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The Top 4 Reasons You’re Stuck in a Job You Can’t Stand

The Top 4 Reasons You're Stuck in a Job You Can't Stand

I think it’s a rite of passage in modern Western countries to wind up in an ill-fitting job.

You get into these jobs for a lot of different reasons, but when things turn sour, why do you stay? Why do you stay when you could find your ideal career, instead?

The Top 4 Reasons You’re Stuck in a Job You Can’t Stand

1 | You’ve bought into the “I have too many interests” myth

This is like saying you have too much chocolate–never a problem.

You don’t have too many interests or passions or talents. Yes, I’ve heard “I’m good at too many things” as a reason for not being professionally happy. Too talented–poor you!

So, no, you don’t have a “too many interests” problem. What you have is a clarity issue.

You don’t know which interests to pursue, which passions to monetize, or which talents to spin into gold. When all things seem equal it’s hard to make a choice, and so you opt for confusion.

In not making a choice, you’re really choosing confusion rather than taking a chance. You’re more comfortable with the (crappy) status quo than with committing to some things and letting other things go. And this can go on for years.

2 | You think you’re not qualified to do anything else

I think you might be surprised. You don’t always have to have a degree or official training to be qualified; expertise and value come in many forms.

What if instead of writing yourself off (wouldn’t you be mad if someone else treated you that way?), you became a ninja at knowing what makes you valuable, what kinds of problems you can solve, and what kind of people you’re uniquely qualified to help?

It seems to be working out for this guy, this guy, and her. So why not for you?

3. You’re scared about money.

I’m not a dope; I know money is important. And I know fear about money can create anxiety, conflict between spouses, and make you feel trapped.

But I also know that it’s possible to take risks without being reckless. And prepare for change. And do things gradually.

Last year when my husband was considering a job that would move us halfway across the country and be a pay cut, we had all those feelings and conversations that other people faced with career change do. So I speak to you from the trenches.

But if you’re going to be fearful or base your life decisions around dollars and cents, which we all have to do to some degree, at least respond to real offers and situations rather than hypothetical ones.

The truth is, until you have a job offer or set your own rates, it’s all in your imagination. When it’s time to make a real decision, you’ll be smart and do what’s best.

And P.S. – Did it occur to you that you could actually be making more money in a different career?

4. Because you can’t imagine what else you would do, you assume that no such thing exists.

Normally, I’d say you’re pretty creative, but you’re really slacking here.

I’ll cut you a break though, because I know you grew up with the same set of career expectations that I did. The adults in your life were teachers, doctors, secretaries, lawyers, electricians, real estate agents, with maybe an artist or farmer oddball thrown in. And that was about it. That’s about as much variety as you could see examples for or imagine for yourself once you grew out of the ballerina/zookeeper/fireman stage.

But things are different today. Those more traditional jobs are still around, but there are so many more possibilities. Now there are self-love coaches, and dog yoga instructors, and food truck chefs, and closet organizers, and vegan nutritionists, and wilderness leaders, and you name it. And if it doesn’t already exists, there’s probably be room to create it.

Just because you can’t picture it today doesn’t mean it can’t exist. And oftentimes it’s the things we can’t predict that turn out the best.

Why have you stayed stuck in a job that’s not right for you?

  1. lilyscloset@earthlink.net

    February 14th, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    My reason for staying stuck is #3. This comes from past experience where the money turned out not to be there as planned and hoped. I promised myself I would never get in that situation again after being there 3 times! And yet, I am not where I long and am called to be. Go figure!

  2. laura@yourcareerhomecoming.com

    February 14th, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    There are some things you just can’t predict. But there is a big difference between “things didn’t go as planned” and “things didn’t go as hoped.” Hopefully, a good plan will give some buffers and room for hopes to go a little awry 🙂

  3. psaund8727@aol.com

    February 14th, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    I am reading Understanding How to Frame your Creative Expertise with tears in my eyes. Thank you.

