When we’re young, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, all we want is a career. A new, shiny career. Maybe we even want to change the world for the good. So you’re in your twenties or thirties, living the American Dream, with your corporate dream job. As the wise sage Rihanna once said, you work, work, work, work, work. And you work some more. For a few years. And you sort of lose that creative spark. You become part of it. Yep, corporate America. What you never wanted to become. There are a three main antidotes to this common affliction: self-reflection, distraction or simply a much-needed vacation.
When you feel like your job is killing your vibe, one way to deal with this is to take a minute, step back and self-reflect.
Do you need a career change?
Take a good look at your current job and ask yourself a few questions:
- Do I feel as though I’m making a positive impact on the world in some way?
- Are my strengths and skills being utilized to the fullest?
- Do I like the environment including my coworkers and my boss?
- Am I appreciated for the work that I do?
- Am I putting in the appropriate time and effort into my job?
If there is something off, try to change it. Maybe you don’t feel like your strengths are being leveraged appropriately. Maybe you aren’t getting paid enough. Try changing it, and if you feel like nothing is changing, it may be time for a job or a career change.
What else isn’t working in your life?
Clearly, there is more to life than our job. At least I hope so. Take a look at other areas of your life and ask yourself, what else isn’t working. Instead of focusing on the negative, ask yourself what you do want:
- What are my values? How do I want these values to show up in my life?
- Who do I want to spend my precious time with?
- What type of environment do I want to live in? (For example, do I thrive best in nature or in the city?)
- If I had a week “staycation,” what would I do with my time?
- When do I feel happiest?
- Where do I see myself in 1 year? 5 years? 10 years? (In all aspects of my life: career, romantic, friendship, personal development, spiritually)
It can help to journal these questions, because they are doozies. Reflecting on other areas of our lives can help us see where the tension lies, and what we want to change.
Some psychologists and even Buddhists say that distraction in the face of distress can be helpful. If you aren’t satisfied in your corporate job, you might try to gain fulfillment in other areas of your life, then see how you feel at your job. Maybe the “distraction” can help you initially gain the strength and clarity of mind to really look closely at your career or other areas of your life that are lacking.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the positive psychologist who popularized the phrase “state of flow” discusses this brilliantly in a Ted Talk. He talks about how activities can bring us into a focused, joyful and ecstatic state of mind — a type of alternate reality; and over time these experiences greatly enhance a happy and meaningful life.
Get yourself a new hobby or two
Most people experience this state of flow by activities or hobbies that they dedicate their time and effort to. Many hobbies, including outdoor activities like hiking and gardening, are scientifically proven to lower stress. Other hobbies that are more social allow you to open up your horizons by meeting new people and challenging yourself. Learning a new language, taking dance classes or a community college course can all stimulate your brain while building social connections, literally the key to a happy and fulfilled life.
Get outta town
Maybe you’ve done your self-reflection, even picked up a cool hobby. You’ve concluded that you like your job, despite its expected issues here and there. Maybe, just maybe, you simply need a frickin’ vacation. To counter your corporate America frazzlement (is that a word?) you need a place that is very not corporate, and not American.
- Costa Rica: It’s known for its untouched nature and amazingly friendly people, Costa Rica will have you seeing green for days which actually is good for your brain. You’ll get back to your job feeling refreshed and Zen-like.
- Tel Aviv: “The White City,” coined for it’s beautiful Bauhaus architecture, has an undeniably progressive, fun and rebellious spirit. If you book in advance you can find a good deal for flights to Tel Aviv. The city is tourist-friendly, gay-friendly and the nightlife is buzzing until the morning light. The tech-friendly city has bike rentals that you check out digitally, their own version of Uber called Gett, and a pretty extensive and efficient bus system.
- Cuba: Talk about the antithesis to corporate America. Because of Obama’s measures to lighten travel restrictions to Cuba, many have been taking advantage of this and heading over to experience a very unique and special culture. Most tourists feel as though they’re in a time capsule because of the 1950s cars and the non-existent consumer culture (there are no advertisements at all in Cuba).
It’s all good
At the end of the day, remember that dissatisfaction in your career from time to time is normal. When things are off, this gives us the opportunity to make course corrections. Many argue that corporate America is the backbone of the economy, necessary to fulfill the American Dream and gives the U.S. stability. With that being said, for an individual however, it can often times feel draining and like a hamster wheel. By reflecting on yourself, where you’re at and where you want to be, you can understand how to work with the ups and downs of a career, rather than against them. If your disillusionment seems temporary, then picking up some new “flow” hobbies, or taking a fun and meaningful vacation can also give you some zest and energy back, necessary for a jump-start in your career — and your life.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.