The Secret to Being Happy with Your Job


Spoiler alert: It's not "follow your passion"

by Najva Sol, Brand Manager

apw-squarespaceHappy necklace on career change seeker

One of the biggest complaints I hear about all the “follow your must,” “go for your dream” career change advice is, “What if there isn’t that magical ONE THING that I have to do?” Um, hi, hello. That’s me to a T.

A year ago today, I was in the process of styling what was to be the last lookbook of my high-end womenswear line. I was burned out. I’d been running my own hustle for two and a half years, and even though it should have been a dream? It was sucking me dry. I couldn’t explain why. The company was doing well by fashion standards: debuted at NYFW, been picked up by a few stores, and buzz was starting to make its way to important ears. I felt doubly shitty. First, because I was pouring time and money into something that wasn’t making me stoked, and second, because how dare I complain when my job was so… coveted?

Finally, the clothing line came to a breaking point. We either had to accept investment money, redesign our sales strategy, or fold. I chose to fold. Either of the first two decisions would have meant years of commitment and all of a sudden… I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

I was anchor-less (read: deeply depressed). I’d lost a bunch of money (it gives me anxiety to think about the exact numbers), and I had no idea what to do next. I knew that all great people have great failures (thanks, Brené Brown, for that one), but how do they figure out what’s next? What was it that wasn’t working for me? How do I make sure my next move isn’t a repeat? (P.S. I ask this after every breakup too.)

Being me, I started to research. I was reading books on motivation and fulfillment, going to therapy and breaking up with an abusive ex, so I was open to… changes (and a little magical thinking). Just like my barometer for dating was clearly broken, my career standards needed an overhaul. And somehow, the answer was super clear, and ridiculously simple.

(Pausing here to say: I know I’m lucky. Even though I’m a queer, Middle Eastern, and born female, I still had two parents who were college educated—the first in either sides of their family—who strongly supported my education above any other aspect of my upbringing. And obviously everyone isn’t always in a position to choose the ideal job situation for themselves in a given moment. Often the ideal is just whatever is going to pay the bills.)

Throw out everything you thought you knew

I figured out that biggest mistake I’d been making was asking “What job would I want?” instead of “What do I want out of my job?” In other words, I needed to shift from statements like, “I want to be a writer,” or “I want to be a fashion designer,” or “I want to run my own business,” to “I want a creative atmosphere,” or “I want to work in a team setting.” Because “I want to be a writer” doesn’t actually mean anything tangible.

I’ve had forty-plus different job titles over the years, and the ones that have made me happiest were not necessarily the titles I’d thought I wanted. Political photographer? Boring. Cocktail waitress in Coney Island? Best job ever. Poetry professor? Nightmare. Vintage store salesperson? I danced around the store, laughing all day. In fact, once I looked at it, obvious patterns started to emerge.

Make a list and check it twice

I wanted to know more about these patterns I was seeing. I like data, so I made a massive list of every workplace quality that had given me joy, and conversely, the ones that made me miserable. On the joy list I had things like working in natural light, ability to take mental health days, wearing what I want, feminist work environment, ability to use profanity, non-repetitive tasks, liking my coworkers. And my shitlist was a pile of unsurprising things: commute, having to be on time, feeling my boss doesn’t care about my opinion, hard sales, red tape, workplace gossip, pretending to be more conservative than I am, not having the freedom to speak my mind. And getting yelled at? Not worth the therapy. Both lists seemed obvious when I read them over, but I’d never broken it down element by element.

Find your why

Right before the lookbook shoot, my business partner turned to me and said, “Aren’t you so proud? We finished the collection!” I was flabbergasted because I realized that for me, the celebration never came from making the product. It made sense that my business partner, who is a trained maker, gained deep satisfaction from a creation finished. But what lit me up was when people wore my designs and felt uplifted.

And it hit me: that aspect was less than five percent of my job. That was a problem.

After that, I started asking everyone about what moment in their job made it worth it. The most memorable response came from an engineer who said his happened when he “solved the problem.” Not when the product was made. Not when it was delivered. Not when it was sold. Don’t get me wrong, many people listed more than one core moment. But it became clear that I needed more of whatever it was that made me stoked. Which, for the record, was spreading compassion and uplifting folks. Be it serving them a delicious meal, reading a moving poem, writing a relatable story, or designing a stunning outfit, that personal connection is my why. And it turns out I don’t have to be a fashion designer to do that.

Define your needs

In the book Drive, Daniel Pink talks about the “trifecta of happiness”: autonomy, mastery, and purpose (you can see more on his TED talk). And he postulates that employees only need managing because they aren’t being properly intrinsically motivated. Building on the concept of core workplace needs, I took a second look at my epic list… and started to whittle down the core needs I had for my next work environment. And much of it did fall under what autonomy, mastery, and purpose looked like for me. I need

  • to be valued for my singular perspective
  • a boss that I like… and think is whip-smart
  • to laugh, a lot (at all of the .gifs, for real)
  • rotating tasks that mean I’m constantly learning
  • to work remotely, with flexible hours (because I work best after midnight)
  • enough money to take money stress off the table
  • to feel like I’m trusted with tasks
  • freedom to be unapologetically myself
  • to be surrounded by people whose values I respect (#feministoffice forever)
  • a creative outlet
  • opportunities to get really nerdy and research the Internet
  • to spread compassion

For other people, this list could look SO DIFFERENT. Perhaps purple hair isn’t as important as health benefits. Maybe you like an office you can leave at the end of the day. But your needs are yours, and only you know what they are.

MAKE IT HAPPEN

You know what identifying your core values lets you do? It lets you sift through the billion jobs on the Internet in an effective way. I opened my search wide open: media jobs, photography gigs, marketing, branding, event production… I wasn’t tied to any specific industry, or position. I just read through the descriptions to see if it hit all the marks.

It was then that I stumbled on APW’s listing in a friend’s Facebook feed. Surprise! I was very single, and had never considered reading a wedding site, much less working at one. But curiosity, and a dedication to being actually open-minded lead me to read the content manager description. And one by one, I felt the checkmarks ticking.

I read through APW’s archives and realized I liked the site. Really liked it. The vibe, the community, the glitter… I was into all of it. I felt a hum running through my system… “Yeah, this job is the one,” I remember thinking. Sure, I was the only applicant—of a zillion applicants—who wasn’t already an APW reader. But I more than made up for it in researching the archives, penning extensive writing samples, and pure hunger. I was confident going in that I wanted it, because darnit, I’d made a list. It wasn’t my dream job; it was my future job. My dream job was the one I’d just quit.

And what happened? Four rounds of intensive interviews later, I got an offer. A few months of somewhat overwhelming training and pre-maternity leave craziness, and I was full-time. I had a total moment of panic: I never thought I’d work for anyone else full time, I never thought I’d write at a wedding site, I never thought… but then I breathed. Because working at APW is everything I wanted. And still want. And if one of my core needs shifts (because hi, only human) I work in the type of place that would be willing to hear me out. And that’s the reason I’m here in the first place. I’d need that level of care from my workplace. Maybe not everyone does, but if you do, you better know it.

It seems like something we should start doing when we’re kids: paying attention to how we learn, and how we work, and designing our lives that way. But that’s not how we’re taught to set career goals. It could utterly shift your job satisfaction (aka quality of life). And if you needed any confirmation of how good a fit my job is? My recent un-asked-for raise included a note encouraging me to travel anywhere in the world and explore any side gigs I was excited about. I almost cried, y’all. Last year this time I was utterly lost, and now I’m buying tickets to South Korea and smiling to myself while working.

Turns out we all deserve to be happy, and sometimes happiness looks like working at a wedding site.

Tell us APW: are you happy in your workplace, oR ARE YOU in the rad place of FIGURING SHIT OUT? If you’re solid in your werq: How did you choose your career? Were you one of those magical people who were born knowing, or did you have to do some serious searching to get to this position? Let’s get real about what we need (other than a #feministoffice, obvi). 

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This post was sponsored by Squarespace. Throughout the year we’ll be partnering with Squarespace to bring you a series of career conversations about what it means to be a woman in the workplace in 2016. If you’re in the market for a new job or looking to explore your options, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to create home online where you can show off your work in the form of a portfolio site, an online resume, or another hub where you can display just how awesome you are. And it just so happens that Squarespace provides the creative tools that make it easy to build it beautiful, even if you’ve never made a website before and have no idea where to start. In conjunction with our career series this year, Squarespace is offering APWers a 10% discount on yearly subscriptions when you use the code APW16 at checkout. Click here to get your website started today with a free 14-day trial from Squarespace.

Najva Sol

Najva Sol is a queer Iranian-American writer, photographer, branding consultant, artist, and ex-poet.  She’s the token staff Slytherin and—while formally based in Brooklyn—tends to travel as much as possible. Storytelling is her life, but making chicken broth is a close second.
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  • Danielle

    Yes to not following your passion. I also followed my passion in a creative field, and was severely disappointed in what followed — not enough $$ or respect, getting burned out on the work so I didn’t actually want to create for myself anymore. Only 6 years later do I want to return to that creativity, in my own form, off-hours.

    I’ve been listening to a few audio books lately and they both reference this idea:

    1) Liz Gilbert in “Big Magic” has a chapter on not following your passion. Because what if you’re just not passionate about something. Her answer: follow your curiosity. I just love that answer!

    2) Shonda Rhimes in “The Year of Yes”: listen to her Dartmouth commencement speech for this one (although, the audio book is amazing and has me literally LOLing every few minutes). She says, “stop dreaming, start doing” :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuHQ6TH60_I

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      Oooh follow your curiosity. I feel like that’s so much more helpful advice.

      • Danielle

        I know, right?! As Liz Gilbert says, curiosity won’t make you quit your job and leave your spouse. And at the very least, you will live an interesting life in which you followed your curiosity, and that’s not a bad thing ;)

  • Juanita

    Working currently as a caregiver for a woman with Alzheimer’s soon to transition into working as a tutor at a charter school. I love this. I know that writing, personal connection, being valued, caring and mentorship are all things I really want to do as part of my work. Plus financial security. So while there have been downsides to my current job because I have felt so valued by the family I work for its been easy to find the joy in things. I really appreciate seeing your experience of pursuing work based off your needs, not just a job title. It’s not the advice I was given in college.

  • Kermit

    This piece really resonated with me. Working for two years in a corporate law firm has really helped me to articulate what I like and don’t like on a day to day level and made me realize that this matters to me more than the particular field of law. What I am finding more difficult is the next step, of finding those things in a job search. This may be specific to law, but I find that when searching you can find a post for “environmental lawyer” or “litigator” but it’s much harder to find the posts for “likes lots of different things but cares a lot about brainstorming and working with teams” and “job where when you get an email your pulse doesn’t quicken in an automatic stress response”. Even when I do find jobs that seem more like that, I end up feeling like I’m behind the curve, because they are looking for someone with several years experience in a narrow subject area. When talking to folks about jobs, they are more likely to ask me about my substantive interests, rather than the type of processes/day to day activities I would like in my career. I am impressed that the author of the post was so open minded with your search, but as someone who has invested so much time into becoming a lawyer, I’d like to try and stay at least somewhat in this field, but still find a job that ticks off the stuff on my list.

    • Anonymous

      Any volunteer opportunities that could give you some experience? Not a lawyer, but perhaps you can gauge the tempo of a particular field through volunteer work while also gaining relevant experience if it seems to your liking.

    • Vilmos Kovacs

      Lawyer here – I think specializing gives you so much freedom down the road to find that right fit. If you know one area of the law really well, you can decide where to deploy that knowledge (industry/government/firm). The hard thing with the law is that no one wants to hear someone practicing for 10 years say, “Let me research that for you.”

    • Caitlin

      I’m not sure about the idiosyncrasies of law, but in my experience, fit/culture is rarely explicitly stated. However, there are sometimes clues in the job description, like must be flexible to meet demands of the job, if they are calling that out, then they probably mean its a job where you are expected to stay late or work weekends (usually). Where this really comes out though is in interviews, which can be either after the application or you can use informational interviews in your job searching. These are informal sessions with current employees to learn more about the company, its values, challenges, and how you may fit into it. They can be a great networking tool and give you better insight into what it’s like to actually work for a company, in other words, help solve the asymmetry of information that is inherent in being a job seeker. I learned of this from a really great career counselor in grad school who actually did research on best strategies for job seeking (so he tested these practices out and wrote papers on them). Networking through informational interviews is pretty rad and surprisingly easy, it turns out people really like being asked questions and being an expert! You can either look for people you already know, use your network to introduce you to new people, or even reach out cold. Myself and my fellow grad students all had pretty good experience using these techniques. In my experience, it’s both easier to know about the job through these methods, including the unstated culture/fit aspects, AND it’s a way to help you stand out as a job candidate. If it goes well, you can be a referred candidate, instead of just another resume in a pile. Hope that helps!

  • Anon for this

    Anonymity is definitely a must here. I have a great job doing something I like/sometimes love and feel good about in an area I’m passionate about, I’m paid decently well and have good benefits, I like and respect a good number of my coworkers. I also think every so often about when my life will fit a new job, because y’all, my department head is a PROBLEM. Department head does nothing and doesn’t really know what the day to day work of our department entails, but while the person below them is in charge of making the trains run on time, that person doesn’t have the authority to make real decisions about how things work or to push people to produce more than they feel like doing. Nagging is second-in-command’s only option, and there are a few people who don’t respond to nagging (or have an independent sense of responsibility, it seems), so a couple of us end up picking up the slack, and department head doesn’t seem to notice or think it might be good to step in and shift the burden. In fact, when I’ve tried to raise it, the response is total non-comprehension.

    I get regular raises and tons of praise and appreciation, but it doesn’t feel like it’s for real as long as I’m being pushed to the breaking point while other people sit back and do next to nothing.

    • Also anon

      There are also major leadership problems at the place where I work. Most of the rank-and-file are GREAT, really interesting, intelligent and dedicated people. But the leadership… is just horrible. I’m talking whiny, bossy, disrespectful, disengaged, etc. They are like the “asshole rock stars” mentioned elsewhere in this thread. The company owner hired them bc they are well-known in their field, and they have been here forever.

      I was aware of the leadership problems upon taking this job — had been warned by others who knew them. I decided to take the job anyway as a way to learn about the field and get some experience. And it has been great for that. I just didn’t realize what an affect working for these people would have on me. It’s completely demoralizing. I’ve decided that it’s time to look elsewhere.

  • Anonymous

    I am struggling with my job right now. I enjoy parts of it, but the other bits cause way too much stress to make it worth it. I’m trying to make a career change, but it’s so hard to about face when this is all I’ve ever had experience in. How do you say that in a job interview? I hate what I used to say was my life’s passion? It was too stressful? Very frustrating, but I need to make a change for my own health.

    • Jessica

      I’ve been reading Ask A Manager (askamanager.org) and the woman who runs the blog has a lot of good advice for people wondering the same or similar things. Career changes are totally possible.

      • Lisa

        AAM is amazing! I started following her blog about six months ago after someone mentioned it in another open thread. I refer everyone there when they mention job hunting.

        • Jessica

          I found it on a Happy Hour post!

      • Anonymous

        I’ve been seeing that pop up a lot. Looks like I need to actually look at it tonight! Thanks for the encouragement. There’s a small light at the end of the tunnel.

      • emilyg25

        AAM is amazeballs. Just the best ever. And she answers questions really quickly!

        • Lisa

          She responded to me personally once about a question I sent (it was a very short answer and didn’t end up on the blog), and I felt so special!

          • Lulu

            This just inspired me to ask one! Baby steps toward figuring things out…

      • CP2011

        I started following Get Bullish after reading about it here, and I love her career advice (though that’s not to say I’ve been very successful at implementing it).

    • another lady

      focus on the positive in an interview – skills you have gained, things you enjoyed, but weren’t quite right for you. Then, talk about what you are looking for in a new job that coincides with the job they have!

  • Jessica

    In the fall I listed to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons podcasts. She talks about finding breadcrumbs on the trail of life, breadcrumbs being things that spark joy & wonder for you. She talks about following these without worrying about where they are going to lead you or making a plan. I loved this analogy. At nearly 32, I am in my most favorite job ever. I love it. It is totally different than what I was doing at 22. And I never would have thought that following my “breadcrumbs” – things as varied as food, traveling, wine, spreadsheets, budgets, and organizing things, would have led to a cohesive career. More info on Magic Lessons: http://www.elizabethgilbert.com/magic-lessons/

  • Elizabeth

    Interesting. For me, the industry I work in is very important. I’ve looked at doing other things that may have better (or at least more stable and more room for creativity) work environments and I just come back to middle school me reading a list of college majors and going ‘that’s really a thing you can do, that you can go to school for?’. I’m not always happy, and I don’t know that my work environment is necessarily right long-term for me, but I’m happier when I can see ways to improve myself, when I can gain more technical knowledge. It was a realization for me a year and a half ago that I’m not ambitious in the classical sense of wanting more money or to manage people, but I do have a sort of ambition, I do want to be on bigger and more important projects.

    I have a mentor now who’s encouraging me to go to technical conferences and write papers and I hadn’t realized I was at a point already where I can do that, but I am and that has me excited despite the ‘rules of the game’, the fact that earlier today I got an annual performance review of ‘average’ even though my boss tells me I exceeded expectations and he can’t think of much I should do differently (other than conflict management, which is on my list to work on this year). And it’s hard, because if I try to talk about some of these things with my coworkers they view them as unnecessary work/pointless. But even if writing a technical paper doesn’t get me rated better next year — that’s not why I’m writing it. I’m doing it for me and my technical development and that’s important to me.

    • another lady

      some companies just do that with reviews – everyone is ‘average’ (and gets a minisule to no raise) unless you are the 2% or 0.2% that are super phenomenal and make their life revolve around working 80+ hours a week and doing EVERYTHING! Then, you are ‘above average’ and get a small but slightly bigger than everyone else raise. I found it so de-motivating to have that happen in the corporate world!

      • Lisa

        This was my last job. You could either be average, above average, or below average in all of the 5 categories offered, and everyone was automatically assigned average unless they were working 60+ hours a week and taking work home with them every night. I was barely getting paid $14/hour to do really high level database work (as exempt), and I couldn’t imagine putting in even another ten hours a week to essentially drive my hourly amount down further. Between the pay scale, the way reviews were done, and the awful work environment, I ended up leaving after a year.

      • Caitlin

        Yup, this is how my company works. I even managed to be the 1% above average and get the slightly better raise and yeah, it’s not very big and it’s demotivating, because I’m still underpaid compared to the work I’m doing… Big company with old school values…

      • Elizabeth

        Yeah, I’m aware that it’s just a part of how the company works. Like I said, it’s the rules of the game and it is hard sometimes because I’m doing really well but not, like, super phenomenal and I hate feeling like it’s sort of a competition with my coworkers. (And so much of it is about who else is in the department and how well they did and I’m never one to say ‘I deserve this more than this person’ except that overall company profits are up so from that perspective it should just be able to be about rewarding the work that was done.)

  • Nameless Wonders

    I think a lot of personal job requirements vary on what you actually do or could be doing. In very technical positions, it hardly matters what industry you’re in (it won’t really affect the work you’re doing), but the environment really matters.

    These are helpful things for me to consider in my next career move. How does one find a job that fits their lists without completely changing careers? It’s highly unlikely you could get hired doing something that you don’t have experience in, even if you feel pretty confident that you could do it or be trained easily.

