Six myths and excuses that keep you stuck in a dead-end job

Burned out. Stressed. Bored. Frustrated. Angry. Resentful. These are the words my clients use to describe their current job situation. Do any of them ring a bell?

One of my clients, Marie, 38, was full of regret about the time she spent with a renowned international consultancy firm. “Those years were a total waste,” she says today. Marie knew straightaway that she did not fit in with the company culture. Her views on what’s important in life clashed heavily with the company’s values. Despite that, Marie stayed there for five long years, putting up with a heavy workload and frequent travel. She completely lacked enthusiasm about what she was doing until the day she found the courage to leave for a nonprofit organisation where she felt much happier.

Why did it take her so long to leave?

Let’s take a closer look at the most common excuses we make that prevent us from being happier, more fulfilled, and realising our full potential in a new job.

 1. This is the best I can get

This myth is the most common one and is a huge dream-killer. It has variations such as “I should be grateful I have a job at all in today’s tough job market”, “there are no jobs out there”, “if I leave this job, I won’t be able to pay my bills”, “it’s not so bad” or “there are much worse jobs out there.” All those beliefs come from the fear of change – human beings feel safest in their comfort zone and cling to the status quo.  We tend to rationalise our dissatisfaction and suppress our desire for a more fulfilling job. If you get caught up in these fears, you will waste time.

2. We live in times of crisis.  Better to wait out for one more year

This myth is closely linked to the one above and is also based on the fears of uncertainty and failure. That one year you mean to stay in your company often turns into two, three, five… The more time goes past, the more difficult it is to make that change.  Remember that you have only one life and one chance to live it fully. The tough economic situation is not going to go away any time soon and you know that. As for other jobs out there, don’t fool yourself.  Yes, there are lay-offs, but new jobs are being created, advertised and filled by more confident job-changers daily.

3. I will lose all I have and won’t have stability anymore

Stability and certainty become more important as we grow older and have children.  There are added financial responsibilities and it’s harder to quit an old job and go looking for a new one. But it’s worth reminding yourself that these days, no job is guaranteed for life.  Companies merge, go through reorganisation all the time, and your seemingly stable job might disappear tomorrow.

4. I can’t change because of my degree or experience

Another fear-based common excuse. Another variation is “I don’t know how to do anything else”. Do you know that up to 65% of people globally work in fields unrelated to their university degree? For instance, what I do now (career coaching) is quite far away from the first two degrees I earned through the hard work at universities (media/journalism and economics/political economy). Nothing comes easily. A career change requires hard work and effort. The question to ask is: are you willing to get out of your comfort zone and learn new skills ?

5. I don’t know how to change, where to start or what I want

While this may sound like a legitimate concern, it is also an excuse that stops you from seeking external support, to clarify your goals, or find ways to change. Get a self-help book, hire a coach, enrol in an online course, move forward!

6. I am too old to change

My favourite clients are in their 40s – like myself – and I strongly believe that age is just a number.  Low self-confidence and the fears mentioned above are dominating you if you buy into this myth.  Have you tried to change?  Are you sure you won’t regret in five or ten years time that you didn’t give your dreams a try?

In a nutshell, whichever myth you are choosing to believe in, being burned out in a dead-end passionless career will slowly drain your energy and leach away any sparkle of life.

Stop lying to yourself and making excuses. At least be honest about the reasons why you choose to waste the time that you could spend in more meaningful way. The truth is that you are being held back by your lack of self-confidence and your fears.

We all have fears. That’s what makes us human. It’s what you do with your fears that makes the difference.  Do you let them dominate and guide your life and career, or do you choose to act and make empowering choices despite them? Would you still believe the myths above if you truly knew that you were a valuable asset and that any company in your industry would feel proud to employ you?

Be willing to get out of your comfort zone. Empower yourself with a new belief, something along the lines : “I was able to land this job, there is no reason why I can’t land another, better one. Let me see what’s out there. I can take calculated risks without throwing everything away.” And remember, the only thing that is constant is change.

(This article was first published in the international women’s magazine, Business-O-Feminin.)

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