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How To Find More Work You Love When You Feel Stuck In Your Day Job

The answers are already inside of you

Photo by on Unsplash

It was 5 P.M. and the alarm went off. It was time for me to get ready for work.

I moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in filmmaking, but I ran out of money so I went back to my previous day job as a pharmacist.

The crappy part was in Los Angeles, there weren’t many good positions left for pharmacists. It was now too saturated and the only position I was able to find was an overnight shift.

I had a wife and kid to support and I felt like a failure. We didn’t have insurance or any other benefits for that matter so I reluctantly took the full time position for the graveyard shift.

When I was approaching my one year anniversary on the job, I couldn’t help but feel my heart sink.

“Is this really all there is for me?” I thought as I sat at work delirious from being awake in the middle of the night.

I couldn’t imagine myself living like this anymore. Especially if it was work that only drained my energy. I had a good job, but I was not enthusiastic about it at all. In fact, if I was honest, I only took this job for the financial security and benefits, but don’t we all? There are bills to pay!

Are you in a similar boat as me?

Is the purpose of your job only to produce a paycheck?

Do you wake up in the mornings and drag your feet dreading having to spend another day doing the same thing each day?

Maybe like me, you know what it’s like to feel stuck and out of ideas on how to take your career towards something you imagined for yourself.

If so, I’d love to share a little bit about what I did to at least position myself at my job to do more work I love while figuring the next steps out.

Studies have shown 50.8% of Americans reported being “not engaged” in their jobs and 17.5 percent being “actively disengaged” according to a Gallup study.

This means more than half of Americans don’t feel like they are utilizing their fullest potential and roughly one-sixth of them absolutely hate their jobs.

The study went on to say:

“Employee engagement entered a rather static state in 2015 and has not experienced large year-over-year improvements in Gallup’s 15-year history of measuring and tracking the metric. Employee engagement has consistently averaged less than 33%.”

There is something clearly wrong with this picture. Why are most Americans not engaged with their work?

There are many discussion topics about why employees aren’t engaged when it comes to an organizational level, but here I want to discuss this issue at an individual level.

We Are Disengaged From Our Work When There Is No Room For Growth

Photo by Niklas Hamann on Unsplash

I think we can all agree we become disengaged with our work when it becomes a routine and there’s no room for growth. It’s feels like you clock in at work to get inside a hamster wheel and run for 8 hours then get off and clock out.

I got to a point I couldn’t take it anymore. The overnight schedule was taking a toll on me and I wanted to be with my family more.

I knew I had to do something and do it quick. I wanted to quit, but I couldn’t find any other suitable job postings and the ones I applied to hadn’t replied back. We still needed to get back on our feet financially so trying to transition my career again wasn’t an option either at the time.

That’s when it hit me.

What if there was a position in my current line of work that involved activities I enjoyed doing? What options were there to be more involved with the types of activities that engaged me?

Quitting Your Job Is Not Always The First Answer

Photo by Justin Luebke on Unsplash

If you hate your job, you can try to pivot within your workplace first.

As I continued to brainstorm, I knew the type of work that mattered to me most involved:

· Using critical thinking to solve problems

· Empowering others to activate their talent and potential

· Being a part of a talented group to develop innovative creations and processes

These were not just things I enjoyed doing, but it also was what I was good at.

When I was trying to see what kind of positions fit my criteria, I realized the best fit was a supervisor position.

The problem was, I had absolutely no pharmacy supervisor experience. Luckily, I realized a few important things to be able to get this job.

You’ve Probably Already Built Up Experience You Can Use To Give You the Edge You Need

Photo by Jake Hills on Unsplash

I had always done things I enjoyed doing on my own leisure time, well, because I enjoyed it.

I’ve led teams to multiple countries around the world on projects working with organizations that fought against human trafficking, drug trafficking and poverty. During my time as a professional filmmaker, I’ve led high profile projects working with large crews and celebrities.

Leadership was something I always resonated with so the fact I’ve already taken initiative to lead projects on my own gave me the qualifications to apply for this position.

Long story short, I ended up getting promoted two levels up from staff pharmacist to pharmacy supervisor within twelve months of being permanently hired.

Here are some of the things I did to land the job with no qualifying experience:

1. Being Proactive

I shared with my supervisors I was highly interested in a leadership position and would love to be kept in the loop if anything comes up or if they can give me any referrals. I kept looking at the HR Job board to see if a position opened up as well.

More Importantly, now they know I’m interested, I wanted to show them how interested I really was. I proactively asked a lot of questions about what they looked for in their supervisors and what I can do to meet the criteria.

A few positions did open up and I managed to get interviews for them, but I didn’t get the jobs.

Not too long after that, another position opened up and I got called in for an interview again.

2. Visualizing the Interview In My Head

My presentations in my previous interviews addressing how I have strong leadership skills outside of the pharmacy workplace was good, but I realized it was still a setback. I knew I had to do something to give me more edge.

One thing I did differently this time was to visualize in my head how the interview would go. I knew this position was for an IT Pharmacy Supervisor position so I figured they would ask me what my thoughts were about the current system utilized in our hospitals.

Before the interview, I wrote out a list of all the things I experienced issues with and would love to help find solutions for and I went to the interview. Sure enough, they asked me the question and they were very impressed to see I had all of this thought out already as well.

3. Sharing My Why

If you’ve ever seen Simon Sinek’s brilliant TED Talk on the importance of communicating your why, you’ll know people don’t buy into what you’re doing, they buy into why you’re doing it.

My why was to create safe spaces for people so their fullest potential can be activated and I tailored it for the interview.

I made sure to make a point I have been looking to get into a supervisor position because I wanted to use my skills as a leader to empower the people I work with and cultivate a space where we continually grow so we can produce high quality patient care as a result.

After I got offered the position, I found out from a coworker her friend applied for the same position because he had a lot of experience with IT pharmacy. I also found out later on there were a good handful of others who interviewed as well who had more experience than I did.

I was grateful for the opportunity and even more so at the fact I can do work I enjoyed doing during my day job while working on my next transition to my dream job.

Positioning Yourself For Success

Are there any ideas you have where you can pivot your position within your current department to fall more in line with your talents and passions?

This was the key question I asked to be able to do more work I loved both on and off the clock. It was what made the difference of still having energy when I got home as opposed to being drained of it.

Maybe you’re not ready yet for a huge transition, but maybe a small transition will be the jumpstart you need.

The part you might not realize is you’ve been capable of this first transition all along.

So what are you waiting for?

Want to know what i did that half of Americans aren’t doing to be able to quit my day job and pursue my dreams?

Download my free guide, Getting Unstuck, One Practical Step to Get Out of The 9-to-5 Life.

Learn about the practical financial steps I took to be able to quit my day job and go on a cross-country road trip for two months and ending up in Los Angeles to try out full-time filmmaking for a year.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by 299,352+ people.

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Dr. Eugene K. Choi

Dr. Eugene K. Choi

Using neuroscience + technology to help frustrated leaders to maximize brain performance and solve problems faster. FREE training:

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