Take action. ‘Don’t wait for inspiration to strike out of the blue,’ advises Professor Herminia Ibarra at INSEAD, one of the world's largest business schools. ‘New thinking doesn’t come from introspection, it comes from new experiences. Be proactive and sign up for any activity that will stimulate – volunteer work or evening classes are great starting points.
Dare to connect. Don’t ask family and friends for advice. ‘These people have the biggest vested interest in maintaining the status quo,’ says Ibarra. ‘Reach out a little further. Make contact with professional organisations, where you can meet peers doing the same job as you, who may provide you with new opportunities.’
Understand the problem. Evaluate whether your dissatisfaction really rests with the work you do, or whether it’s caused by the organisation you work for. ‘Talking to a headhunter in your field is a good way of getting an overview of how other organisations in your industry work,’ suggests The Ultimate Book Of Confidence Tricks author Ros Taylor.
Take a test. Identify your personal drivers. The Complete Mind Makeover by Ros Taylor contains one of the most detailed questionnaires to help you do so. Your drivers will change over time, so revisit every so often to see if anything has changed.
Don’t ditch the day job. ‘Initially it’s best not to jump off the cliff without a parachute,’ advises Taylor. ‘See if you can set up a business while you’re still employed, or at least take the first few steps. You could also go down to four days a week, leaving a day a week for the dream’.
Establish a rainy day fund. ‘Sometimes it’s not possible to make an immediate move,’ says management coach Miranda Kennett. ‘But you can set a deadline. For example, someone might plan to remain at their job for five years until their child finishes school, and during that time they can save up for retraining.
Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to approach your boss. ‘Women, in particular, are bad at asking superiors for what they need,’ observes Kennett. ‘If you need time and/or funding to train in another field, why not ask? No one is going to think badly of you for wanting to develop yourself.’
Suggest a job swap. If there’s another role that interests you within your company, such as a move from sales to HR, it’s worth exploring whether a lateral move could be possible. ‘Companies increasingly want to hold on to good people,’ says Kennett. ‘So the chances are good that they may let you explore other avenues.'
Work on relationships. Often, when people talk about a job that has lost meaning, what they are talking about is poor workplace relationships. ‘These relationships need to be built up and worked on or they can cause huge dissatisfaction,’ says management coach Gary Duckworth.
Make your day job more meaningful. ‘Ask yourself, what are you like at your very best?’ says Kennett. ‘Make sure that, in your job, you do get the opportunity to be your personal best as much as possible. If you feel you have skills that are not being utilized, speak up, as no one else will!’
What's stopping you from creating a career you love?