  • Cellistec

    The best career advice I’ve read to date was from personal finance blogger Ramit Sethi, who said that often you don’t enjoy something until you master it. (That was one of the free gems from his largely fee-based work, which I admit I never got into.) At the time I was struggling in a job that had seemed such a prize just a couple years earlier, and I thought, OK, let’s stick this out some more until I get good and see if that changes how I feel about the job. It did, and I stayed: I’m in year 7 now, with no temptation to look elsewhere.

    Of course, it helps that my colleagues are rad.

    • Ashlah

      That completely makes sense to me! The days I most dislike my job are when I am completely baffled by a task and am feeling lost and insecure. That’s when I miss my retail job! On those days, I forget about all the things I hated about retail and just remember having a job that I knew how to do without question.

      • lady brett

        hell yes, sometimes i daydream about my days as a movie store clerk, because i was great at my job (and got to do a lot of reading/making).

    • Elizabeth

      That feels like the opposite of my issue, where I don’t enjoy something unless I’m being challenged!

      • Ah, but there’s a difference between being an expert/master and being challenged. You can have mastery, but still encounter struggles as you attempt to attain new levels of mastery. If you’re in a position where you truly are a novice on all tasks at all times, you’d likely be miserable.

        • Elizabeth

          I mean, when I worked food service I was not a happy person at all, even though I knew what to do. When I worked as an engineer in my last position there were some things to do that required thinking but in general I was miserable a lot of the time because I knew I wasn’t going to be handed anything that I would struggle with. I get deep satisfaction from looking at something, going ‘I have no idea how I’m going to do this’ and then figuring out the steps/knowing the people to talk to to get it done. Obviously it can’t be completely out of my reach, but even if I see a clear path from the start, I don’t enjoy it.

        • Cellistec

          Yes, and mastery gives you the ability to improvise and know you probably won’t ruin everything. So you can certainly be challenged as a master, but you have more tools to approach the challenge and don’t have to just bang your head against the wall.

      • Sara

        Me too. Every job I’ve left is because I was bored. I love a good challenge.

    • Nameless Wonders

      I feel completely unmotivated in my position and have been in it for over a year now. If I made more of an effort to self-educate, things would move faster and I might be able to do more, but it’s hard to care. I can’t tell if the role is just not suited for me or if I’m just stuck. I’ve felt passionate about projects at work before and they were definitely when I felt like I had a clue about what I was doing.

      • CP2011

        Yes yes yes. When I get excited about something, I can get really absorbed and pump out work. But it’s a rare day that I feel that enthusiasm or excitement about anything I do at work. On paper, this job should be a good fit for me, which makes me afraid that I will spend all of my working days depressed.

        • Alex

          ugh, me too, to a T!

    • Danielle

      The importance of awesome colleagues cannot be overstated.

      Did anyone else read this article in the NYT magazine last weekend about building strong teams: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/magazine/what-google-learned-from-its-quest-to-build-the-perfect-team.html?_r=1 Basically the main point is that psychological safety is what makes people feel good about their team/department/group. And developing trusting bonds among coworkers can help create that sense of safety.

      • There’s also: “Don’t work with assholes, says new research from Harvard Business School”
        https://boingboing.net/2015/12/07/harvard-business-school-talen.html
        Original paper: http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Publication%20Files/16-057_d45c0b4f-fa19-49de-8f1b-4b12fe054fea.pdf

        I’m looking at you, Bay Area start-ups.

        But more to the point, all the research is starting to back it up. The best teams have less assholes. So, awesome colleagues, yes.

        • Danielle

          That totally makes sense.

          Actually someone in the comments last Happy Hour mentioned a book called “The No Asshole Rule” and I just ordered it from my library! Excited to check it out :)

      • Jessica

        The President of the Board I work for sent this to her Executive Committee. This is on the heels of an extreme disconnect between the members of the Committee because one person refuses to play nice/has too big of an ego to work with others.

        If you want to read more about Teamwork, I just finished “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” and thought it had a lot of good points, plus the notion that being a team is a lot of hard work and communication, but it is far more effective than not acting as a team.

      • eating words

        I loved that article so hard. It explained exactly why the theater collective that I’m a part of works so well: we have amazing psychological safety in which to try new things, build on ideas, and work hard *together* to create work that we are all proud of. The fulfillment totally explains why all of us volunteer our time.

  • Ashlah

    I’m in this weird position where my job isn’t a great fit for me, but it’s also not bad enough to leave. My co-workers are nice, but really not my kind of people. I can’t fully be my (liberal, feminist) self, but they haven’t said anything bad (…or good) about my faux-hawk-turned-buzzcut (pic to come in Happy Hour!). I have my own office, but the lack of windows and interaction with co-workers gets depressing. The industry is boring as all get out, and there’s no “moving up” that I have any interest in. And yet. I get to leave at 5 PM every day, I am rarely very stressed, and my pay is very generous for the work I do. And so I stay. Another job might make me happier…or it might also be way worse and have worse pay. I’m just not sure where the tipping point is that makes it worth it to look for something new. For me, the risk isn’t worth it right now. I’ve come to a place where I’m mostly at peace here, though I can’t help but daydream from time to time.

    My husband has the opposite problem: Except for one boss, he loves his work environment, but he’s not paid nearly what he deserves. So we both struggle a lot with whether pay or environment is more important, and at which thresholds might that change.

    • Sara

      I have the same issue as you. I’m not really fulfilled, but its enough for now. I’m not someone who shies away from change – in fact, I tend to crave it – but having a steady job that covers all my bills with a boss I like seems like a good spot for now. If I left, I think it’d have to be a really big change – different industry, an upward move or chasing higher pay. Because to leave this for something similar seems unworth the effort of job searching.

      • another lady

        that is a great explanation of how to know when the tipping point happens. when it seams worth it to leave for xyz reasons, then it is time to start looking for something else.

    • Lisa

      This is me right now, too. I left my awful job for a “good enough” job because it was what was available at the time I needed it to be, and it pays decently well for the area. I love that I get to leave work behind at 4:30 and don’t need to think about it anymore. We fully intend to leave Badtown the minute my husband graduates so I know I’ll be leaving this work behind then, but I’m filing all of this information away for when I start job hunting in 12 months.

    • Lizzie

      Same, same, same in an amalgamation of you and your husband – great work environment, very patient bosses, amazing coworkers, I get to leave at 5pm every day. But also: pay is insanely low, lack of windows is a huge mental drain, industry is slowly dying (book publishing! fun times), advancement opportunities are nil. It’s really tough because I feel so comfortable in my day-to-day, but I also know that I have to jump ship in a big way in order to secure a good long-term career future. (Not to mention, figure out what new ship I’m jumping into!)

      Anyway, no real additional thoughts, just saying I hear you and I’m there too!

  • Jessica

    This really resonates with me–and reminds me of the last season of Parks&Rec when April realized she was unfulfilled in her job at the National Parks Service, so she made a list of what she wanted in a job (creativity, one-on-one relationships). I hadn’t really thought of a job in those terms before, and Najva just took it to a more concrete way of looking at work when you don’t know what you want to be.

    I find it kind of difficult to express to my friends why I like my job so much. I get to work in an office by myself, so I don’t have to deal with day-to-day office politics. I have over 50 volunteers who I’m in regular contact with, so I don’t feel lonely. I get to help people solve problems that make our neighborhood better. I feel like I’m a part of a whole, which is motivating to me. But my more interesting stories are the ones where a neighbor is causing drama or there’s a sexist old dude causing trouble.

    • another lady

      that sounds like a pretty good job to me! I also have a pretty good gig going on, although not most people’s dream jobs. good office environment, good co-workers, good leave and benefits policy, occasionally makes me feel like I am doing something important, and I can leave it at the office.

    • Alexandra

      This is just what I was thinking–the episode of Parks and Rec!

  • I feel like being happy in your job is a constant struggle. I feel like I’ve had a rough go of it, but I’m finally starting to figure out what does make me happy. I came out of school already burnt out in the field I had pursued for more than 6 years. I pushed myself to continue down that career path for another 6 years before finally admitting that I was doing something I really didn’t love and I really wasn’t happy doing. I’m in the progress of figuring out what it is that would make me actually happy in a job. I’m also learning that I’m less of a ‘Type A’ person than I previously thought – I think that was just the person I was expected to be… Ahhh growing older and figuring your sh*t out. I’m a work in progress.

  • Sara

    The last time I was looking for a job, I tried to list all the things I knew I was good at and figure out a job that fir those qualifications. It didn’t really work, and I found a job that fits for now (like a sweater that probably won’t fit next season kinda fit). But! It did make me think about what I value as my own strengths, and what those strengths mean for my future. And I know that several things I’m good at burn me out (teaching and event planning come to mind – love them but cause more stress dreams than anything else). I’m trying to iron out my personal stuff before I tackle professional stuff but at least I have a jumping off point next time.

    • another lady

      teaching definitely caused me lots of stress dreams and health issues!

    • Aubry

      I am also good at teaching and event planning (both aspects of my current job) but man so stressful!

  • Aubry

    APW always with the mind reading. I’m at a horrible flux state currently, with me potentially looking for another job/career in the next year or two (or maybe not, but the business is on shaky ground atm). And I feel like my whole life plan has been shaken. And if my biological clock could shut up for a sec I might be able to think rationally about things.

    I have this issue where nothing I like doing or could see myself working at makes any money. So if I procreate, I need a plan. Right now my work is very flexible and could bring my child to work with me a certain amount, so that would make up for the low earnings. But if I get another job that pays the same, I’m in that lovely zone of childcare costing 95% of what I take home. And if I have to go to school for a year or two and rack up loans for that job, then I’m truly screwed.

