In many respects, changing careers is like dumping your significant other. It’s a lot easier to do than solving the problems you’re facing. But in so many cases, hard work and self-knowledge could solve most of the problems. And I have found — in both careers and relationships — that if I get through a tough spot, I learn way more about myself and the world than if I had left and started over. I already know the starting over routine very well. But I don’t know so much about the sticking with it routine.
Each of us is probably better at one or the other. If you are great at starting over, but not so great at sticking with it, I can’t help you with your significant other, but I can help you with your career. Here are five situations when you should not change careers.
1. You hate your boss. This is not a problem with your career. Change jobs instead of changing careers. Or, get better at managing your boss to get the treatment you want.
2. You want more prestige. Get a therapist – you’re having a confidence crisis, not a career crisis. Prestige is a hollow goal when it comes to careers. The quest for interesting, fun, rewarding work is one thing, but the quest for fame is, in fact, bad for you emotionally.
3. You want to meet new people. Try going to a bar, or Club Med. Is the problem that you are not able to make friends in your industry? It would have to be a pretty small industry for this to not be your own, social problem as opposed to an industry-wide problem. Be honest with yourself: Maybe what you really want is to get a life. Pick up a hobby.
4. You want more meaning in life. A job does not give life meaning. And anyway, people have been searching for the meaning of life forever. It’s a highly disputed topic, and probably too charged an issue to lay on your career.
5. You want more happiness. I have said many times that your job does not control your happiness, your mind does. Here’s good news, though: You can give your mind a happier disposition by meditating. I like that there is science behind this (thanks, Dylan). But I was a meditation convert as a volleyball player, before I knew the science.
One of the best ways to teach your body how to do something, by the way, is to watch yourself doing it perfectly, in your mind. I taught myself to jump serve by imagining the serve in my head. I divided the serve into twenty motions. And I imagined them all. Thousands of times. (Wait, look: I am so pleased to have found this video of jump serving.)
But you can’t jump serve if you’re tense. So I had to learn to calm my body through meditation while I imagined the jump serves. Each night I meditated, and instead of focusing on the traditional “om” chant, I focused on the ball.
That was my favorite part of my whole volleyball career. This is how I know that you can make yourself like your career better — any career — by meditating: another reason you don’t have to change careers.