There are times in every career, mine included, when we wonder if we are stuck in a dead-end job or company. We may ask ourselves, “Should I stay, or should I leave my company or position?” This happens to all of us, no matter how engaged we are. Now, we have two options to pursue. We can give up and settle for the job we have, doing what we need to get by and please our boss, or we can choose to prepare ourselves for exiting the company at some point in the future. Did you catch that? I didn’t say exit the company. I said prepare for exiting the company. And remember that we need to remain flexible in any job situation to understand the best time to leave.
There really are two main reasons why many of us, myself included, get frustrated early on in our careers. Number one is that we aren’t happy with what we’ve already accomplished in our career. Maybe you just got married, and your spouse’s job and career are going swimmingly. But yours isn’t. Or in the midst of the daily grind, we get frustrated not looking at things from a higher point of view. I fall prey to this one at times, but when I step back and look at things in perspective, I recognize how much I really have accomplished and learned, resulting in personal and professional growth.
It reveals a grave fallacy in the thinking of many (dare I say, the vast majority of) job seekers that entrepreneurship is seen as the escape from the 9-to-5 job working for “the man.” Have you given up on your job search and want to become an entrepreneur? I certainly don’t want to discourage people from entrepreneurship, but I think more people need to know about the risks. They need to reckon whether they are in a position to take on that risk. If you have a spouse and several children and you are the sole breadwinner of the family, I would stay working for someone else. Hopefully you can find something full time that will allow you to work on your business in the evenings and weekends. But remember that it will take at a minimum seven to ten years before you see even a dime of profit. That means you will be losing money for the first five to seven years. You need a significant a nest egg that you can invest in that business and then have a good business plan to be sure that it’s going to return. Don’t reach for education either as the sole solution to your job blues either. It is a costly solution and could make things worse (more debt and still no better job). It’s like being an entrepreneur. Instead of investing everything in a degree or a full-time new business, it’s better to bootstrap things. What incremental move (a single course, a single gig) can benefit you in the short term and lay the groundwork for long-term benefits?
Want more career planning advice? Check out Becoming Generation Flux: Why Traditional Career Planning is Dead: How to be Agile, Adapt to Ambiguity, and Develop Resilience.