Like it or not, the pandemic conditions we’ve been living with the past several months have probably eliminated many outside distractions from our lives. Because of that, you may have noticed other thoughts and feelings bubble to the surface.
Perhaps one thing you’ve discovered is that you truly don’t believe that the work you do matters at all. When all the everyday mental clutter—your commute, juggling social activities and schedules, and so forth—was cleared from your mind, you might have realized that what you spend a lot of time on each day lacks significance—at least for you.
While this may be a scary insight to have, you should wholeheartedly embrace it. Why? Because continuing to bury or ignore these feelings could make the situation get even worse over time. It’s better to catch it before it becomes so dire that you get sick or fired. Taking action to prevent either of those scenarios is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.
So, what do you do when you know for sure that your work doesn’t matter? Here are five key strategies you can try right now:
1. Get Clear
Figure out: Are you lacking purpose and fulfillment from your job? Or is it that you don’t enjoy your specific roles and responsibilities? This distinction is important. You need to be able to diagnose the issue in order to solve it.
A helpful starting place is to identify your Zone of Genius, the intersection of what you do best and the impact you seek to have on the world, then use it as a filter to understand whether your current job is working. For example, if you’re not using your Genius, that means you’re not being intellectually challenged. And if your work isn’t aligned with your Purpose, you probably don’t feel connected to what you do. Once you determine whether the issue is one or both, you can start finding the best solution.
2. Identify Hidden Opportunities
Now, before you start wildly scrolling through job sites, ask yourself: Is there something I can do at my current job that will fix the problem? Perhaps you could ask to be assigned to projects that are more aligned with your Genius. Alternatively, you could hone in on your self-awareness and try to find ways that you are having the impact you want, ways that perhaps you didn’t notice before. For example, my client Sharon was feeling a lack of motivation. When she slowed down and started to pay attention to how she was feeling throughout her work weeks using this Performance Tracker, she realized how much fulfillment she got from helping her team realize their potential. She decided to delegate some work that wasn’t related to management and double down helping her team. Within a month she felt instantly more fulfilled. You’ll be surprised—simply slowing down and becoming more observant can illuminate some fulfilling moments. If you can’t solve the issue in your current position, are there other opportunities in your organization that would be a better fit for you and your Zone of Genius? Before you throw in the towel, put some effort into seeing what’s available to you now.
3. Go Elsewhere
If you’ve tried to uncover a way to stay where you are and you know it just won’t work, then job searching is the next best step to take. I know—2020 may not seem like the best year to do this. But I actually think this is a great year for job searching because you can do the full process from home. This means that, if you’re still employed, there’s no need to hide from your colleagues or invent doctor’s appointments when you have interviews. Make good use of your work-from-home autonomy. There are plenty of opportunities out there. Believe it or not, many companies are still hiring—some more than ever!
4. Be Innovative
If, for whatever reason, you can’t look for a new job or switch things up at your current one, then you’ll need to get creative. In your free time, brainstorm side projects, or a business that could give you the challenge and fulfillment you’re seeking. You never know—this small venture could end up growing into a full-fledged business that allows you to leave your current gig behind once and for all.
My client Jason, for example, realized that he was no longer interested in staying in his job but he didn’t have the financial runway that would allow him to quit before deciding what to do next. Instead, he started a side business. This business ended up generating enough income within six months that allowed him to do what he wanted to do: quit his full-time job and have the space and time to figure out what the next right opportunity would be.
Initially, the side hustle was designed to make money so it wasn’t in his Zone of Genius, but surprisingly, the freedom he got from quitting his exhausting job allowed him to reinvent his side hustle into a business that was aligned with who he is and gave him the freedom he was seeking. Thinking outside the box ended up being a catalyst for him finally doing the work he loved.
Network, network, network. Even if you have a job you love, you should be doing this! I don’t mean going to networking events. We are still navigating an unpredictable virus, after all. But you can still connect with people virtually. Be bold. You never know how people will respond. Bottom line: You need a powerful network no matter what. If you make each connection matter, you’ll get closer and closer to finding work that matters, too.
Feeling like what you do isn’t important is not a fun place to be. But trust me—if you follow the above steps, you’ll be well on your way to finding a job in which you can be intellectually stimulated and make your desired impact on the world.