The Grass Isn’t Always Greener

You thought it was your dream job, but it isn't--what next?

“I don’t want to go to work, I hate it!” Do these words sound familiar? For months you interviewed for what you thought was the perfect job, but six months later, to your dismay, it turned out to be a mirage. Well, you’re not alone.

After two years as an electrical engineer for General Dynamics in Fort Worth, Texas, Bobby Harges decided to explore other opportunities. “One thing that pushed me toward engineering was the salary,” says Harges. “But once I began working, I realized the job didn’t fit my personality. It was very technical and I am more of a people-oriented person.” He decided that he wanted to teach.

To make the transition into education, Harges, now 38, decided he needed more schooling. In 1983, he left engineering and attended University of Mississippi Law School. After graduation, he practiced law for three years and in 1990 got an advanced law degree from Harvard that prepped him for the teaching profession. Harges is now a full-time professor at Loyola University School of Law in New Orleans.

For most people, finding light within an abyss is difficult. “It’s not uncommon for people to end up in jobs they shouldn’t be in. About 85% of the workforce is disillusioned with their jobs, and nearly 50% suffer from physical or emotional burnout,” says Tom Welch, author of Work Happy, Live Healthy (Rhodes & Easton, $14.95). Before choosing a career, learn as much about that field as possible so that you won’t be misled.

In 1994, when Robyn Merrick took an auditing job with the Louisiana Legislative Auditors Office, she was in for a rude awakening. “I worked in accounting and later realized that the position didn’t offer any room for growth or creativity,” says Merrick. “After two months I ended up hating the job. I was just showing up to work and my heart wasn’t in it.”

Merrick, 29, left the accounting field and went to the Southern University School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, where she earned a master’s degree in public administration. Last year, she landed a job as the policy development coordinator for the president of Southern University System in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Finding happiness within your career takes time and action. If you find that you’re unhappy with your job, take time to evaluate your accomplishments. Sometimes it doesn’t mean changing careers altogether, but fixing what’s wrong where you are. If moving out of your current situation quickly isn’t an option, Welch offers some tips to help you find peace in the valley:

  • Know why you were hired. Ask questions to find out if the job meets your needs. It’s important to know your job responsibilities.
  • Determine how you fit in. Sit down with your boss and discuss the goals of the company. Understand your role in helping to meet those goals.
  • Learn to communicate in your job environment. The better you can communicate with those around you, the easier your job will become.
  • List your accomplishments. Keep a record of what you have done within the
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