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Dear Fiona,
It may be the colder weather but I have been feeling very negative at work and dread the thought of the week starting. How important is how I feel about Mondays when it comes to working out my career future?
Thanks,
Erik

Dear Erik,

I’ve been there. I got to the stage of crying on a Sunday night at the thought of going to work the next day. It’s a terrible feeling and it’s the reason I now do what I do – I vowed I’d help as many people as possible who felt that way NOT feel that way.

You need to be a realist – it’s not realistic to expect that you will LOVE your job every day. We all have times when we’d rather pull the doona back up over our heads and sit the day out. That’s natural.

However, I recommend to clients that you aim for 70/30. That is, 70 per cent of the time you enjoy your job – you look forward to the work, to seeing the people you work with, and to talking to and working with clients. Then 30 per cent of the time work may not fill you with so much joy. Maybe you have a difficult conversation coming up, or you have stopped growing and need to start learning new things.

So the question you need to ask yourself is: is this a 30 per cent thing? Or is it more serious? If it’s more serious you may need to consider a change in your working environment, or perhaps in your career full stop.

How do you know? I recommend you take the following steps:

  1. Can you pinpoint when you started feeling like this? Was there one particular incident that you can isolate? If there is, chances are this feeling may pass in time if you address the issue.
  2. Do you feel like you have what you need in your career to keep you happy? For example, do you have the recognition you want? The professional development? I use a simple tool called The Career Wheel to help my clients work out what’s missing for them. Email me at fiona@fionacraig.com.au if you want a copy.
  3. When you work out what’s missing, you need to know whether it can be fixed in your current role. That will most likely involve a conversation with your boss to talk about your career – current and future.
  4. If the missing elements are fixable, you need an action plan to make it happen. For example, If you love client contact and you are not getting enough of it, a plan might include creating a list of clients where you could be the initial point of contact. Obviously, this approach needs input and support from your manager.
  5. If the missing elements are not fixable, then you need a different action plan. You need to consider other options. This is a time when you need to take a breath, step back, and not make any rash decisions. Seek advice from people you trust and others in-the-know.
  6. Most importantly, you need to understand whether this is a one-off incident caused by current circumstances, or whether you need professional help to deal with potential mental health issues. Feeling like this every day is not normal.

My last piece of advice is to remember that you have a long career. I was with a 47-year-old lawyer recently who is very unhappy and ready to move on. I reminded her she has about 20 years left to work (not sure she was happy about that!).

The point is, your career is a marathon, not a sprint, and you will experience many times of highs and lows. Ride the waves consciously, and enjoy!


Fiona Craig

Fiona Craig is dedicated to building brilliance within the legal industry through professional speaking, training and coaching with groups and individuals. To work with Fiona, visit fionacraig.com.au or connect through SmartWomen Connect.