  4. laura@yourcareerhomecoming.com

    February 14th, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    Patti, I loved that article as well. Glad it moves you.

  5. celiajjacobs@yahoo.com

    February 14th, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    Laura, I am completely convicted by this post on so many levels. #4 resonates the most but I can relate to all of your points. Beautifully stated.

  6. laura@yourcareerhomecoming.com

    February 14th, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    Thanks, Celia. Good stuff awaits, but you gotta go get it!

  7. grodygrockle@hotmail.com

    February 16th, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    I’ve worked with my boss to hone and develop his small business to the point that I feel like I’m invaluable to him. But I resent the low pay, lack of appreciation, and massive workload, to the point where I think about leaving every day. Usually when I’m lying in bed trying to convince myself to get up to go to work! I end this train of thought consumed with feelings of guilt, disloyalty, and disappointment. I feel like he sees me as an expense, not an investment – and yet I don’t want to “let him down.” What on earth is my problem!?

  8. laura@yourcareerhomecoming.com

    February 17th, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    What’s the problem? I think you summed it up: ” low pay, lack of appreciation, and massive workload.” This is not a case of crazy Kathy is making up problems–you’ve just described symptoms of a real problem. You can address these things or take your talents elsewhere, but you can’t expect them to take care of themselves on their own. Can you revisit your workplace boundaries, ask for assistance, more recognition, or more pay?

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    June 29th, 2013 at 4:24 am

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  12. mervi@helmikuu.net

    August 21st, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    Great points as usual. You are brilliant!
    I know #2 and #4 are my problems, clearly. They sound so very familiar to me. For the #4 I must say I hear my mom’s voice inside my head every time I try to think about more unconventional jobs than “the usual”. How to get rid of that… That’s the question. 🙂

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  14. in2ition.inc@gmail.com

    September 26th, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    Great points Laura! #1 is definitely my issue and at least now I don’t feel as though I am the only one that has a problem with that. #3 is probably an issue for most. I like to believe that you will always receive what you need in life, but it still is hard to make that leap regarding the money. Thanks for this!

  15. music4bria@gmail.com

    March 25th, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    I’m stuck at my job because I haven’t yet been hired elsewhere. I’m looking though! (and applying)

  16. adelmina@gmail.com

    August 18th, 2014 at 8:17 am

    I have that problem that I fear that I am not qualified in something else.
    I was a professional specialist in some field and then moved to another country and I am walking the whole way from the beginning and eventually I am not moving anyway apart from the beginning line, I am stuck there.

    No clue how to get unstuck or even to return to where I was.

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  18. addvodka@gmail.com

    November 5th, 2014 at 12:11 am

    I think the very biggest reason is self doubt.
    Being scared about money, thinking you aren’t qualified to do anything else, those things are fed by self doubt for sure. We don’t see that we can create our own careers because we think that is for people who are smarter, more talented than us, which is simply not the case.

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  20. beowuff@gmail.com

    November 8th, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Let’s see, which one applies to me most?
    Number one. And number two. And number three. Oh, and a little number 4 as well… 😛

    1) I’m constantly flitting from one project to the next, never staying long at one thing. I guess the good news is that the list of projects I bounce between doesn’t really grow much. I’ve been trying to hone down the list of things I want to do so I can actually try to do some of them, but maybe I need to look at joining some of them together…

    2) I hit this one a lot. I get “imposter syndrome” at my current job all the time. In fact, I think I’ve had it at every job I’ve ever had except one. I work at a large online retailer with very smart people. I always feel like the dumb one in the room. At the same time, though, I’ve been reading up on starting my own business so I can escape. What I really want to do is spend more time with my 9 month old son.

    3) The only reason I’m at my current job is the money. My wife is stay at home and working on building a business doing health coaching. Unfortunately, this means I’m the only income currently and the provider for health insurance :/

    4) I have a pretty good imagination. But, most of the things I think of either won’t make much money, or sound so tedious and boring that I think I’d be more miserable then I am now. I’m working on number 2 above to try to get some more ideas…


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