According to The Conference Board Job Satisfaction survey, less than half of U.S. workers are satisfied with their jobs. Now is a great time to ramp up your career reinvention efforts and reflect upon what would gratify you in a career. If this is not the career you ordered, it's time to jumpstart your professional reinvention so you can regain control and thrive.
Sunday Night Blues: If you suffer from the Sunday night blues and dread the thought of going back to work on Monday morning, it's time to consider why. Bad jobs, even bad bosses are a reality -- but suffering is optional. If you are not playing to your strengths in a work environment that honors your professional values and your contribution -- it's time to explore other opportunities that can be a better fit. Perhaps you are underemployed, stuck on a low rung of the organizational ladder, or in a career field you simply don't enjoy. You have the power to make a change now.
Degrees of Reinvention: Not everyone wants a major career overhaul. Some will be happy with a few tweaks in a current organization. Consider pursuing a new role to satisfy the project envy you have for work in another department if you are happy with your company. Recharging an existing career is possible but first you need to assess your sweet spot -- what you do well that your company really needs.
If you want a full-scale career reinvention to explore a new field -- game on! It's possible as long as you can illustrate your value add to the employer in the new field and clearly articulate your relevant skills. Being in control of your professional story is up to you. Think like a salesperson and sell what you have based on what the employer needs that matches your area of interest. If you have no experience in a new career field, volunteering is a terrific way to learn the ropes and gain credibility in a new area.
Overcome The Permission Paradox: Don't let lack of experience paralyze you from moving forward with a career change or reinvention. According to Jim Citrin, Leader CEO Practice at Spencer Stuart suggests that you focus on your potential and your track record as a professional. In a LinkedIn blog, Citrin urged professionals to re-imagine their experience, get creative, be willing to start at the bottom and get credentials to empower them with the skills they need to succeed. You need not always add another degree to your pedigree. Micro-credentials and certificates -- even volunteer experience can make a difference.
Act Like a Winner: There is no room for whining and victim behavior in a competitive job market. If your job sucks, change it. Be resilient, focus on playing to your strengths and stay positive since employers hire for culture fit as well as skills. They can smell a bad attitude a mile away. Focus on the success of others as you cultivate your success strategy. Lead with your curiosity and be a learning animal.
Thinking intra-preneurially is essential within an organization since the innovative, resilient, and risk-taking mindset of an entrepreneur is valuable even if you are not running your own business.
Start with Self Reflection: Consider working with an advisor or a career coach and take quiet time to reflect upon your current values, interests, strengths and your personality and how these play a role at work. What you enjoyed career wise 5 years ago may have changed. Perhaps your life circumstances have changed after raising kids, taking care of elderly parents, or getting downsized after a merger or acquisition.
Who's Got Your Back? Assemble your Personal Board of Directors -- individuals with whom you can bounce ideas off of and ask questions. Ask them what they think you do well. You might be surprised to discover new ideas that you never considered, or skills you took for granted that really energize you. Be a mensch and pay-it-forward to someone else in need because perpetuating good career karma is the right thing to do. Successful leaders become even better by helping others.
Develop a Plan: Successful people recognize that it's up to them to decide their career fate. You must constantly bob and weave as a professional and you can change your mind and your career as often as you wish if you are willing to work for it. Give yourself permission to dream big and keep your skills and interests current so you can pursue the goals that may seem out of reach. Do your research, investigate opportunities, and nourish your network before you need it and you will always be ready.
Know Your Professional Brand: Your professional brand plays a major role in your current and future success. Gone are the days when you were defined by your resume or cover letter. With over 300 million users, you should have a compelling profile on LinkedIn but your brand must translate into sparkling conversation beyond an online profile. What sets you apart? What are you (or want to be) world-class at? What makes you unique? These are the building blocks of your brand.
A Job, a Career, or a Calling: Think about what you can't live without doing and you may discover a new career opportunity. Be purposeful, ask for help, and give yourself permission to thrive. Anyone can get a job. A career has meaning and gives you satisfaction and the ultimate calling is when what you do for a living never feels like work.
Life is too short to be miserable in your career. My mantra is: Enjoy Your Career. Love Your Life!
Caroline Dowd-Higgins authored the book "This Is Not the Career I Ordered" now in the second edition, and maintains the career reinvention blog of the same name. She is Director of Professional Enrichment at the Indiana University Alumni Association and contributes to AOL Jobs, CNN Money, the British online magazine - The Rouse and More Magazine online. She is working on a TV series about career & life empowerment for women and hosts the international podcast series Your Working Life - check it out on iTunes. Follow her on Facebook,LinkedIn, and Twitter.