Lucky to Have a Job…

It’s Monday. Today I ran into a coworker while taking the elevator down to grab lunch in the building cafeteria. After completing the round of  “what’s new?” small-talk, she told me that my former coworker got laid off from his most recent gig at a competing firm. He had been laid-off from my current firm about 4 years ago, after the big market crash. We parted ways, and I began to think about this person and how he’s somehow landed back in the stress of job searching again.

I couldn’t help but think to myself “I guess I’m lucky to even have a job”.  As much as I hate hearing this phrase, particularly from my parents, I started to wonder if this is what life has become. Maintaining a sub-par, dead-end, and sometimes demoralizing job just because I have one? What happened to the days of challenging myself and achieving and growing? My “career” has stagnated, to put it lightly. I am now in a job that is so mindless a monkey could do it. I am bored 3/4 of the time. I feel like my life is being wasted away every single second I am sitting in my dismal cubicle in this dismal office.

Before accepting this “lateral” position transfer (let’s be real…this was a demotion), I had been interviewing with outside firms. The positions they were offering seemed challenging. I was excited by them. But something inside me kept me from making the move. The first time it was because I was so busy planning my wedding that I thought, why make a move right now when I am able to coast here and maintain a low-profile? I could take long lunches for dress fittings, or leave work early for vendor appointments. That was almost two years ago.

Exactly this time of year, one year ago, I was interviewing with a firm and got an offer for a more challenging position, but the commute canceled out the modest increase in salary.

So here I am today, feeling invisible, insignificant, and worthless. I shouldn’t let my job define me. But let’s be honest…I spend at least 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, sitting here. That’s the majority of my time. Shouldn’t I try to find something that makes me happier?

Easier said than done. Firstly, I don’t really know what I want to do in my “career” anymore. If I knew what I wanted, I could map out a plan and go for it.

Secondly, if I make a career transition into something new, I will take a paycut and undoubtedly start at the bottom.

And C, I haven’t gotten too many call-backs from recruiters as of late.

And do I really want to be stressed and challenged, when I can cruise over here? Keep a low-profile? And be comfortable with the familiar?

Lucky to have a job? You betcha. But my spirit is dead and I’m extremely miserable. And that definitely spills over into my personal life, as much as I try to prevent that from happening.

Something’s got to change. Something’s got to give…

Feeling Stuck

Feeling stuck, whether it’s in work or life circumstances, can make you feel helpless, frustrated, miserable, angry, and many other emotions.  I feel stuck right now and it is an empty, desperate, and lonely feeling. I don’t feel like anybody understands.

Squashed Dreams

Do you have a dream? Perhaps it is to own your own business, or to climb the corporate ladder and become CEO. Or perhaps you have always wanted to be an actor or a musician.

Mine was to own my own business and to exit corporate America. I just wasn’t sure what kind of business. But then I finally narrowed it down and thought of something my neighborhood could really use.

I won’t say what it is in this blog. And perhaps I should have followed this instruction while sitting at dinner with my family last night.

Here’s a tip: Never reveal what your dream is to anyone until it is carefully planned out and you’ve got one foot in it and you’re about to exit your current job.  That is a sure fire way to avoid your family and friends from telling you that your dream will never work or that it is not a good idea to leave your stable job in this economy, no matter how miserable you are.

So, keep your dreams to yourself. Don’t tell anyone about it–not your coworkers, your friends, your parents, and not even to your spouse. Not until you have done your research and have come up with an answer for every negative comment or question that could come up. And not until you are nearly close to pulling the trigger.

I learned the hard way.

My Attempt at a “Happiness Project”

In other news, I’ve finally finished the book “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. I thought that perhaps I can start my own project. A little hokey, maybe. But crying nearly every day over a job that makes me miserable isn’t a good way to live. Any little bit of extra happy would help.

