Fulfillment in their career is something that most people looking for, though it can be hard to come by. And given that we spend a huge chunk of our lives at work, that's not an unreasonable ambition. But we also have to think of our overall well-being and ensure that we do not sacrifice our health and happiness in order to achieve career goals. Could you be making mistakes like these, that are holding you back and preventing you from finding the happiness you seek in your life and career?
Putting money first
We all need a decent income, and with living costs going ever upwards it's very tempting to pursue a higher income as your priority. But the problem is that the more you earn, the more you tend to spend, as you feel the need to upgrade your lifestyle accordingly. The end result is that you're not actually any better off in terms of disposable income – and you're definitely not any happier.
The fact is that in order to earn that higher income, you're obliged to work longer hours, which can come at a cost to your personal life and health. You may see less of your family, have less time to dedicate to the hobbies you love, and spend hours commuting in order to work in a location where you can earn that higher salary. When people talk about having a work-life balance, they have a very good point; few people truly thrive on working every hour at the expense of a personal life.
It's also important to remember that money and status are not the only satisfaction that you can gain from your career. Increasingly, people are choosing to sacrifice income for more hours spent with their family, or for a more fulfilling career. Feeling that you are making a difference can be a far more satisfying return for your time than simply banking a higher salary.
Not being pushy enough
On the other hand, if you're feeling frustrated at work because you aren't progressing as you'd like, it could be because you're not being pushy enough and making yourself stand out. Being nice won't always get you noticed. Taking a back seat isn't going to have your employer falling over themselves to promote you or give you that interesting post you'd love to try out. Instead, you'll lose out to people who are prepared to stand out – and that will leave you frustrated with yourself.
You need to learn to ask for what you want – and show that you've got what it takes to get it.
The popular perception is that when employers are recruiting, they will disapprove of candidates who have moved frequently from one post to another. However, this is not always the case. In fact, having a number of different jobs behind you and on your CV can actually work in your favor. It shows that you are versatile, keen to experience change and try new ideas and that you want to progress rather than simply stagnate in the same post.
People who prefer to stay in the same post risk being seen as resistant to change, incapable of progressing, and lacking in the ambition that will help a company to thrive. It can also be tedious for you yourself, as you grow tired of having the same experiences and tasks every day of your working life. Venturing outside your comfort zone and trying new experiences can really shake up your attitude and make your life feel fresh again.
Specialising too much
While there are undoubtedly some careers where a very narrow specialty is required, sticking with the same job endlessly can work against you. You will come to know a lot about your own job, but your knowledge will have no application in other fields and may even become obsolete before long – meaning that you are at a disadvantage when you come to seek new employment. Employers look for transferable skills, so that they don't have to dedicate weeks or months to training new staff.
Therefore, it is to your advantage to be more versatile and acquire new knowledge. Learn additional skills that might be useful, and keep updating your existing skills. You never know what may come in useful one day, and it will also help keep your mind working and curious.
Assuming your career will go up and up
Starting at the bottom of the ladder and working your way up until you reach the top (and eventually retire) is now a thing of the past. It's far more common to change career completely, move from one employer to another, have to retrain, or switch to being a freelancer. You may effectively have to start again, and that's something that a lot of people resent. They feel that they shouldn't have to go back to the beginning when they've already worked their way up. But we live in the real world, and careers don't always take the same trajectory that they used to. Nor do people stay with the same employer throughout their career.
To thrive in today's working world and feel satisfied with your work, you have to learn to adapt – and not feel frustrated with yourself if your career isn't always going where you'd like it to go. Find some reward in what you are doing, even if it isn't at the level you'd like, and accept that your career won't always head in an upwards direction. It will pick up again later.
If you're feeling unhappy and discouraged by the state of your career, that is bound to have an effect on your self-esteem. Take a hard look at your attitude and approach, and examine whether you're making any of these mistakes that are damaging your career and having an impact on your overall happiness. We can unwittingly sabotage our own wish to enjoy a fulfilling career by failing to take the correct approach. But if you're willing to learn, you can start to get your career back on track and be rewarded by the increased contentment that will result.