    I will read this again tonight and have a look at what might work for me. Thanks Najva, and we love having you on the team :)

    • another lady

      your ideal job ‘requirements’ may revolve around work-life balance and benefits (especially if you are in the US). sounds like you need better pay, benefits, child care options, and flexibility if you are planning on starting a family in this situation. sometimes the benefits and work environment are worth more than the actual paycheck.

      • Aubry

        I agree, my lifestyle is probably the most important part of my ideal job requirements. I live in Canada, but unfortunately don’t qualify to collect our maternity leave benefits. Luckily I have medical/dental benefits through my husband, as I have never had my own. Ah, working in the arts ;)

        One of the things I am looking at is getting my early childhood education diploma, and having a potential childcare build into my job. If I don’t need to pay childcare it potentially doubles my “income” by eliminating the cost. But this would require 2 years of schooling. Potentially one year of that could be working at my current job in the evenings/part time, depending on what we decide to do about the company.

        Kinda wishing this got looked at earlier, but don’t we all wish that. I’m almost 29 and we were planning on starting a family in the next 6months – 1 year. I’m ok to push that to 2 years (not really ok but I’ll live) but much longer isn’t sounding good to me. Bah.

  • anon-o-tron

    Anon for this one.

    I don’t know what to do about my work situation at all. I have a stable job at a place with flexibility to work from home, has lots of sick time and vacation time, and pays well for the work that I do. Great!

    My coworkers range from nice with nothing in common to mansplain-y and super grating. The work itself is mostly fine, but ranges from boring when it’s slow to super stressful and irritating when it’s busy.

    I think about finding a new job all the time but I don’t want to lose the flexibility, stability and pay. I’ve stayed so far because I like those aspects and because part of me worries that maybe I just don’t like working and wouldn’t really enjoy any job I would find.

    Meh.

    • CP2011

      I read your comment and actually thought to myself, “wait, did I post on here already??” I am in your exact same position and it sucks. Especially the part about not knowing of anything else that would make you happier. I’ve found myself entertaining thoughts like, if only I’d married rich, I wouldn’t even have to work. Which is definitely not my nature, but you reach that feeling of hopelessness and things go downhill fast. What’s funny is that I’ve been very successful professionally — big raises, awards, “good” jobs, but I spend most of my working hours watching the clock and waiting for the weekend.

      • anon-o-tron

        I tell my partner about that feeling and apparently its commonly associated with burn out. I never thought I worked hard enough for burn out but then I was reading about what actually causes burn out and apparently a huge thing is accountability without authority. Which describes my situation to a tee.

        My job is good on paper and there is opportunity for growth. I’m good at my job and am given opportunities because I work hard and get my job done. I contribute ideas and usually they are good ones. I just… don’t like my job and wish I didn’t have to go to it.

        Hopelessness describes exactly what I feel when I think about work. I totally feel you.

        • CP2011

          We are emotional work twins!! Thank you for describing so eloquently and accurately my exact feelings :)

          • anon-o-tron

            You are super welcome, I am really excited to find someone that feels the same way because I’ve been feeling a bit like a crazy person lately! I’m so lucky to have this job, why can’t I like it!! lol

        • eating words

          “Accountability without authority” sounds pretty much like hell to me. That phrase nails it.

        • CMT

          Do you remember what/where you were reading about burn out? It sounds like something I need to check out!

          • anon-o-tron

            I do not. I was googling burnout and I think also how to effectively manage employees that you don’t have any authority over (pretty weird situation for me at work right now obviously lol). I wish I could remember the couple of good ones I read… :/

          • Amanda

            This is definitely also my situation too!! Some days I’m like, maybe being a stay at home mom isn’t so bad? Even though, deep down I know that’s not really something I would ever think. But maybe that’s what my perfect position is and I just never knew. My boss is mansplain-y douche and every day I leave feeling worthless and hopeless.

        • Mary Jo TC

          Would you mind sharing the link where you read about the connection between burnout and ‘accountability without authority’? I’m a teacher and that phrase really resonated with me. Our district is having focus groups about teacher retention, and ‘accountability’ is a huge watchword in education right now–that article sounds super relevant!

    • Jessica

      I wonder if this exercise will help you. It made me feel silly at first, but it helped me realize what I didn’t want to do, even though I thought I did. I first saw it when I bought a PassionPlanner, and it’s one of those “just turn your brain off and write” things. You take two minutes (set a timer) and just write down all of the goals you want to accomplish. Big or little. Then you go through and evaluate if you actually want to do those things (I had “learn to code” on my list. I don’t want to learn to code, I want the knowledge of coding to be magically transferred to me without any work whatsoever so I can say I know how to code). Then you take the things you actually want to do, pick 1 or 2, and make a plan to get them done.

      These things do not have to be super big. It could be learning to do something, joining a thing, starting a thing or whatever so that you spend at least some of your time doing something you enjoy. And when you’re in a rut at work but don’t feel motivated enough to leave, something needs to happen.

      You can download the real instructions for the exercise here: http://www.passionplanner.com/get-2016-pdf-a4. You technically need to share it on social media of some sort to get access.

      • anon-o-tron

        “I don’t want to learn to code, I want the knowledge of coding to be magically transferred to me without any work whatsoever so I can say I know how to code” ha! I’ve been dabbling with working on learning to code for a while and this describes me perfectly. When I was in high school I really wanted to learn to play guitar but I hated practicing and one day I stopped saying I wanted to learn to play because I realized that playing guitar was basically the same as practicing guitar and I obviously didn’t enjoy it. lol

        This might help however I don’t really have a lack of hobbies that I enjoy. If anything, I don’t have the time or energy for all the things I want to do outside of work. I could probably use some help narrowing it down. I’ll definitely take a look! Thanks :)

        • Jessica

          I did the same thing with guitar in high school!

          And I use my passion planner for work. It’s gotten me to go to conferences, take on new projects and go to networking events on my own. Since I’m the only employee at my org, I need something to help direct me.

  • Semi-anon for this…

    I don’t need to be fully Anon, but I don’t want to be searchable.

    I’ve been casually checking the internal job postings for Big University. Not so much to get a new position, but to look at the qualifications and requirements for positions the next pay grade up. I’ll be here two years in September, so I didn’t think I’d want to look for real before that.

    Only…I just now looked (prompted by this post) and saw a new opening in another academic dept. that I kind of actually want for real. For now I’ve just bookmarked it, but I’m also seeing if the person who does this job in my academic dept would be up for meeting with me sometime in the next week to talk about what she does.

    • KM

      Apply! You can ask for discretion and let them know your current employer is not aware that you’re looking. And interviewing is the best way to find out more about the gig; you don’t have to accept a job if its offered, but you certainly won’t get a job offer if you don’t apply.

      • Semi-anon for this…

        Well, they *are* my current employers. This is a really, really big institution. I mostly was planning on waiting until two years so that I wouldn’t be a job hopper. I do think I’m going to apply. But I’m also definitely looking forward to having a conversation with person-who-does-that-job-but-in-my-current-department. I’d like to know more about what she does, how it works, what are the busy/slow times of year, etc.

        The person who signs my paychecks (not the person who gives me work, because yay for academia) knows that my plan is to move on at some point, and encourages me on this. She knows the dept heads are difficult to deal with and micromanaging. She’s open about the idea that I will move to another position at some point. Which is cool.

      • Semi-anon for this…

        I also almost replied as my regular log-in. Woops! :)

  • emilyg25

    I feel very fortunate, because my career is perfect for me and I fell into it completely by accident. I’m a communications manager in higher ed. I started in this field because I was going to grad school and my mom sent me a posting for an administrative assistant at the college, in the communications office. I just applied so I could go to school for free. I had no idea this field even existed, but I get to do so many of things I love, with amazingly cool people, in a generally nice environment. Universities have their own weirdness, but it suits me much better than the corporate world.

    • Kayjayoh

      I love working in higher ed. I always wanted to be an academic. Now that I am here, I am so glad I am *not* but still delighted to be in this environment. The nice things about working for a college, without all the strum und drang of actual academia.

      • Ashlah

        I’ve always thought our local university would be a fantastic workplace. I look at the job listings once in a while and dream… Nothing that fits the bill yet.

        • Kayjayoh

          I work as an administrative assistant. The work is boring, but abundant. I’m definitely not following *any* sort of passion in terms of my day-to-day, but it lets me do other things that I like.

          • Lisa

            This is what I’m doing right now, too, and I agree. The university pays better than most of the other companies in the area, and I get to leave my work at the office and enjoy my free time. Plus, there are other perks like being able to take classes on topics that interest me for free!

          • Amanda

            I work in higher ed too, but maybe it’s just the university that I’m at that is draining. I LOVED it when I first started here four and a half years ago, but now I’m mentally drained and burnt out.

          • Alex

            How do I break into this bubble? I got my PhD and really like the academic environment and I think I’d really like working as a program coordinator (e.g. rounding up all the troops for large $M grant projects), but haven’t been able to discover much info about breaking into that world. …then there’s the whole “but you have a PhD, you have no experience” thing

          • Lisa

            My director at the first university where I worked was getting her EdD when I worked with her so I know those can go hand in hand! I would look at university postings (hopefully in something related to your PhD) for program coordinator/manager/director positions and find some transferable skills that you can discuss in your cover letter. (For my initial one, I wrote a lot about how my experience as a student of higher ed while getting my master’s would allow me to navigate the university system well as an administrator and to relate more closely to the students’ issues.) You could also apply to lower level administrator positions and explain in the cover letter that you want to gain experience on the other side of academia so you can eventually grow into a leadership role.

            Conversely, you could try going at it as an academic and work your way more towards the administrative side as a program sponsor or advisor, which could then lead to a more program-oriented position.

            That’s all I can really help with using my limited experience. Best of luck to you!

