The Industry Mindset

Complaining about your career: A new perspective.

We all fall victim to complaining and moaning about our careers at some point. This is a concern if it becomes a regular pattern we find ourselves in. Rather than accepting this we must take ownership over the situation and make choices that move us towards our happiness.

We all fall victim to moaning or complaining about our job at some point during our careers. On the most part, it’s normal to have a moan about your career/job and it’s good to get things off your chest, reach out to others and seek support. For whatever reason, our job, our PhD, or our career just isn’t making us happy or is pulling us in a direction (or a range of directions) which begin to create pinch points and periods of stress. This will always come in highs and lows during your professional life, so it’s important to develop a strategy to navigate it well. Understanding burnout, when to take a break from your PhD, exercise some annual leave, implement some boundaries, or whatever else works for you – it’s important you find a way to take the edge off and rejuvenate during your PhD.

However, this can begin to become problematic if this is a pattern that continues to repeat itself, or at least if there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. For instance, you might need to put in a few extra hours here and there to achieve some deadlines – which, in the grand scheme of things, is okay and acceptable (to some extend). This can be a concern when this pattern of behaviour becomes the norm for your job or PhD. Consistently doing over time to the point where it’s just ‘time’ and not ‘over time’ is a big worry. Similarly, if you’re unhappy with the income in your role, it’s extremely unlikely that this will change in the short to medium term. Simply waiting or wanting to have a salary increase isn’t an effective strategy. If in the long term your career goals and life values won’t ever line up, or cannot be realised, it’s extremely important to change course and begin to move yourself in a direction where these goals can be fulfilled.

We may subconsciously already know that these goals cannot be achieved, so instead of switching careers we seek to engage in behaviours that we justify will get us towards our goals. Taking on more responsibility, doing extra work, making bigger sacrifices and stretching ourselves beyond what’s manageable. These end up acting as that ‘carrot on the stick’ motivation, getting you to do more but without ever being rewarded for it. This perpetuates our unhappiness and us moaning or complaining about our careers. The resentment can grow, and it can lead to even more dissatisfaction as your ‘hard work’ is not recognised because quite simply, it isn’t needed or can be rewarded accordingly.  

To really combat this and to find a job or career path that stops you complaining or moaning about, you shouldn’t work harder for the sake of working harder, as a way to obtain the un-promised rewards, but instead you should seek to apply this hard work in a different venture or goal that can actually be realised. Rather than trying to water a dead plant, it might be better off watering a different one altogether. For sure, it’s a lot more comfortable to stick to the devil you know than the devil you don’t – but life is about making conscious choices that move you towards your desired destination, and as soon as you acknowledge and realise you’re no longer moving forwards, for whatever reason, it’s important to steer yourself back on course.

This is what we refer to as a growth mindset and has been discussed in a previous post, believing that you do have power and autonomy to change your situation is the heart of having a growth mindset. Your goal is to move forward, you can embrace change, and you try to change your circumstances through effort – without giving up.

Failing to adopt a growth mindset can keep you stuck in your ways, continuing to repeat patterns, be fearful of change, and remain in your current position – almost accepting and settling for your life the way that it is. We don’t want to do this. We should be taking ownership and accountability for our lives and when things don’t go to plan, or don’t align with our long-term vision, it’s our responsibility to get back on track – even if it means career changing as a way to move us towards our happiness. In short, the best medicine to stop complaining and moaning about your circumstances, is to actively do something about it – it doesn’t need to be revolutionary, but taking the steps and making a choice in the right direction is a key to getting started.

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