Unhappy at Work?

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”  – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Question from a reader: I am unhappy in my current job. It’s not a horrible environment, it’s just not something I’m passionate about. I’m not sure if I’m ready to take a leap into something else just yet, because this job pays well and offers security that I doubt I’d find elsewhere. While I still have this job, are there any small steps I can start taking to find something I love?

 The best way to get on track to a career you love while you are in a job you do not like, is to dedicate time these three things:

 1.   Do the best work you can at the job you have, without overworking so you can leave with your sanity and dignity.

2.    Take care of your emotional and physical health so you have a reserve of energy outside of work.

3.    Spend some of that time and energy dreaming and planning for of a better career future.

Step three is the most important but without one and two as a foundation, you may never get to your vision or dream work. Carve out sacred undistracted to time each week to ask and answer the following questions:

 1.   What are my passions?

2.    What is my purpose?

3.    What would my work life look like, if I did my best to pursue my passions and live my purpose?

I encourage you to experiment with various techniques to help you in this process, such as seeking people who love their work and interviewing them, researching on the web on sites like this, meditation, drawing, writing, exploring new industries, and/or visiting a new city for some inspiration.  Sometimes, people discover their calling by paying attention to their emotions or intuition. You also may gain clarity through talking things over with a coach, friend or advisor. Several clients I have worked with had an epiphany while interacting with nature, exercising, vacationing, driving or even while watching television!

While clarifying your dream work, and taking steps to created your dream job, the answers to these three important questions will come in and out of focus. Some of you may feel that you have too many ideas. If this is the case, you will need to try one or more on to see if they fit. If one doesn’t fit, you have learned something valuable, and can try something else. If you like multi-tasking, you will not need to choose just one of idea. We are living at a time when you may be able to piece together several paths to form a career. These are called portfolio careers if done simultaneously, or serial careers if done one-by-one in an overlapping series.

Once you see a clearer vision and choose a direction, it’s critical to take steps to start creating your dream job promptly and boldly so you can move away from your horrible work environment toward work you love.


Here is a story of man that demonstrates the power dreaming:  

Shai Agassi, CEO of Better Place, was on the fast track to becoming a CEO at one of the largest companies in the world, SAP. During that period he was challenged to come up with a project to change the world and decided to figure out a way to run a country without oil dependence. The answer came and now he is on his way to spreading the solution around the world. Learn all about it in this PBS interview.


Thank you for your great question and I hope Shai’s example gives you fuel to begin the process of digging deep and getting to your purpose. Let me know what you thought and if you need any other support.


Laurel Donnellan

CEO and Founder, Bright Livelihoods


Laurel has 30 years of experience as a leader, educator and coach and has degrees from Cornell and Columbia. To learn more about the Bright Livelihoods community, go to http://brightlivelihoods.com. To request a private half-hour coaching session, e-mail us at info@brightlivelihoods.com

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