A Closer Look at Career Contentment

Career contentment is a virtue as well as a roadblock

I spoke with someone who felt stuck in his career but at the same breath also gave a disclaimer: he was in fact happy with the company he was working for and in his job. He felt he needed more support from his leader and was clearly craving for development career-wise.

I sensed the tension between ‘being happy in your job’ and ‘wanting more’. I sensed the tension between the push and pull between contentment and striving for growth. Happiness and experiencing sufficient job satisfaction is one reason to remain in place. It’s very practical to stay in that comfort zone of work where nothing is actually broken that needs fixing. That’s the most logical thing to do…or is it?

In this situation, there was a feeling of foolishness for even thinking of other career options when things were actually working very well. But that was only on the surface. In the course of our coaching conversation, we discovered that although he was happy going to work everyday, there was a desire for much more. There was potential there that remain untapped and he wanted to see where it could take him.

It is a good thing to be content, especially when it’s rooted in gratefulness. Being content in a job, and for the rewards a company provides, deserves its place, especially in a world where so many operate on entitlement. With the rate of unemployment and underemployment all over the world, I also see how contentment is a very practical virtue.

It is a good thing to be content, especially when it’s rooted in gratefulness. Being content in a job, and for the rewards a company provides, deserves its place, especially in a world where so many operate on entitlement.

But what about the tension? That push to do more? Do we remain content with being content?

Two Perspectives

If you are in the same situation, here are two perspectives that may provide some insight.

Perspective 1: You see benefit to staying where you are, otherwise, you would be experiencing discontent/dissatisfaction and would probably not be there by now. Whatever that benefit is — pay, good work environment, comfort zone, potential for promotion, etc — it is probably enough to keep you where you are. To take advantage of this situation, you can actively seek opportunities for more growth and support. Develop yourself and thrive in your environment!

Perspective 2: Could it be possible your contentment is actually fear in disguise? Fear of starting over? Fear of failure? Fear of the unknown? Fear of {insert fear here}? First, wanting more for yourself requires no apologies. Second, it’s a choice to stay where you are and wait for the growth you desire to come. However, by choosing that, you are also saying ‘no’ to the possibility of success in a new role or job or career. You are also putting aside the possibility of expanding your skills and developing yourself through a change. Take a long-term view of your career and see whether you are on the path toward your goals.

Which is which? It takes some ‘inner work’ and reflection to assess where you really are at your crossroads.

Contentment at the Crossroads

If you discover that you are where you need to be at this point in your career, then make the most out of it by actively seeking growth opportunities without leaving your current line of work. Your growth opportunities can be found in (assignments, projects) and outside (education, side hustles) of your work! Be very aware though, that the tension may arise again, so listen to your desires well.

If you discover that you are actually just settling than thriving, then create steps to move toward your career/life goals in a timeline that’s best suited for you. You must respect your desire to grow. While you deliver where you are, you can take action toward finding opportunities to pursue what would fulfill your desires. It doesn’t have to be right away, unless you are ripe and ready for that. Just don’t procrastinate on the career that you could possibly bring more joy and meaning to your life. The sooner you make a move, the closer it gets.

Any tension or feeling ‘stuck’ in our career calls us to reassess our goals, the actions we take and choices we make. I help people unravel thoughts and beliefs to find clarity in career crossroads. For more details, visit www.kittyferreria.com.

Photo credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/

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