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Lisa Sodeika, Founder and Principal of L&K Contemporary Consulting

There are pivotal moments in our career when we question our match with our current role, corporate culture, leadership direction, and more. The pandemic gave rise to a remarkable career rethink. In an American Psychological Association (APA) 2021 survey, more than two in five respondents said they intend to find new jobs. The top reasons for career dissatisfaction:  low salaries, long hours, and lack of opportunity for growth or advancement. APA’s survey shows these top complaints persist, and the rate of dissatisfaction has worsened in the past two years. 

Oftentimes a job rethink is put upon us unexpectedly. Don Lemon and Tucker Carlson are recent high-profile examples, but they aren’t alone in getting the ax. In the first three months of 2023, 136,000 employees lost their jobs in major layoffs across the U.S.

Clients reach out to me for a variety of reasons; some are thrown unexpectedly into the job market, but many want to think proactively to find greater job satisfaction, advance their career, or pursue a new venture. They may express their dissatisfaction in different ways, but ultimately, their restlessness is due to a career mismatch.  

I encourage everyone to be consistently conscientious and deliberate in creating their best career. Too many people feel the pain of a career mismatch but do not take action to resolve it, allowing problems to linger and hurt their overall wellbeing. Why is career fulfillment so critical to our wellbeing? According to a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report, here’s how American workers, on average, spend each day:

    • Full-time work:  8.5 hours
    • Sleep:  8.48 hours
    • Unpaid/Volunteer:  1.6 hours
    • Housework, Shopping, Personal Care:  3 hours
    • Eating:  1 hour
    • Total Leisure:  4.8 hours

Your “time spent” may look slightly different than these averages. The point is to remind ourselves just how big a portion of our daily life is spent at work; therefore, it’s critical that it be satisfying, fulfilling work. If your career match is not optimal, please know that there are many resources — mentors, career coaches, professional associations, and books – that can give you fresh perspectives and ideas. Whatever approach you take, taking action to evaluate and reinvigorate your career is how you can create your best career, your best life.

Here are some action-oriented tips to address common career challenges:

  • On Pay:  Do your own homework to understand the market. Talk to peers outside of your organization, network and get to know your field and function. Review job descriptions, speak with recruiters. Assess the market alongside your individual performance and value to the organization. There should be alignment with “role worth” and “your worth.” This will help you benchmark the bigger picture, including salary, incentive, and benefits.
  • On Long Hours:  There can be several factors contributing to exhausting work hours. Are you working efficiently? Are you hiring the best team and delegating appropriately? Are you saying yes to every request, in and outside of your role? Perhaps these aspects are working well, but your organization simply wants more, more, more. Here, it is important to recognize that while some factors are outside of our control, many are within our control. Focus on those, try new approaches to see what works, and then reassess your next steps.
  • On Advancement:  Before having an open conversation with your manager, examine why you are feeling stuck and consider the causes. Your perception of your performance and value may be a mismatch with your employer’s. Can you upskill? Do you feel you need to? I am a firm believer that everyone can be a star when in the right role at the right time in the right organization. Perhaps your role is limited due to the size or structure of your organization. Can you leverage your experience, knowledge, and talents to advance in a different company, function, or team?
  • On Entrepreneurship: Bottom line, it’s OK to change your mind. Perhaps you thought owning your own business would be more enjoyable and fulfilling than it is. Perhaps you underestimated the pull on your family time, or time for personal hobbies. Maybe you’re not bringing in the revenue you envisioned. Whatever the reason, if you have made all attempts and still find yourself dissatisfied, move on. Take pride in the fact that you took the risks associated with this learning opportunity. Explore new organizations, functions and roles that may better suit you.
  • On Retirement: Yes, retirement can be a career mismatch! You were bored, burnt out, frustrated and exhausted. You thought retirement is what you wanted, but six months on after catching up on rest, vacation, home repairs and hobbies, you are bored to tears and feeling you still have more to give professionally. If Tom Brady can change his mind, so can you! There are many, many avenues to explore now that you’re able to do what you want, when you want.

Whatever your career mismatch or challenge, I, or another professional coach, can support you in your journey. I enjoy helping people reach their fullest potential, and can help you see the big picture, avoid mistakes, and take action to address your career with confidence and optimism.

As principal of L&K Contemporary Consulting, Lisa Sodeika collaborates with leaders to tackle real-time career and business matters with practical, relevant, and actionable counsel. Sodeika has three decades of C-suite experience leading business operations, public affairs and regulatory strategy for global Fortune 500 companies.