    • eating words

      I’ve been doing this for a while, and while I used to love it, it’s gone sour. I’m friends with a lot of communications colleagues in different parts of my university, and they all agree that it’s going downhill. Leadership demonstrates a lack of understanding of what communications is, shows little respect for our contributions, and makes questionable hires that undermine the work we’re trying to do. I’m glad to hear it’s still a good job elsewhere, though.

  • Alexandra

    I worked so many jobs growing up…wrote for my local newspaper in high school, and discovered that though I’m good at writing and enjoy it, I hate deadlines. Worked retail: horribly boring. Worked food service: LOVED it–never boring! Running around at breakneck speeds, feeling in the trenches all the time–fun! Interned at a publishing house: horrible. Tedious, horrible competition with scary people, having to project an image–not my thing.

    And then I student taught and it was the best thing ever. All the fun of food service: trenches! Breakneck! A thousand decisions! Never boring! Serving people! With the added component of the intellectual challenge of getting kids to learn stuff.

    Fourteen years later and I still love teaching high school with all my heart. AND at this point I have it so dialed in I don’t take any work home at all and get lots and lots of time with my 1.5-year-old son.

    Ironic part? In high school and college I vowed never, ever to become a teacher because it seemed like a career for dumb people.

    I LOVE this advice about looking for work that appeals to what you actually want out of life and what appeals to your personality and needs.

    • Kayjayoh

      I loved working as a substitute teacher. When I first started working in academia, the college I worked at gave free tuition and had a post-pacc teacher certification program. Then I realized that I would be moving to a different state with entirely different requirements before finishing it. I’d have to start mostly from scratch. (I looked into it at the time.)

      I’d still make a great teacher, I’m just not up for the necessary hoop jumping I’d need to do to teach in a reputable school. (A school that just wants a warm body and doesn’t care that I am technically unqualified is not a place I want to be.)

      • Amy March

        All kinds of reputable private schools don’t require certification. I don’t think you need to write off all of them because a club that would have me as a member isn’t one I would want to join!

        • EF

          yeah, seconding this. eastern massachusetts is chock-full of private schools that don’t care about certification. check them out!

      • Alexandra

        Huh. Strange…I got certified and licensed to teach in New York State in college, and then moved to Hawaii, which hired me conditionally–I had to get recertified in Hawaii, but I could work while I did it as long as I provided documentation that I was getting recertified. It wasn’t that big an issue, albeit something of an expense and a hassle. Different states have different requirements, but most of the time it’s a matter of taking whatever exams they require for licensure. A lot of states will hire you if you have a SATEP (state approved teacher education program) degree and then let you take the exams.

        That being said–teaching is awesome but very stressful for the first few years, and it doesn’t pay that well, so if there really are major hoops, the ROI might not be worth it.

        • Kayjayoh

          The difference being that you were certified and licensed, whereas I had taken a handful of credits towards eventually getting a certification. (It was a two year program if I went full time, and I was taking one class per semester.)

          If I weren’t working for large, world-renowned research institution with really good job security and benefits, I’d consider it. As it is, probably going to wait for retirement. Maybe a second career.

          I did have a good run of 5 years substitute teaching.

    • MC

      My husband is in his first year teaching high school and he loves it for all the same reasons. He hated how bored he was at all his other jobs in the past, and feels very motivated because he’s working with (young, impressionable) people instead of with computers or bored customers. It’s great and also funny because it’s the exact opposite of what my introverted, detail-oriented self needs in a job so it kind of boggles my mind that he is not a giant stress ball every day haha.

    • I wasn’t going to be a teacher either by the time I graduated high school, despite having wanted to be a teacher for the entirety of my childhood. A few years of jobs I hated working in offices later, I finally got my certification and I love it too. Creativity, personal connections, feeling like I am making a positive impact on the world, and time off to travel are all very high on my list (along with dressing on the casual end of business casual) and I get them all, plus a lot of funny stories from middle school special ed.

  • Alex

    Ahhh this is so perfectly timed! I finished my engineering PhD and finally entered the “real world” and oh gosh do I need a new job already. Even though I’m doing what some might consider “exciting” things, I’m stuck in this horrendous good-old-boys club with no women anywhere near upper management with a set of VPs whose core values are so wildly out of line with mine. But I get paid quite well, no one wants to hire PhDs (or really understands what they do), and I have awesome co-workers (all the afore mentioned awful folk are in company headquarters, across the country, fewf). I’ve been applying like mad the last few weeks and have an onsite interview with a company that has reallllly good retention and spends almost no time recruiting because they prefer to grow from internal referrals and a small set of headhunters. So it sounds really refreshing and I’m keeping my fingers crossed :) I’ve been trying to find my “Why” and this piece really helped put some oomph into my thinking :)

  • CP2011

    This is so timely for me. I’m in a major job rut — feeling unhappy, anxious, unfulfilled yet unenthusiastic about starting over in a new role. I am pretty much wallowing in my own misery. Needless to say, I have little to offer in the way of advice but I am so eager to read what others share.

    • J

      Are you gonna make the list, as Najva recommends???

      • CP2011

        I actually already did, this weekend! I wrote down what I like about my job, what I dislike, what could make it better and what my goals are.

  • This post is so timely. I’ve been struggling with my career for the past couple of years – first trying to figure out if my career change was the right move, then trying to figure out if my company was right. This morning as I was driving to a meeting, I finally admitted to myself that I miss working in the lab. I’ve been out 3 years and I may not be able to get back in. At the same time, I’m still feeling like any corporate job (lab or not) is “wasting” my best years and that I should just do my own thing. Basically, I’m lost and looking for some direction and I wish something would give me some clarity and a clear direction.

    • Kayjayoh

      “I’ve been out 3 years and I may not be able to get back in.”

      Would it be a skills gap issue? Rusty skills + not knowing the recent techniques?

      • My fear is that labs would think I’m rusty, since I’ve been out for 3+ years. I also have a suspicion that recruiters are skipping my resume because my most recent work experience isn’t in the lab.

        • Kayjayoh

          That’s what I figured. I suppose chem lab work isn’t really just something you can pick up on the side to get back into it.

          • Yeah, which kinda sucks. The crazy thing is I couldn’t wait to get out when I was in it…so I’m wondering if I truly miss the work, or I’m just craving something familiar and steady. Jury is out on that so far.

  • Anon Today

    Oh man. So I’m lucky enough to have fallen into a career path that’s perfect for me, am working on my master’s while I have a full time job in my field that I love and will be totally set in about 4 years. But my husband has literally no idea what he wants to do and I have no idea how to help him. He finished college, but with a liberal arts major he has no long-term interest in. He has a part-time job that allows us to pay our bills, gives him a very flexible schedule to do the things he actually enjoys, it’s union so we have GREAT health benefits, and there’s room to move up, even though it would take a long time. Caveat? He hates it. Or, more specifically, hates feeling like “this is the best his life will be.” Which sounds like bullshit, but as I’m trying to be the supportive one, I try to keep my mouth shut. But we sit down to look at jobs and out of 20 pages of listings he’ll think one “maybe sounds okay.” He’ll hear of an opportunity and say “I really should look into that” and then…won’t. And as someone who believes that things aren’t going to change unless you make them, I’m having a very hard time not yelling at him to please for the love of god go talk to someone else about this because I can’t have the same useless conversation again. Has anyone else dealt with this? I really don’t know what to do with what feels to me like a never ending pity party of not wanting things to actually change, just to be able to continually bitch about things not changing.

    • Cellistec

      Maybe this is one of those “work to live” rather than “live to work” situations. I think it’s fine not to love your job as long as it accomplishes what it’s traditionally supposed to: keeping the bills paid and food in the fridge. Since your husband’s job is only part-time and he has time to do things he enjoys, can that be enough?

      • Anon Today

        I’m bringing another level of guilt to the table based on the fact that I have a plan, a dream job, etc. and I don’t want to rub it in but I also got lucky/worked hard and played by the rules/it still took 3+ years for this to be a possibility for me. I’m not sure if he’s basing these feelings based on the fact that “he’s a man” and should “provide” (I make more money than he does, but I also work twice as much at a lower hourly rate, for what that’s worth) and he says that’s not the case but I’m not sure I buy it. Every time I say “a job can just be a job and it’s fine” he gives me sad eyes and says he wants better…but has no idea what that looks like. Convenient.

        • Cellistec

          Yeah, that’s hard. Someone once told me that if you don’t know what you want to do, just start trying things until something clicks…maybe he can test out other career paths in his free time by volunteering or interning? Though granted, that would require more than a passing “I gotta look into that.” :/

    • Nameless Wonders

      Could be low level depression. Or something to talk to a counselor about.

      • Anon Today

        I think you may be on to something, especially in light of some other things going on. I’ve been trying to get him to go talk to someone who isn’t me about those other things, and he’s willing, but of course I have to be the one to set it up and I haven’t done it yet.

    • Ashlah

      Yes, I have this conversation with my husband quite often. It can definitely be draining, and I don’t think you’d be wrong to offer a little tough love. It’s not quite as bad for me because my husband is more ambivalent about his job than it sounds like yours is. I agree with Cellistec–have a conversation with your husband about what it is he wants from a job in general, as opposed to what specific jobs he would like to do (because he likely doesn’t have an answer for that). Does he want a full-time, high-responsibility job that might offer more fulfillment and more pay while being more stressfull and time-consuming? Or is a means-to-an-end job (like he has now) something in which he can eventually find contentment? Can he volunteer or spend time on a hobby that will make his current job more bearable? A part-time, flexible, great benefits job that allows me to pay the bills sounds pretty great from my perspective, but I know it’s not always as simple as that.

      I also agree with Nameless Wonders that depression might be worth considering. When my husband is in a depressive state, he hates every aspect of his job.

