Last time, in Part One of “How to Manage Stress at Work” we listed a number of questions for you to consider to try and hone in on the real source of your stress.

This week we consider the specific problems and stresses caused by career mismatch, how to identify them and how to address them.

This week it’s easy. If you are fundamentally in the wrong career, then you need to make a change or you will never be happy or fulfilled, but before you hand in your resignation, let’s go a little deeper into what it all means.

A job is just that – something you do, possibly for a limited period of time, for a specific company or a set role within a company. A career is the thing you do over your whole working life, which may end up being one job, but most likely consists of many jobs. An occupation is the broad heading for the thing you do, with not much consideration for the company, or level. “Accountancy” for example is an occupation.

We all take jobs in the short-term for expediency or greater goals, (did you ever have a Saturday job?). If you get stuck in something that was meant to be a job, but you have been there so long it is turning into a career, you can start to feel frustrated.

For a Happy Career, You need:

To be doing something which matches your skills, or skills you are happy to develop.
To have a sense of purpose about it.
To have a job which suits your personality (this relates to skills).
To have a sense of challenge or progression.

Other problems, such as right career but wrong environment we look at elsewhere.

Skills Match

You need to go into some detail here about skills – do you enjoy detail, or the big picture? Do you like people, data or things? Do you like working with your hands, with a computer, with people? What are you good at?

Sense of Purpose

In my mid-20’s I had done a lot of work in insurance, and I felt a bit despondent. I thought it was good that people could insure their cars, but we weren’t exactly solving world hunger. My older self, would have told myself to take another look at this one. It’s great to be able to go to work and say you are doing something big and meaningful – saving lives for example, but whilst purpose can be a cause you are passionate about it can also be a set of activities or outcomes.

My younger self might have found purpose in providing excellent service to her clients, finding process improvements to make insuring cars faster, so we could all spend more time on causes, finding ways to make insuring things cheaper, so we could all donate the saved cash to charity etc. Can you find a way to align your work to a sense of purpose that is meaningful to you, without having to change jobs?

Work which suits your personality

Look at the obvious things. If you are an introvert who finds people exhausting, don’t work in front line customer service all day. If you like structure and rules, don’t get a blue-sky thinking creative job. And don’t panic, you can make almost any potential conflict work with thought.

Desperately want to run your own business and be an entrepreneur, but you are the least creative and flexible person on the planet? Take a well-structured, well supported franchise. You just need to be honest with yourself about who you are.

Challenge and Progression

At some point almost everyone finds themselves a little stuck, or bored. Whether you are in a job that you did not want to turn into a career, or you have had a career for too long and it is getting repetitive everyone needs to see that their work is going somewhere. This does NOT have to mean a promotion or a radical career change. Can you evolve your own job in an interesting direction? Can you learn some new/updated skills? Can you make a side-ways move?

What is your work challenge? Do you have a job, a career, a vocation? Let me know your situation below.

Next week, you’ll learn how to alleviate the stress, by focusing in on your companies’ culture – get your head wrapped around it so that you’ll feel confident about approaching and talking to others. Stay tuned.