One of the the most common causes of career dissatisfaction is the lack of control. It can take many forms: not doing the kind of work you enjoy, working for a boss you don’t like, being underpaid, etc. No matter what your lack of control looks like, it can breed a feeling of helplessness that takes a toll on your emotional state both in the office and outside of it.
Finding career independence starts with identifying what is within your radius of control. What can you do today that will help you gain more freedom tomorrow?
First, I recommend keeping your resume up to date at all times. That way, you’ll always be prepared if a new opportunity comes into view. For similar reasons, you want to keep your LinkedIn profile current and maintain active connections with your colleagues.
If you’re not using your favored skills at work, look for others ways to keep them sharp. Consider taking on small consulting projects or volunteering at a nonprofit. You may even want to take a class or two to keep your certifications current.
If you’d like to acquire some new skills to take your career in a different direction, look into classes at local colleges and online. Again, you’ll want to find opportunities to practice these new skills outside the office.
Nurture your network. Attend events, get lunch with coworkers from previous jobs, and stay connected.
If you’re beginning to feel dissatisfied in a career that used to be fulfilling, it’s time to reevaluate your priorities. The source of your unhappiness is likely a change in what’s important to you. For example, early in your career, you may have been willing to work for hours on end to make the most money possible. Now that you’re older, work/life balance may be more important to you, yet you’re still stuck working 60+ hours a week.
Unlike Independence Day fireworks, career freedom rarely happens all at once. Instead, gaining career independence requires a long-term commitment. But if you put in a little work every day, you will soon be able to take your career entirely into your own hands.
A version of this article originally appeared on Copeland Coaching.
Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at her firm, Copeland Coaching.