      • Anon Today

        He says his job “isn’t that bad” but he also feels like it’s “not good enough.” But when I mention that if he wants to work twice as much for a lower overall hourly wage he totally can do that, that option all of a sudden doesn’t sound great either. Maybe he needs a life coach, that isn’t me, because I’m getting worn down. And how seriously can he take my advice anyway, when I’m over here lucky enough to enjoy what I do (despite having jobs in the past I’ve hated so much that getting out of bed felt impossible most days).

        • Amy March

          I just want to hit pause on one thing here- your advice isn’t less valid because you have made your life work for you, your opinion in the partnership doesn’t need to be tempered because you don’t want to make him feel bad. Do not fall into the trap of making yourself less to make him feel more.

          You aren’t getting worn down, he is wearing you down with constant negativity. It’s okay to say that you aren’t okay with it. It’s okay to tell him that it is hurting your marriage.

          • Anon Today

            Oh, I more meant that as a “why I think he gives the side eye to what I say” vs. actually cutting myself down. He is nothing but supportive in my work and career goals and I’m very appreciative of that, but I also don’t want to rub it in unnecessarily. That’s where the line-walking comes in, but I don’t feel lessened by the fact that he’s unsure. If anything it gives me more motivation to keep kicking ass. I always feel important when I get Amy March advice!

    • MC

      Ugh, I can sympathize – my husband is on job #5 over the last 3 years, and this is the first one where he doesn’t regularly complain/daydream about his next job. His last one was so bad that it really motivated him to pursue something he’d been interested in for a long time but was nervous about (teaching), but for awhile we were trying to plan for what would happen if he quit without another job lined up because it wasn’t worth being miserable. I agree with others that it’s worth talking to him about if he can find something to do with the rest of his time that will make him feel more fulfilled overall, or if he’s internalized societal messages about needing to have a fulfilling job, or needing to be the breadwinner and work more hours, etc. Maybe make a list together like Najva did about what he loves about his job vs. what he feels like is missing… might be revealing.

    • emilyg25

      My husband’s situation is a little different, but I’ve realized I need to back out of his business. His work doesn’t affect our family situation, so I try to let him make his own choices. Of course, he doesn’t complain about it much. If he did, I’d tell him to change the situation, shut up, or get whatever help he needs to feel more in control.

      • anon-o-tron

        My partner does this to me and basically I’ve just stopped complaining about my job to him so much. It’s not good for our relationship and I can’t really do anything else right now (too much other life stuff going on to throw another change into the mix).

        Asking someone to stop complaining to you so much if they aren’t going to change things is totally valid.

    • ElsaB

      I second the tough love comments. I was this person – the one complaining about my job, but not doing anything about it – a few years ago. My roommate at the time was my sounding board and best friend, and finally she got fed up – she told me I could either take steps to change my life or stop complaining that it was staying the same. It was a hard conversation to have, but it worked. I still felt supported, but it made me more aware of the impact my attitude had on others.
      Since I wasn’t willing to give up complaining, I went back to school at night, and got my masters certificate. I am now in a job I absolutely adore, with two smart, female bosses who are just as interested in my personal development as they are in developing our small company’s bottom line!

    • BSM

      I kind of think you need to cut your husband some slack. Sometimes you *really don’t know* exactly what’s so bad about your job, but it is incredibly demoralizing to not enjoy it and yet be tied to it for a significant portion of your time. He probably feels like shit and needs a little wallowing time before he can get into making things happen. If it would help you, you could try to time box this period of time with him. You could tell him, “OK, let’s just try and get through the next two months at your current job, and, if you still hate it, we’ll come up with a plan.”

      Also, sometimes it is hard for dudes to grapple with the societal expectations to be the breadwinner/bring home the bacon/etc. (just like it’s hard for me to shrug off the same ones that make me think I’m a terrible wife for not keeping a clean house and remembering everyone’s birthdays), so I would try to be sensitive to your husband if he’s working through those feelings.

      • Anon Today

        I was this person in the beginning. We’re now going on two years of this with absolutely no steps being taken to change the situation. Yes, I would really like for him to stay while I finish school so there is one person to make sure our house doesn’t totally fall apart and we occasionally get fed and someone buys cat food. We agreed to this. But I did not agree to two years of endless complaining with no action. I know I sound like the worst person, but my soul is tired. He finished college, expected sunshine and rainbows, got real life instead, and hasn’t gotten over it. I finished college a year ahead of him, and had the same thing happen to me. I worked in a soul-sucking full time job that made getting out of bed sometimes the hardest thing in the world for 5 months before I found something better.

        • BSM

          Given those details, I’d say counseling sounds like a good next step. Best of luck!

  • Anonymous for today

    How timely! I’m home sick from work today with a weird half-cold, and enjoying it SO much (well besides the coughing and sore throat and sinus headache). Seriously, the other week I left at lunch to go to a doctor’s appointment and was looking forward to it all weekend because it meant I wouldn’t have to be in my workplace during a weekday afternoon. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this lately…I love doing my own creative work but hate the typical office-y bureaucracy, top-down management, and politics that make working an extra half-hour of unapproved overtime in order to prep stuff for my team into a gigantic fight that I can’t win. Something where I can set my own hours, do my own projects, not be responsible for other people’s mistakes or carelessness, and earn more money (or at least sick days, for heaven’s sakes)…that would be great! I just have to figure out what that is and formulate my 12-month escape plan.

    • Anonymous for today

      ETA: I have this dream of building a company that marries OkCupid or eHarmony with Monster.com – an online matchmaking service for employers and employees. This thread alone shows there are soooo many people dissatisfied with their jobs, and if there was a way to search through available positions based on the “personality” (if that makes sense) of the company rather than just keywords like “non-profit” or job titles, maybe people could find workplaces that are better matched to their goals/working style. Except that I have *zero* tech skills or business experience! So for now it’s just a dream on the to do list until I can figure out how to make it actually happen.

      • Danielle

        That’s a great idea. Looking for the right job and looking for the right partner are SOOOOO similar.

        Maybe talk to people you know and trust who are knowledgeable about tech and/or business to get their feedback.

  • Jo

    Yay, Najva! Happy for you, and happy we get to read the amazing results of you being happy (ie. this post). Wowza, what a kick-ass piece full of critical, life-changing insights!!!

    “I needed more of whatever it was that made me stoked. Which, for the record, was spreading compassion and uplifting folks. Be it serving them a delicious meal, reading a moving poem, writing a relatable story, or designing a stunning outfit, that personal connection is my why. And it turns out I don’t have to be a fashion designer to do that.”

    This section gave/gives me chills. Yes, this is why, despite being at my “dream job” in many ways, I continue to be searching, searching, forever searching inside myself for what work it is that would be more ME and a better fit, and all that. The moments when I am doing the things that make me stoked are why I love my job. The moments at work when my soul is dying lead me to have secret internal brainstorming sessions, which thus far lacked the kind of clarity of purpose that your piece offers – what makes me stoked?? How can I do it in a place that works for me?? What are those needs?

    What a concept – what works for me, instead of where I work? :) I have some homework to do.

    Anyway, thanks again to you and to APW as always for providing insane life hacks, for lack of a better phrase.

    ps. I did What Color is Your Parachute a few years back (and found it uber helpful), which kind of leans in the direction of figuring out what skills you really like using, but doesn’t go far enough towards identifying what additional needs you have from your job/workplace.

    pps. I will say, liking your boss is more than half the basis of job satisfaction, in my experience.

    • YES to liking your boss. If I don’t like my boss I’m always like “why would I want to make you more money”

  • Emma

    +1 on the timeliness of this post! I finished grad school in May and after a summer of no job offers (or anything close) was in the middle of two 2nd round interviews at the end of August. I got offered the one I liked the least (of course) and the other position told me that they still needed to interview more 2nd round candidates then have the final candidate meet with a VP before hiring, plus people were going on vacation, etc. so it was going to be 3-4 weeks before they could make a decision. I was not in a position to wait (plus what if I didn’t get it?) and took this job, but am pretty unhappy. I love my coworkers and the work that the organization does, but it’s not my field of interest and my specific job is oftentimes very separate from my coworkers.

    I’m trying to figure out how to transition back into more of my field of interest, but worried that it will be hard having worked in a different programmatic realm for a year.

  • AnonK

    I went through a similar process last year, when I quit my PhD program after several years of just dragging my feet and being depressed. I finally realized that I was sacrificing all the things I actually wanted to pursue my “passion.”

    I think part of the problem is that from a young age we’re told to think of a career as a topic or title rather than an everyday practice–as if studying something like media or environmental science is the same as being a production assistant or wildlife biologist. There’s so often this disconnect between the abstract and the day-to-day. It can be disillusioning, but it can also be freeing, I think, to realize that you can do work that you really enjoy in a field that you never would have been curious about or interested in.

    • Sarah E

      Really agree on this. I remember wondering when I was a kid what various folks DID all day. Threw me for a huge loop in my own job/career search, not to mention just learning how to direct my day without external structure.

      • Melissahhaire4


        “my .friend’s mate Is getting 98$. HOURLY. on the internet.”….


        two days ago new Mc.Laren. F1 bought after earning 18,512$,,,this was my previous month’s paycheck ,and-a little over, 17k$ Last month ..3-5 h/r of work a days ..with extra open doors & weekly. paychecks.. it’s realy the easiest work I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months ago and now making over 87$, p/h.Learn. More right Hereoo!991➤➤➤➤➤ http://GlobalSuperEmploymentVacanciesReportsPay/GetPaid/98$hourly…. .❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:::::oo!991….

    • Greta

      Yes to this! I remember a huge moment I had in college when I realized that despite the fact that I loved to learn about a subject didn’t mean I wanted to actually do that subject. Learning about archaeology and the fascinating finds and discovery that have been over time? Awesome and fascinating. The actual work of being an archaeologist? Not so much for me.

