There are a lot of career sites right now advocating that we should all go out there and achieve our goals. Helpful articles about training, retooling, strategizing, networking, using social networking and honing our career skills on off hours. All of them are flowing with can-do vigour, brimming with positivity, energizing us for hours of intense searching until we finally hit that golden nugget: the job of choice. The job that we want or that we're perfectly qualified for. Like a caffeine buzz, it hits us like a flash, and armed with thoughts of 'yes I can!', we hit the google job search button and start scrolling like we're Indiana Jones looking for clues in ancient text.
Then, like the caffeine buzz, so follows the crash. The majority of people are unhappy in their jobs. The reasons are various and unoriginal; overqualified, underemployed, working in a non-relevant sector, stuck in a career with no advancement opportunities, boredom, bad management, cut backs, overload. Faced with all these things, it makes sense that there are loads of encouraging articles to help motivate the masses. The 'you are here forever' articles probably didn't make the last editorial cut.
Here's the problem with the perky messages: despite their valiant attempt to prop up the worker and empower them with options, many of them do not have those options. With a hard-hit economy, many people are simply losing their jobs, regardless of satisfaction levels. With so many cuts, the prevalent attitude of employers is that the remaining workforce should be happy 'just to have a job' and this does not make them receptive to leave for training opportunities or the like. It also doesn't serve the purpose of most employers to have employees go on training for professional development when they are understaffed. This is a luxury afforded to companies in prosperous times.
Searching for new opportunities in off hours may sound like a viable option, but just like 'popping by the gym after work', this option is usually better as a thought rather than a reality. Many of us have items in our personal lives to attend to outside of work, and some days, we just want to go right home and plop ourselves onto the couch after dinner. That doesn't make us shiftless or unambitious; energy, like many other things in life, is finite.
So is there any good news out of all this? Well, the average worker is not alone in their thoughts, their feelings and their obstacles to a better life. And as the articles rightly state, it is a matter of personal choice to better one's life or situation. But maybe instead of chasing after the rainbow of the perfect job, we should look to be happy elsewhere, in some other aspect of our life. Unlike the top 1% that doesn't need to worry about work and making a living, most of us don't have the choice of loving what we do. We can't refuse to work, but we can refuse to be defined by our work.