Nothing can be so true for so many of us as being trapped in a 9-5 job but also not being an Entrepreneur so we can do things they way we want to do them and work for ourselves.
Lets make it absolutely clear right up front: there is nothing wrong, at all, working a 9-5 for someone else. You read that correctly, there is nothing wrong with working a 9-5 job at a company that is not your company.
If you have been reading my blogs, followed my teachings, or reading other blogs and teachings you may get the impression that being an entrepreneur is the only way to go. You may have assessed that an entrepreneur is the best thing since sliced bread. A lot of people preach this is the only way to truly live. I myself am in the school of thought that you should be able to do what you want in life and not have to have a 9-5 job. There is one important distinction you may not have realized by my school of thought and teachings however. My school of thought comes by being in the creative community and working with creative types like musicians, artists, photographers, dancers, fashionistas etc. etc. In this line of work/community I do believe that doing things your own way and starting some type of business model based around your creativity is the ideal way to go. But this is the creative community, it is not the same thing as being a programmer or a lawyer, for instance, and starting your own business in this field.
The creative community versus the lawyer (for instance) community are the same thing but also not the same thing.
It isn't the same thing because a creative person is usually creating very unique things based off what their quirky brains come up with, like my quirky brain. A lot of time us creative people live and breath our art and we always would rather be doing our art than having to work for someone else and loose precious time everyday not being able to do our art. It is a little different mind set than being someone who is a lawyer or a an HR person or a GM of a restaurant. For us creatives, it is all about the creativity and our creativity can be hindered by having to constantly do something else, like being a server, everyday because it is not in our line of "work." This is to say, if you are a musician but need to work as a server to pay the bills, serving is not really doing anything for your music while you are serving. Not really anyways, unless you are using the experience of being a server to give you ideas for lyrics, but even then it is not the same line of "work." On the other hand, if a person is a General Manager of a restaurant and works in a restaurant it is in the same line of work as your skill set you strive to be doing and work on.
It is same thing because we all need to survive in our lives and earn some type of income so we can have food in our bellies and a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs. It is the same thing in the sense that whatever it is that we are passionate about is ideally what we are doing in life to have all of our basic needs met.
If you are a musician it can be really hard to find another musician who can pay you and have you work for them 9-5. If you are a lawyer it can be much easier to find another lawyer or law firm you can work for instead of opening up your own firm. This is the distinction that separates the two worlds of creativity and pretty much all other lines of work.
This post is geared more towards all those other lines of work while also offering insight for the creatives that it is ok to work a regular 9-5. There is nothing wrong with it.
What does a person do that feels trapped in their 9-5 job but is also not the entrepreneur type of person? They are not the type of person to want to start their own business but can't seem to be happy in their job or career. They feel like a piece of them is missing every time they go to work and even think about quitting but if they quit what else is there. They figure if they quit they are going to end up getting another job doing the same thing but it will just be for a different company.
Sometimes change is a very good thing and sometimes you actually need to quit and go find another job at a different company. This could be for several different reasons, like perhaps the current company has no more room for growth for you. Or maybe your boss is to difficult to deal with. Maybe you have been sexually harassed and even though HR and the company have dealt with it (hopefully) and made it a better environment for you the fact that it did happen and now every time you go to work it brings up these bad memories makes you want to leave. Whatever the reason, sometimes you have to move on. But sometimes moving on is also the wrong answer.
We can't deny the serious reasons why you would want to move on and it is important to cut your losses if the reason for wanting to leave are serious. But in order to make the distinction, what is and is not serious, you really have to think one step deeper and use Metacognition before you make haste. If its just because you are not happy, now is the time to get to the root of why you are not happy.
What was it about the current company that originally excited you about it and made you want to work there? How did you feel when you first started working there? What made you choose this place instead of the other place? Think back to those first early memories of when you were happiest there: what were you doing, who were you talking to, how did you feel when you completed the task, if you were putting in extra hours what was it that sparked this momentum (if it was because you were happy and excited to put in the extra hours)? Start asking yourself these types of questions to get back to why you were happy back then.
Once you have gotten back to why you were happy back then, start to ask what started pulling you away from the happiness and started to make you unhappy. When did your happiness move to unhappiness?
Is there anyway to get the happiness back? Find the bright spot and focus on them. See if those bright spots are achievable again, if you can brings these back into your job... they may not be lost forever.
- When you wake up in the morning, what is the first small sign you'd see that would make you think, "Well something must have happened - the problem is gone!"
- (Or) What's the first small sign you'd see that would make you think the problem was gone?
- (Or) If a miracle solved your problem, what would you be doing differently the next morning?
- How would your day be different if you __________?
- What will you do instead?
- How could they tell that?
- What else?
The Miracle Question is an excerpt from the book Switch; how to change things when change is hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
I think sometimes when we feel trapped it is because we have lost our way, lost that original feeling of excitement we once had. I do believe it is possible to get that excitement back and very good news for all of us who feel trapped. Part of how to start to get the excitement back is to work through the questions I have asked and work through the Miracle Question. The Miracle Question is pretty much one of the most awesome things in the world.
Once you have worked through the questions and Miracle Question you will have a pretty solid foundation of where to start getting your happiness and excitement back in your job. Your answers can be used as a road map and guide and will also help you understand where things went wrong. The answers can spark new ideas on how to improve your job and bring in some fresh new paths and fresh new opportunities. The answers could also help you determine that maybe it is time to move on.
The thing is, you never want to make haste in your choices, especially about a job that is giving you the money you need to survive. Even if you do determine to leave, knowing the answers to the questions and Miracle Question will guide you to make the correct choice about the next place. From there you have to take your time and keep your eyes open in regards to another job you are considering in making sure you have properly done your research about them. There is nothing worse than leaving your current job for another job you thought was going to be better for you, only to find out the new job isn't what you thought it was going to be or the culture does not line up with your personality.
Above all, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to re-capture the excitement you once had or to make it exciting again by perhaps creating a new department or new way of doing things or even taking on new responsibilities that you have never done before. It is also entirely possible that maybe you can switch departments that better suite you current state instead of leaving the company all together. And why not get back into doing your current role the best you possibly can. Maybe because you have felt trapped you started slacking a bit and do the bare minimum... switch this around and even make a game out of it. Get into doing your role perfectly then start going above and beyond, by doing this you may just find a way to streamline things that improves the whole company or maybe it creates a whole new role in the company that now you get to head up because it was your skills that created it. You never know.