    • M

      Yes! I was still raised to think of a career as an identity, rather than as typical daily tasks. I think that may change in the future as more people move between employers and industries more often over the course of their lives.

    • albertiraross

      Absolutely! I wandered from job to job for years after graduating, never really knowing what I wanted to do, who I wanted to be (if I was defining myself by my job/career), or whether I wanted to pursue anything new. I let all of those open questions fuel me by getting my masters degree, living overseas, taking on a few dream jobs, a few jobs I liked, and even more that I hated. In the end I ended up basically doing precisely what Navja suggests and found my current almost-dream job. Turns out? I spend every day working with numbers and am *really good* at what I do, which I never would have dreamed as the airy-fairy kid who nearly failed all of her math classes.

  • eating words

    Najva, this is awesome. I love the idea of looking at the data and finding the common threads that make jobs awesome. I have many similar needs: I want to be valued, to constantly learn, to respect my boss, to feel trusted, the ability to be myself and to be creative, and to feel like my presence makes a difference. The past couple of years I was starting to feel less and less understood, and therefore less valued, and it was eating away at me. Then my employer restructured and made an inexperienced, much-younger person into my boss — and I was done. My boss doesn’t have the knowledge or even the type of intellect that their job needs, and my job became insufferable. I was on a Skype job interview four days after the announcement, and on other interviews in the weeks following. Everywhere else I looked, people valued me and wanted to talk about how I could contribute to their organizations. It felt amazing — but I also realized how sad it is when feeling valued is such a surprise.

    I start a new job on Monday, and I am so excited. I get to work from home, collaborating with people I like and respect, in a great overlap of the arts and technology. Web content ftw!

    • CMT

      You just described my wish list to a T. And most of those things are lacking at my current job. I’ve been feeling really stuck lately, which has led to me applying to anything and everything under the sun. I think I need to pull back, do some thinking and planning, and then put a lot more focus into my job search.

      • eating words

        Applying to everything is what I was doing for a while. It taught me a LOT about what I wanted and didn’t want, because every interview gave me data. One bad interview was really useful in ruling out an organization that didn’t seem to be growing.

        Also, talk to people. I’m on the introverted side, but I reached out to people (both colleagues and strangers) and requested informational interviews. No one said no. In the end, an offhand comment to an acquaintance about my search led to her mentioning a job her company was creating, and I could tell immediately that it would be a good fit for me. But definitely put yourself out there, even if it’s scary.

        And good luck!

    • anon-o-tron

      “I get to work from home, collaborating with people I like and respect, in a great overlap of the arts and technology”

      This is what I want. Where can I get it? lol

      • Edith Betancourt


        “my .friend’s mate Is getting 98$. HOURLY. on the internet.”….


        two days ago new McLaren. F1 bought after earning 18,512$,,,this was my previous month’s paycheck ,and-a little over, 17k$ Last month ..3-5 h/r of work a days ..with extra open doors & weekly. paychecks.. it’s realy the easiest work I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months ago and now making over 87$, p/h.Learn. More right Hereoo!224➤➤➤➤➤ http://GlobalSuperEmploymentVacanciesReportsPort/GetPaid/98$hourly…. .❦A1:❦A1:❦A1:❦A1:❦A1:❦A1:❦A1:❦A1:❦A1:❦A1:❦A1:❦A1:❦A1:❦A1:❦A1:❦A1:❦A1:❦A1:❦A1:❦A1:❦A1:::::oo!224…….

  • Sarah E

    I can definitely relate to this. After being stellar in high school academics and tanking (at least, in relation to previous grades) in college, I was really lost when I finally finished school. I was very interested in the field I studied, but I couldn’t imagine doing a job in that field that would actually suit me day-to-day. As I worked my way through a bunch of part-time jobs, I had to get over this idea that just because I scored well on some tests meant I should be a certain kind of professional. I don’t like working in offices, especially not formal ones. I mean, who doesn’t look great in a power suit, but I can’t think of a less comfortable outfit to sit in all day.

    Recently, I’ve blossomed– if you’ll allow the saccharine language– working at a local brewery. I love bartending there, which fulfills most of my workplace needs: high pace, memorizing names/orders, great coworkers I can joke with, casual attire, physical movement, being “in the know” about a cool thing everyone likes. When I hit a year of employment, I was offered more responsibility and became essentially content manager for their website, writing weekly blogposts and copywriting as needed, bringing another one of my strengths to the company. I get to hang in the office a little without needed to stay and stare at a screen all day, and I get to monologue about beer.

    It really hit me over the head one day when I realized that most of the items on my “workplace needs” list were fulfilled by the best learning experience I had in college- my part time job at the on-campus creamery. I loved that job and felt so competent and empowered there, which was nearly opposite to my academic experience. Everything clicked into place when I thought about it that way. Now, I have the opportunity to study for a higher certification in my industry, and even though it’ll be hard, I’m stoked to have a way to get/stay smart, achieve another level of external validation, and still be hanging with my friends through a study group and beer tasting.

    To end this novel, I certainly agree with Navja that it’s more important to find a lifestyle/workstyle that’s right than a particular field or title. I will say that prioritizing that led to quite a bit of job jumping until I found the best thing, but a year-plus into it, it was worth it.

  • Bsquillo

    Love this, Najva- I’ve been thinking along these exact same lines as well recently. I happened to fall into my most recent job doing something I didn’t go to school for and never would have expected to enjoy, but I love it. And I think most of it has to do with the environment and the life it allows me to build: chances to constantly learn, a large team of co-workers, trust and autonomy from my boss, stability, great benefits, and respect for my artistic pursuits on the side.

    I’ve recently come to terms with the fact that despite my musical training, maybe I’m not cut out for the wild-and-crazy free-spirited artist thing. (To be fair, I know plenty of artists who do NOT operate this way, but that’s what the common narrative tells us.) I like having a physical office, and somewhat of a routine, and having a predictable paycheck that hits every month. I also like non-repetitive tasks and devouring new information, and leading creative projects. What I’ve found I really desire in the workplace more than anything is balance on all fronts. Perhaps that’s not super exciting, but it’s what works for me, and I’ll own it.

  • Anya

    I took a class at my Graduate school that talked about workview and worldview. Workview was “what do you want out of your job?” You were supposed to write about how you view work in 150 words or fewer. Worldview was a more holistic view: family, location, why do you think humans exist? You were not allowed to use any “profession” names, and you had to write in complete sentences (so no bullet points.) Both of these exercises made me realize that I didn’t like academic research because it didn’t have what I needed to thrive. Neither did my first job: it had the mental fun but not the atmosphere. It gets old being “here’s the nerd; haha, she’s like the one from Big Bang Theory”. I found my place. It took some trying, but I’m here and I’m happy. I did have to throw out the societal idea that titles mean things: after all, who cares if it says associate or sr manager next to my name if I’m unhappy? No one.

    • Omg that class should be required for everyone.

  • M

    I am definitely still figuring it out. I recently declined an offer from my long-time ‘dream career’ and in that process redefined what I want in a job. Najva, I think this is the best advice: “I figured out that biggest mistake I’d been making was asking “What job would I want?” instead of “What do I want out of my job?”” The secret to being happy with your job is … knowing what makes you happy! Keeping that answer up to date is as important as figuring it out in the first place. My answer – my list of core values which I need a job to meet – changed dramatically when I fell in love and got engaged. My former dream job was a perfect match for my previous list of needs, written as a single lady. Turns out “work schedule that permits me to spend a lot of quality time with the love of my life” wasn’t anywhere on the old list, and is right at the top of my updated list (a work in progress).

    Good luck to everyone else who is figuring it out, and congrats to all who are happy where they are!

  • Samie

    This was exactly what I needed to read today. I’ve been floating around, trying to figure out what would make a job worth leaving my current job for and this helped. This helped so much.

  • I’m 27 and I still haven’t decided what I want to be when I grow up yet. For me, the key is to surround myself with people who are truly supportive with my decisions, even if they’re lovingly telling me that they don’t think my current idea is a good fit (key word there: lovingly). Right now I’m leaning towards some kind of certification that would allow me to work in wellness programs run with the mental health recovery movement model. Before that I was seriously considering doing some kind of ministry work, like a chaplain or pastoral counselor, but as a gay woman my options are limited and it’s one of those careers where it’s going to be difficult to pay back the student loans, which… is becoming less and less of an option nowadays. I really like that, as much as I hate today’s economy, it’s made people realize that, no, you do not need a college degree to be successful. Sometimes you’re just spending a lot of money to work in a field where you didn’t need the degree anyway (how many people with degrees did I meet when I worked in retail?). So choose your battles wisely.

  • SH

    I’ve spent ten years with the same under-funded, poorly led, dysfunctional arts non-profit and I am completely burned out. I use to love my job and it was a dream job, despite the constant chaos and general worry that sponsors would not be there. I have finally given up on the hope of change/support from leadership or personal growth (I even forced that by making my position remote and freelance four years ago by moving cross-country, thinking it would help). I mourned for my job and the decision to leave it…but I have to survive three more months and get through our annual big two-week event. Then it’s putting in my notice. I’m totally scared to abandon the one job I’ve had since college, but it will work out. Because it somehow has this far. (It will work out, right?) So. many. feelings.

    • Lisa

      Three months in the scheme of things is not too much! It will definitely work out. :)

      This is what was happening at the non-profit I worked at, too. There were a lot of young women who loved the organization’s mission who took jobs right out of college during the recession, and the organization exploits them by paying them way below market rate and insisting that, since they’re exempt, they need to work more than 40 hours a week to get anything above an “average” on performance reviews. People were so stressed and burnt out, and it showed in daily interactions.

      It sounds like it’s time for you to protect yourself and find something that will value you more and be better for you in the long run. You’ve got great experience under your belt and should hopefully be able to find a new opportunity quickly!

