends already. Many are eager to put their hard-earned wisdom to good use. You just have to ask.
2. Always Have an Attitude of Learning and Improvement
Every day on the job that goes by without you having absorbed more knowledge, skill, and expertise is a wasted day. There are few exceptions to this rule, even in dead-end jobs. Are you moving garbage all day? Then you are getting stronger, by the hour. Are you being given the thankless administrative task of documenting meetings? Then you are becoming a faster and more accurate typist. Are you gridlocked by office politics? Then you are developing a keener insight into organizational dynamics and human nature. Anything can be turned to your advantage with the right attitude.
3. Develop a Broader Curiosity About the World
Whatever is going on from 9 to 5, nothing can stop you from learning more about the world around you in your free time. Read more books and newspapers. Develop broader and more eclectic interests. School yourself in financial and economic subjects. Stay current with technology trends. Read different newspapers and periodicals. A first step in changing the trajectory of your professional career lies in constructing a realistic picture of the world around you. You need to keep yourself informed to accurately visualize the maze around you and better understand your options.
4. Understand and Leverage Social Media
The power of social media is difficult to understate. Before LinkedIn, you would have to mail your resume to 100 qualified employers before receiving one response. Nowadays, your profile can be viewed by hundreds of people each week, your wider network can reach into the millions (or sometimes the tens of millions). There are unlimited ways to brand yourself and project your professional persona. Ignore these tools at your own peril!
5. Do Not Separate Your Spiritual Values from Your Business Goals
It is a myth that you have to be cutthroat and selfish to succeed in the world. If anything, the opposite is the case. Stay true to your spiritual calling, even if it means putting aside your own agenda to help others and be of greater service. Not only will you be happier but you will also project much greater value to your organization and those around you.