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A Therapist's Guide to Assessing if You are in the Right Career

Personal Growth, Career, Therapist Guide
5 min read
Black woman with hand on temple sitting in front of laptop

As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Behavior Analyst, I work with many individuals who are in transitional periods in their lives. Whether it is navigating relationships or career choices, I am there to help them identify what their current needs are while accepting the fluidity of life as those needs may change from time to time. 

Sometimes, social media can play a role in feeling like you “don’t have your life together” because everyone you scroll past seemingly does. But I am here to let you know that it is perfectly O.K. to not “have it all together” or to have life all figured out. Social media is not reality, life is a journey, and we are all just doing the best we can…trying to make it work. 

The Great Resignation 

In 2021, the great resignation became a popular phrase to define the drastic changes that were occurring in the workforce. More specifically, during this time, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that over 47 million Americans voluntarily quit their jobs resulting in an unprecedented mass exit brought about by Covid-19.

Even when Covid infection rates decreased and some companies transitioned back to in office work, this was the first time within my lifetime that I witnessed people choosing quality of life over a pay check. This resulted in a rise of entrepreneurs, shifts in career roles (e.g., starting a new career or business idea), and ditching the office setting and working remotely full time. 

Am I In The Right Career? 

So, let’s say that you were not a part of the great resignation. However, you are starting to question if your current role at your employer is the right fit for you. Something that may be helpful is assessing your level of burn out. 

A recent study reports that employee burn out is on the rise with at least 52% of all workers feeling stressed and burnt out with both in person and remote working. This study included employees of all ages, genders, and in various fields, stating that the impact of stress is causing fatigue and mental health challenges.

Here are some common signs of burn out:

  • Mental and physical exhaustion
  • Negative thoughts tied to your job
  • A decline in physical appearance and overall self-care
  • Increased irritability/ “lashing out” on people who care about you
  • Still feeling exhausted at work even after time off or a vacation
  • Feelings of no longer being good at your job
  • Even after completing a successful task, you don’t feel like you’ve achieved anything at all

What To Do Next If You're Burnt Out 

  • Reassess your work values

Action plan: List out your top 5 work values and place them in a hierarchy from most to least important. Once completed, see if your current company/role is aligned with these values. If not, have a chat with your manager to see if there is an option to increase the alignment between your role and your work values. If not, then start the search of finding a company/role that will align more with what you want.

  • Collect data-Pause and listen to your body

Action plan: Start documenting how you feel daily at work. Do you feel more anxious on Sundays? Do you notice an increase of relief on Fridays? Are your moods more elevated when receiving positive feedback from a manager or member of the team? Are you exhausted and irritable at the slight mention of work? 

This will help you discern between if you are experiencing temporary emotions, or if what you are feeling is more acute and a change needs to be considered.

  • Identify your goals

Action plan: Sometimes our goals and focus change and that’s OK. The problem starts when we do not notice the shift between our goals and our current behavior. Take some time to identify what your current work goals are. Do these goals match your current behavior? If not, create a new plan for you to access these goals. 

 

Calculated risks are okay too! You do not have to quit immediately if you are unhappy. You can take sometime and devise a plan. Use this time to start conversations, create side hustles, and increase your networking skills. Sometimes it is fine to start your dream job (after hours), while you’re working your day job (9-5), and you can make the transition when you feel more settled on your next steps.  

Remember, therapy is always a good option for you during times of transition and adjustments. Therapy does not always have to be for a long-extended period of time. It can also be very helpful on a short-term basis to help you navigate the big and small waves of life.

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About the author: Stephanie Anyakwo is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Board Certified Behavior Analyst located in Los Angeles CA. She specializes in treating individuals with anxiety, ADHD/Autism, adjustment disorders, stress, self-esteem and relationship issues. Her goal is to destigmatize the negative connotation of therapy in minority communities and make it accessible for all those in need. Learn more about Stephanie or view more of her work on her Frame profile.