      • SH

        Thanks for the encouragement!

  • Soi Bee

    OMG Najva, Are you really coming to South Korea?!
    Here’s warm welcoming from S.Korea with many kisses and hugs. I hope you like it here.

    Well, I’m pretty surprized! (with so many reasons though) cuz… Firstly, I’m a South Korean girl who is seriously lost with the current job ‘especially’ in THIS month at the moment. Secondly, This is my first time visiting apr site. I was looking for some flower arrangement DIY ideas which is NOT my common interest at all. (just bought some beautiful fake ones yesterday trying to refesh my feelings.. about my job & my future.) and then your article’s title totally cought my eyes.
    Lastly, Your LIST matches mine about 90% (though you wrote ‘For other people, this list could look SO DIFFERENT.’ nope not that much, girl.)

    So, this article made my day(reads: Thank you!). I really appreciate your sharing/inspiring and happy for your current status satisfaction.
    If you need/want any ‘local’ information for your upcoming travle to S.Korea, Just let me know! I’ll be more than happy to support/help you!

    ~ green hair girl from S.Korea

    • AH! That’s amazing. I am coming for all of May! I’ll be working on APW from Seoul and would love a friend. Can I find you on FB? Or you can find me!

      ALSO: I love that our lists almost match. And hoping your process gives you some answers!

      • EF

        seoul is THE BEST. I spent a few months working there and would move there long term in heartbeat. Najva, have an amazing time!

  • Another anon for now

    I’m a little late to this party, but what a great, timely post.

    I kind of fell into my job when I interned for an attorney my last semester of college. She hired me because she didn’t have a paralegal, and I’ve been here for 4 years now. The office is small (it’s just me, the attorney, and the bookkeeper, and we share office space with another attorney and her secretary) and the job itself isn’t horrible. I get paid well enough and I like my coworkers, but I don’t get benefits. And while the work isn’t hard, it is repetitive and stressful, especially since my boss likes to do things at the last minute despite multiple reminders weeks in advance. She’s pretty difficult to work for in general…as a person she’s nice, but she’s extremely disorganized and forgetful, and she doesn’t keep us well-informed about what’s going on. When she forgets about things or doesn’t do them, she doesn’t take accountability and tries to shift the blame to me and my coworker. There’s a host of other issues I could literally write paragraphs about, but I won’t.

    I’ve been struggling with the decision to move on for a while now because I never felt like it was “bad enough” to leave, but lately it’s been getting worse and I’ve been feeling constantly pressured and stressed, particularly because of that “blame shift” thing I mentioned above. I’ve finally started searching for a new job, but even that’s hard. I don’t want to stay in this industry, but I also don’t know where to go next. I think I’ll take your advice, Najva, and figure out what my core values are and what I want out of my job, and go from there.

  • Rebekah Jane

    It’s never been what I wanted to do that was the problem for me. It was how I could do it and still be my best me.

    See, I decided that I was going to be a writer at age 14, when I won my first writing contest. I figured, I like doing this thing and people think I’m good, so why not?

    Of course, what I failed to recognize until years later that as much as I loved writing, there was an inherent flaw to my plan – writing is a solitary activity. It’s you and a computer or a pen, staring at each other, which is sheer torture for my extroverted tendencies. I need a team to thrive and introverts to sap energy from or I fall into an unhealthy spiral of hiding myself from the world, cutting off my energy source and allowing my depression to fully take over.

    After many attempts, I fell into marketing writing, which is basically a team sport. You are constantly communicating with subject matter experts and your fellow team members to create materials that work well for everyone. The constant feedback and criticism keeps my narcissism kinda in check, particularly since there are no bylines involved. And, while the corporate world seemed like death when I graduated college, the structure of going to an office and interacting in a world with certain rules keeps my depression in line. I might have to put on a certain amount of makeup and type of outfit to fit in, but that becomes my battle armor and war paint, arming me to fight against the urge to hide under the covers.

    Of course, that didn’t mean every spot was ideal and I still job-hopped for a while. But, my current environment? After trying to get onto this team since October of last year, I’ve been on the job literally two days and I’m in heaven. My boss is a badass female extraordinaire that has taken me under her wing, helping me already to achieve success. Plus, she likes to have Friday meetings over cocktails. Basically, it’s all gravy for this lady!

    And thank you Najva, for reminding me that I’m not the only one who needed time before she found her niche. Sometimes I look at my resume and see a list of failures, but you reminded me that that isn’t the whole story. The document details my journey and I’m happy with the path that I finally found.

    • C_Gold

      I read your first three paragraphs and thought, my god, it’s ME. Yes. I LOVE writing, but I also need structure and people and that sort of thing.

      I work in academia now (I teach physics–I switched from journalism to physics midway through college), and it’s great. Teaching college kids is perfect for me. But I definitely let all my exciting projects at work be an excuse to not make time to write. It’s really cool that you found a job where you’re writing, but also being an extrovert.

      Anyway, I just wanted to say hello to someone with my same tendencies!

      • Rebekah Jane

        Hello! Glad to know there is another person out there that appreciates an environment of the structural variety! It can be hard to explain such a preference when we’re such creative types, so I appreciate another APWer in this world in that category! Yay our team!

  • AGCourtney

    Najva, I love this piece – it was to cool to learn how you got here! I’m so glad you did.

    Well, I’m in the “rad place of figuring shit out”, thanks for that terminology. I graduated from undergrad this spring, so I know it’s pretty par for the course, but it still feels rather awful sometimes to not have a long-term plan. I’m an evening supervisor in a college library, and the job is a temporary, one-year position for recent graduates. I love it, and since I didn’t end up applying for PhD programs after my wedding like I’d planned, I’m staying another year. When my supervisor actually asked ME if I would like to stay another year, he was elated when I said yes. But during our once-a-term dinner, the other two evening supervisors started talking about their acceptances and campus visits and funding, and I was genuinely excited for them, of course, but I just felt…like that ought to be me. I want that life, I love academia, I want to explore a new city for a few years. But I also really feel called to homeschool my daughter. And sorta want to stay in our hometown. And listings have come up at the college for jobs that I’d love. And I love working in college libraries, I’ve done this for the last few years. So I just feel like I’m flashing between these images of multiple lives, with no clue which one to commit to.

    At any rate, right now, I’m living the dream. I have a part-time job in the evenings that I love, that checks off my boxes like independent, at a computer, free printing – that lets me spend time during the day with my daughter. I have a side hustle, tutoring, that’s working out well for me so far. So I’m grateful for where I am right now.

  • Amanda

    I am going through this soul searching process right now, and I feel like I have been for over two years. I recently transitioned into a new role at the same institution, turns out this new role is way worse than my old role. My boss isn’t flexible, I can’t even go out to lunch, he criticizes my work, I definitely can’t share my ideas because he does not care at all. And everything else is a mess. A lot of my needs are the same as you listed in your post Najva, but I’m finding it hard to take my very specific higher education experience and translating it into something that someone will hire me for! I can tell you….I am not smiling at desk, I have to psych myself up to leave my car to go into my office, I cringe when my boss wants to meet with me, and my anxiety is through the roof. I’ve thought about just becoming a Lyft driver until I can figure things out.

    • You know, if I liked driving, being a Lyft (not Uber) driver actually sounds like an amazing deal. I’ve spoken to many of my drivers and they love it!

  • Emily C

    Anyone else read this and think HIRE ME APW! But seriously, great post Najva, I’m going to give some thought to what characteristics make me happy in a job (interactivity! problem solving! critical reading and copy editing!) and what makes me less happy (dreary repetitive tasks someone is training a computer to do!). It’s interesting thinking about how the list changes over time – I’m really happy to have a lot of flexibility at work right now to be home with my tiny baby.

  • Melissahhaire4


    “my .friend’s mate Is getting 98$. HOURLY. on the internet.”….


    two days ago new Mc.Laren. F1 bought after earning 18,512$,,,this was my previous month’s paycheck ,and-a little over, 17k$ Last month ..3-5 h/r of work a days ..with extra open doors & weekly. paychecks.. it’s realy the easiest work I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months ago and now making over 87$, p/h.Learn. More right Hereoo!991➤➤➤➤➤ http://GlobalSuperEmploymentVacanciesReportsPay/GetPaid/98$hourly…. .❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:❖:❦:::::oo!991…

  • Lindsay

    i’m not really happy in my current job, but it’s a temporary situation because sometime next year my partner and i will do the classic young-adult-new-yorker thing and leave the city to raise a baby upstate. i think a lot about what i’ll want to do then. i’m going to use your method and try to narrow down some ideas that way, so i can use the next year to maybe take a class or two or volunteer to move me in whatever direction i’m feeling.

    oh, and, Navja: i am so freaking happy APW hired you. your writing is one of the reasons i stick around on a wedding site even after having been married for a year and a half.

  • Thank you for this! I went through it myself but you put it in much better words than I could describe to myself. I’m a sales exec for a multinational food manufacturer now & my job lets me travel around the worldhalf the year. I got here also after a lot of soul-searching in Uni right before I graduated. I was a freelance graphic designer on the side & a violinist in a band that played for weddings back then, & creative artsy jobs felt like my dream job. Except when I was actually doing gigs & designing, I wasn’t as happy as I thought I’d be. So what did I really want out of a job? Feeling challenged, being social with different people, & fueling my travel passion. Like you, Najva, I never thought this was the answer either! I’m happy I thought about it back then & ended up where I am today.

  • Evan Harriman

    Thank you for this article!! My wife and I are currently planning an interstate move because we feel stuck where we are. I have a job which, on the surface, is the ideal first job out of school for me, but it is eating me alive from the inside. It checks some of my boxes but not the right ones and checks some of the very wrong ones as well. My wife and I have no ide where we’ll live or work when we move but making this list will certainly help us find the right fit.

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