What to do when you’re stuck in an uninspiring job

Mayumii asks: I am 23 years old and currently employed in an insurance company, but still not stable on my career. I’m still looking for a job that where I think I’ll belong. Honestly, I still don’t know what are the things that I can do. I don’t know what is my strength, I am 3 years graduated yet I am not able to help my family on their needs. Sometimes I think of myself as very useless. I decided to live alone to be independent, but I am always asking my parents for assistance because of lack of money. All I want is just to have a stable job, but I don’t know what are the things that I can do. Sometimes I can’t understand myself.

Hi Mayumii –

I know this is going to sound odd, but your situation is extremely common.  In fact, I think most people who have lives where they get to choose careers (as opposed to, for example, people who grew up on farms, always knowing they’d work there, or people with governments who choose their jobs for them) don’t know by age 23 what they really want to do.

Or rather, they might know what they’d love to do, but have no way of achieving that right away.  Let’s say you wanted to make a living as a filmmaker.  Great!  Well, you’ve finished your university studies, and you can start making short films for YouTube, or to enter into film festivals, and writing screenplays… and none of those activities brings in any money at all.  Now if you keep doing it, you might find some success, and eventually become the next JJ Abrams.  But right now, you’re just in the struggle.

And what if you don’t even have that clear an idea of what you want?  What if you studied business, and you know you’d like to work in that area, but the place you work isn’t very inspiring, and you’re not sure what would be?

Okay.  Again, this is SOOOOO normal!

And there’s one solution: 

Keep trying. 

Keep finding jobs that might be more interesting, to make some money.  Or keep doing projects that you like that might make money sometime. 

And over time, one of two things will happen.  Either you’ll end up finding the career that both fills your soul and brings in some finances, or you’ll find that that’s not happening, and start looking in places you never thought of before.

We always hear about the Taylor Swifts and Barack Obamas, who knew what they wanted when they were young and were able to pursue their goals with success all along.  But believe me, they’re rare!  Most people are like you – having trouble defining their dreams, and even more trouble pursuing or attaining them.

And then something else comes in to mess things up even more.  Like, say, you fall in love.  Or you have a kid or two.  And it becomes more important to make money, and your dreams switch around a bit.  Instead of “I want to write the greatest novel of the 21st century,” it becomes “I want to make sure my daughter can afford to become a doctor if she wants to.” 

But right now, your job is to work, and learn, and dream.  And make lots of mistakes.

One thing you might like to do in the meantime is read some biographies of people you like and respect.  I find that most high-achieving humans did lots of other things before finding what they became known for.  For example, did you know that Chuck Berry was a hairdresser, or that Franz Kafka was a bank teller?  And apparently both were very good at those jobs, too!  (Though lovers of “Johnny B. Goode” and The Trial probably are quite grateful those fellows’ dreams didn’t end there!)

So dream harder and dream bigger, Mayumii.  And keep working and learning.  And although I’m sure your path will change from the way you envision it – they always do – I have no doubt you’ll end up achieving something great, for yourself, your family, and the world.

And please, keep me up to date on your journey if you can.  You’re very inspiring!


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