The Career Coach is In

Knowing when a job is too hard

Question:

If the work I do is hard for me, does it mean that I shouldn't be doing it?

Answer:

Thank you for this question, because I think there are too many people who believe that  "work is supposed to be hard, that's why they call it "work."  As a result of this mindset, they don't pay attention to signals that perhaps they would enjoy another line of work more. 

That said, something being hard isn't necessarily a clue that you are in the wrong career. I have watched plenty of people in jobs that they love take on big challenges and struggle to do things that they find hard. It's the context that's important.

Is it hard and you have no expectation that it will get better? Some jobs have a steep learning curve, but once you are on top, the work is enjoyable. Other jobs present a vista of unrelenting misery. That's the kind of hard that says "Find a new job!".

Is it hard because you need new or updated skills, but you can't bring yourself to spend any time on a skills upgrade? If you know that your job would get easier if you took a class, asked a colleague for help, focused for a few hours, and you just can't bear to do the work, then I would take that as a very clear signal that you should be considering another career.

Is it hard not because you can't do it, but because you know deep down that your heart isn't in it? I see lots of clients who are doing great work at their current job, but because they get no emotional satisfaction from it, the work leaves them drained. Definitely a sign to look elsewhere.

Or is it hard because on some level, you need it to be hard? Because if you aren't suffering, you haven't "earned" your paycheck? It may be a sign that different work would be easier, but it may also be a sign that the problem is more global--it affects (infects) every part of your life. If that's the case, I'd look more closely at the notion that suffering is necessary. Where did you learn that, and what evidence do you have that it's actually true? Until you understand why suffering is necessary to give something value, it will be hard to figure out what the suffering is trying to tell you.

By

Karen Chopra

 |  February 23, 2010; 10:57 AM ET  |  Category:  Career Change Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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