So the first thing I thought I would do is to try to limit the amount of time I spend on Facebook. I have read an article recently that discussed how the lack of real face-to-face social interaction has made society less happy. I also read that people tend to be less happy after reading status updates and seeing happy photos of those in their friend list, who seemingly have perfect happy lives.

So I decided to deactivate my account and to see how long I could go without Facebook. Day one (Thursday) was easy. This is cake, I thought to myself. Friday came around, work was done and things were quiet. I was wondering how friends and family and “Facebook friends” were doing. I also noticed that many of my iPhone apps used Facebook to log into them. I found myself fighting the urge to get back on the social networking site. But within hours, I caved. Yes, ladies and gentlemen. I was only able to stay off Facebook for a grand total of 24 hours.

That is not to say that the one-day break didn’t help my mood. I actually felt a little more at peace and like a weight was lifted. It was nice to take a break and “disappear” for a while. My mom, who is a bit of a Facebook addict, texted me the morning after my Facebook disappearance and asked if I quit…she was actually worried about me for doing that. It was cute.

Anyway, something else I decided to try is to listen to  my iPod in the morning on my way to work. I notice that I’m in a much better mood when I walk into the office with my earbuds in and my music playing. Triple better with a cup of Genmaicha tea in my hand from Coffee Bean. There is something psychological that takes place for me when I purchase a tea or coffee from a Starbucks or Coffee Bean, rather than use the free supply at work. Not good for my pocket-book. But if it makes my morning a little bit happier for a while, I think I will have to partake.

I’ve vowed to try to be better about getting daily exercise. I do try to go to the gym or take a brisk walk around the park most days, but there are days when I just want to come home and be lazy. Especially when I am upset about my career and the lack of direction I feel in that aspect of my life.

In the meantime, I’m going to continue to add to my Happiness Project activities list. All activities, big and small that may have a positive affect on my attitude will be given a chance.

Any readers out there? If so, are there things that you do every day to try to stay positive and happy?

Career Counseling

Last week I met with a career counselor.  The grad school I attended has career counseling services for current students and alumni. I thought that perhaps this could help guide me on the right track.

The counselor I met with was very nice and had some good ideas. Some of them I had already practiced (i.e. set up a LinkedIn profile, connect with people, etc.) but she did have ideas that I hadn’t thought of before. I took an online assessment test and am meeting with her next week to go over the results.

I must say that this “place” I’m in right now in my so-called-career…it’s not good. And I knew I was upset about it, but I didn’t realize how deeply this terribly yucky feeling of worthlessness had crept in my psyche until I started tearing up with the career counselor. Before I knew it the tissues were out and I was wiping away tears. She was very understanding, but I would be lying if I didn’t say it was a bit embarrassing.

My follow-up with her is Wednesday. I hope to have some more info then.

My “One-Third-of-Life” Crisis

I’ve heard the “Quarter-Life Crisis” is the new “Mid-life Crisis.”  When I was in my mid-20s I somehow had managed to escape this anxiety-ridden event.  And then the age of 30 came…

Before I elaborate, perhaps I should give any readers out there (I wonder if I will have any) some background.

I’m 31 years old, married to my wonderful husband for almost two years (our anniversary is coming up this September). We live in an amazing city that I am proud to call home.Things in my personal life are rather good.

My professional life is another story. Perhaps my so-called-career looks decent on paper, but every day I set foot into the office I feel like a caged animal and it takes everything in me not to burst into tears before I reach the ladies’ restroom. How pathetic.

Or sad.

Both perhaps?

How did I get here?

How did I end up feeling under-appreciated, invisible, and non-existent?

One thing is for sure–something has to change and it has to change soon. This is not healthy and this is no way to live my life.

So I started this blog as I embark on my journey towards discovering what truly makes me happy and how I can use this source and translate it into a fulfilling and rewarding career.  After working in my current industry for nearly 9 years, the last 7 in my current company, it is time for a change. The question is…where do I go? What do I do? And can I find something I enjoy doing that also pays the bills?