Is the Economy Taking a Toll on Your Career Plans?

The economy is taking a toll on finances, but does it have to take a toll on your job satisfaction? I have talked to so many people who want to make a change in their careers or jobs or switch companies, but are "staying put" until the economy improves. It's reasonable to expect that a major economic downturn would make anyone think twice about their timing; even more so if they are telling themselves:

"I just have to stick it out. I should feel lucky to have a job." "It's too risky to make a change right now." "I'd be crazy to do something now. After all, I am still getting a decent paycheck."

In this situation, there are two very important elements at odds with each other: the need for financial security and the need for more job satisfaction or fulfillment. This might lead someone to feel like they are trapped in a no-win situation. If you are in this predicament, here are three steps to help you work through it:

1. Assess your mindset

Are you starting each day with dread or some other draining negative feeling? If so, how could you start it in a way that would give you a more positive mindset? What energizing activities could you incorporate into your day whether it's exercising, having lunch with someone whose company you enjoy, or something else that's worked well for you in the past? Just remember that these don't have to be time consuming activities (e.g., reading something funny or inspirational), but they should energize you and make you feel more positive.

2. Focus on what you CAN do

Although there are many things beyond our control, we often overlook what we can do to improve our own situations. Start by identifying one or two things that would make working in your current role or company more satisfying. For example, you could volunteer for a project in an area you find exciting. These don't have to be huge changes, but should be changes in a direction that is important to you. What would it take to make those things happen? If you are not sure where to start, find someone who could help you brainstorm. Focusing on these things will make you feel more positive and empowered.

3. Take steps towards what you really want to do

Identify steps you can take right now that will make it easier for you to make a transition when you are ready to make a change. They don't have to be big or risky steps, but they do need to help you make progress towards what you really want. For example, you might focus on increasing your visibility internally in the company, networking with people who work in areas in which you have an interest, or saving more money.

We all know that the need for safety and security are essential, but it doesn't have to come at the expense of being miserable day-to-day. Small steps combined with even a small shift in your mindset can make a big difference.