Thursday, December 2

I’m sad at work and I don’t know what to do with my life | Work and careers


The question I am 37 years old, have a lovely husband and a wonderful son, and a job in the creative industries. The problem is that I have not been happy in my career for a long time and I have felt very stuck, and every once in a while I end up crying because I just don’t know what to do with my life. I was a superproducer in school (I worked hard, I got my grades, I went to a good university), but now I’m in a role where there is little progression and I’m not sure I want to stay in this career.

I realize that I have spent so much time trying to do what is expected of me that I have no idea what I want to do. I am also ashamed of how long I endured in my 20s. I went after men I knew deep down that I didn’t like and took on all sorts of extra tasks at work with the promise that it would look good on the CV, but got few promotions.

I’m relieved that at least I finally realize this behavior, but I’m terrified that it’s too late. I’ve been applying for a job, but there aren’t many companies that want a mother approaching 40. And, as I say, I’m not sure I want to stay in this field. Please help.

Philippa’s answer Isn’t it great that your relationships with your partner and your child are working? It seems like you had an epiphany back there and stopped looking for the people you thought you should go for and instead chose someone you liked and loved. Good job. It gives me the confidence that you can also do the next self-development work you need.

So again, it’s time to examine your “homework.” The “shoulds” are often the assimilated wishes of other people and your culture. Absorbing all these introjects, he assumed that he should work hard in school, he should go to college, he should work in a competitive industry, he should rise to the top. Trams that fit a lot of people, but by no means fit everyone and I’m glad you’re listening to your own feelings now because this means you’ll be able to make the adjustments you need to head in the right direction. They have been ticking the boxes that others expected them to tick, but not all have, so far, necessarily been their boxes.

I think your fear comes from having a kind of years and milestones board game in mind: which milestone you should reach in which year. This is based on those duties that you have absorbed. This is not a useful game. A friend of mine co-founded a creative industry startup in the 1980s (natthecat.co.uk), so don’t think you’ve lost the game if you’ve reached a certain number without a particular milestone; you don’t need to play that game. Find another game.

Reading his e-mail, I can’t be sure if it’s the failure to make it to the top that is distressing him or the job itself. I’m not sure if he’s unhappy due to a relative lack of status and an inner voice saying, where’s my promotion? Or if this unhappiness has to do with the nature of the job itself. I wonder if you can undo and separate the two.

I think so far when it comes to work, you’ve been working hard to be seen doing the right thing, doing things for your CV rather than satisfaction in the present. You need to make more internal references, that means figuring out how things feel to you and making fewer external references, which is what things see to others. Things should be less about how they look and more about how they feel. You know this, but I’m spelling it out: the more we put these things into words, the easier it is to handle.

If you like the job, but don’t appreciate the lack of advancement, it could be about staying in your industry, but finding another group of people to work with who are better suited to you. Turn what you see as a disadvantage into an advantage: Being a parent means you use your time well and can set priorities; Over 35 means you have a lot of experience, thinking positively like this means that you will bring a more positive attitude to interviews.

But if you find out that you don’t even like the job, well, the best part is that you can start a new business or retrain for a different job or profession, and if you can afford it, take a break to give it a try. other things to see if you like. I think the biggest risk you take is staying in a place that makes you unhappy.

Think about whether your work should be meaningful and / or enjoyable. Are the social aspects of work important? Or do you prefer to work alone? What comes to mind when you think of “commitment and excitement”? “Reward”, what comes to mind? “Compliance”, “money”. Don’t push yourself to find out, but write these words down, think about them, and see what comes to mind. Treat this as a kind of meditative mental storm; do not reject any idea, it could scare the other ideas if you do. You can’t rush this. Write down pictures or words that come up from doing this exercise. Then look at those again and see what fits for you. And in the transition periods I think it is a good idea to write down your dreams and see what feelings and images are repeated in them as well. Dreams can provide us with useful metaphors that can help us figure out what we need.

Get off those streetcars. You’ve been playing a game, it’s time to find another one. You got this.

If you have any questions, please send a short email to [email protected]


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