“I Have No Ideas And No Time For My Shift. How Do I Move Forwards?”

Melissa is bored out of her mind at work. She needs a new challenge but she's struggling to find the headspace or inspiration to consider her options. Where do you begin when time is short and everything feels so vague?

What's your career history and current job?

I went into science publishing after I graduated from university.

I've worked for the same company for the past 16 years. I've moved around between roles during that time but with no real progression or direction.

I've just tended to take whatever seemed a better role than the one I had at any given time.

How do you feel about your work?

I'm very demotivated.

There is absolutely nothing novel for me to do anymore. There's very little opportunity to develop further skills or learn anything new. I wake up on a Monday and it's all a bit of a grind.

As soon as I get to work, I open my email and realise I have to sit at my desk all day and do this until I go home.

I do enjoy the teamwork aspects of my role, bouncing ideas off people, sharing responsibility, contributing towards common targets, working in a small team of people I get on with. That suits me because I'm quite reserved.

I also like the editing side of things, crafting someone else's ideas.

But, unfortunately, there's limited opportunity for either editing or teamwork.

It's all fire-fighting, lurching from one crisis to another. I'm a planner, and I don't like the constant last-minute panics.

If I were to continue in this role until I retire, on the day I retired I'd be doing exactly the same thing as I'm doing now.

I'm just really bored.

What would you like to be doing instead?

I've always told myself that when I leave this field, that's it, I want to do something completely and utterly different.

The trouble is that I struggle to find the time to come up with ideas. I'm either working or looking after my children, so I don't really have any 'me time' and I'm too exhausted to go out and meet anyone outside of my network.

Most of the people I know are either in IT or accounting, or they're architects, teachers or medical professionals. They're all quite technical jobs, which don't appeal to me.

I don't know how much of me is having an adverse reaction to my role and therefore wanting to throw the baby out with the bathwater, or whether I do want something completely different from a science or technical role. I just have no idea.

I'm not the kind of person who has a passion that bubbles away in the background, or even a hobby.

I'm still in the internal exploratory stage, trying to identify the things that I'm drawn to. I read a lot of the Careershifters blog posts, watch TED talks, take personality tests.

When I've been thinking about what grabs my attention outside work I've realised that I enjoy working things out, finding solutions to problems, ideally with other people. People talk about being 'in flow' and I know I feel like that when I'm in a teamwork scenario.

I'm drawn to crime novels and interiors magazines, not that I'm creative because I'm truly not and those aren't career options for me. But I enjoy looking at home layouts and figuring out what works best, for instance.

I'm definitely motivated by a "thank you" so I have wondered whether some kind of role helping others would suit. I also know I need variety in a role.

These are all really vague ideas though. I feel I've done all the thinking I can do and it isn't getting me anywhere.

I need some external input.

What's the biggest obstacle in your way?

I don't know where to begin.

It's a chicken-and-egg situation. I don't have the time to do whatever's required to generate ideas, but then I'm not even sure what I should be doing even if I did have the time.

Both are equally big stumbling blocks.

How can I start generating ideas quickly in the limited free time that I have?

Can you help Melissa?
  • Have you been in a similar situation, or are you in the same boat right now?
  • How do you think Melissa could move her shift forwards?
  • Do you know anyone she could talk to?

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