I remember the first day of my first-ever corporate job. I got on a train at 8:20 a.m. stuffed back to back with sweaty men in suites and women in heels. At 8:50 a.m. the train arrives at a downtown station, hoards of people shuffling out onto the platform and up the stairs. I stood at the bottom, just looking up and watching everyone move almost robotically, as if it was ingrained in their bones. And for some people it was– after 20 or more years with the same company, taking the same train and ascending the same stairs, a commute no longer required much thinking.
I was horrified.
A wave of panic started in the pit of my stomach, filling my lungs and making its way up my throat until I felt a scream sit on my tongue. My swimming thoughts came together to ask a question: “Is this really it for the rest of my life?”
I swallowed my scream and moved in unison with the rest of the commuters up the stairs.
If you read that and felt a panic build in your stomach too, then you came to the right place. If you are unsure about whether a corporate job is for you, here are a few tips:
Listen to your feelings & your body
It can be hard to understand what our feelings are telling us and what they mean when societal expectations or status quo don’t quite sit right. Nowadays, jobs are so much more than just a way to make ends meet– they are an extension of ourselves. Your career will make a significant impact on your lifestyle and will often set the tone for your whole day! Let me tell you this: If anxiety is brewing each morning before work or if your job is causing you to become unmotivated to do the things you love or seek a change in your daily routine, listen to your body– something is up and needs to change.
Ask yourself these three things to get down to the root of the problem
It’s important to get to the root of your negative feelings before you can understand what to do about it. It may feel like you’re trapped or don’t have many options, but in reality you have SO MANY choices (trust me– I’ve been there) and it comes down to making a move once you understandwhat’s going on inside your head.
There are three important questions you need to ask yourself to assess if the corporate world is for you. Don’t rush the answers. Grab a notebook and a pen and really spend some time answering these questions. Jump on Indeed or LinkedIn and search for other corporate jobs within your industry; ask yourself if they interest you. Think of all the different work environments out there and the structure associated with them– for instance, the ever-changing rota of someone in the bustling service industry vs. the standard 9 to 5 corporate or agency environment. Try to keep your responses simple without too many exceptions.
If you did your current job for another organization or moved into another role in the same industry, would you be happy?
The reason this question matters is because it is essential for you to identify whether you are unhappy in your industry and will be looking for a career change, or whether just the role you’re currently in is not right for you.
Regardless of whether you plan on staying in your corporate job or not, understanding where your energy should be directed– either learning new skills or finding a new way to use your current skills– will help make the process more streamlined and really determine what you should do next.
What would it take for you to feel fulfilled after a day’s work?
This might come easy for some and take a little soul searching for others, but the reason this question matters is because once you understand what it takes to make you feel good at work, you will be able to better vet future opportunities and narrow down your next steps.
For some, this question is synonymous with asking about your passions– but for others, passion does not equate to fulfillment at work. Does climbing in seniority in your industry with numerous direct reports and a fat paycheque bring you fulfillment? Or are you happiest when helping people or chasing your dreams?
Would you be happy in a structured, 9-5 role if you were passionate about the work you were doing?
The reason this question matters is because it assesses your work priorities in comparison to your lifestyle needs. Some are content with doing a job they love and earning enough to do the things they love in time off– others are not, and need more flexibility. Which takes priority for you in the long run? The answer is key.
Answering these questions should give you 3 simple identifiers for the next role that’s right for you. Can you find what you need to ultimately feel fulfilled and pursue your lifestyle in a corporate job or would it require branching out on your own? Only you have the answers.
No matter how scary change can be, don’t ignore that nagging voice in the back of your head that is saying something isn’t right. You are YOUNG and have this one life to live to the absolute fullest– don’t let another day go by without taking action on what makes you feel most alive.
Wondering how to find a fulfilling job Check out our blog post: 5 Steps to Finding Fulfilling Work