By Joni Lindquist

In a recent Harris/University of Phoenix poll, only 14% of American workers are in their “dream job.” That means 86% of us are not. Probably not a surprise,  given that we are coming out of the worst recession in a century and workers have been asked to do more and more each year. For those of you in the majority, what can you do?

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Possible options run the spectrum from “Do Nothing” to “Changing Your Career”:
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Obviously there are many factors that affect what path you choose. These include your age, your company, your industry, your pay, and your level of unhappiness on the job. For many, while you may not be in your “dream job,” your compensation rate makes you willing to endure the headaches associated with it. If this is true for you, it may be smarter to “do nothing.” Life is a series of trade-offs and you need to weigh the costs (stress, lack of work-life balance, etc.) with the benefits (salary, growth, responsibility, etc.) and determine what makes sense for you.

For those who may be the major breadwinner in your family or just feel as if you can’t leave your job but are truly miserable, is it possible to redesign your current role? Perhaps you can spend more time on the tasks and activities you enjoy and delegate to others those you don’t. Usually, the tasks we don’t enjoy are those that do not play to our strengths, so it may be a win-win to find others—subordinates, peers, boss—who have those strengths and can do those tasks easily.

Moving up the spectrum, one option if you are unhappy is to create a new job within your company that interests you. This may sound impossible, but it isn’t. I worked with a client three years ago (in the depths of the recession) who was bored and unhappy in his current role, and due to family considerations, did not want to change companies. Instead, he identified growing areas of concern –green initiatives, data security, and innovation – within his current company and took the qualifying training to obtain certification for a specific area. He then “sold” this new position to company executives and in the process, positioned himself as the ideal candidate. Voila! He created a need within his company and a job that he loves. It takes work, but it is possible.

If you are miserable and ready to make a move from your current company or industry, now is the time to begin the job hunt. While the job picture has had a tepid recovery, there are jobs available. Sometimes a change of scenery to a new company, a new boss, and new company leaders can make all the difference. Determine if you like the work you do but dislike the culture of your company. If so, making a job move may be right for you.
The last option is for those who truly do not like the work they are doing or find that their positions are disappearing with technological change. Depending on your age and situation, it may be best for you to change careers. This choice often requires additional training. The older you are, the more difficult this may be.

I changed careers in my 40s, from a marketing/business planning executive in a large corporation to a career coach/financial planner. I have taken training for all facets of my new role and truly enjoyed learning new skills. While I’m thankful for my first career, this second career is a better fit with my values and life goals and was worth the hard work to make a career change.

For help with your own career transition, schedule a meeting by clicking below, contact Joni Lindquist –, or call (913) 345-1881.

Photo credit: Stefan 1981 / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND