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Hate Your Current Work, But Can’t Figure Out What’s Next? 3 Idea Generation Suggestions

When the most exciting thing we can think of in our recent memory is the recipe swap at work, it may be time to vary our routines and patterns. Your restlessness may be outside your work world, and there are plenty of ideas for spicing up your personal life (travel, personal enrichment class, an enticing Meetup group), but if you’ve got the blahs in your work world, often you can’t just snap your fingers and add sparkle. Take a reasoned approach and explore these possibilities:

Take Inventory

What’s working in your current position? Even if you dread going to work, there are likely a few glimmers that are worth capturing before you plot your next steps. The book Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans offers an exercise called the Good Time Journal where you record your activities for about three weeks and reflect on your engagement level and energy as you move through these activities. It’s important to notice trends and recognize what’s at the root of your boredom and unhappiness.

Inject Ideas

Many of us can easily put together a list of roles and industries that we might consider for your next career chapter, and that’s useful, so go ahead and make that list. When you’ve put the list together, seek to double it with novel possibilities. Where will you get these ideas? Metaphorically travel down some new roads. Here are some ideas for going off your usual routes:

  • Check out RoadTrip Nation, a PBS television series that’s run for 15 years. The premise is simple: put three people who don’t know what they want to do with their lives in an RV and send them out on the road to interview people who have jobs that intrigue them. You can watch past episodes for a reasonable fee, but just skimming the episode descriptions will offer you ideas.
  • Set a Google News Alert for topics that interest you. I have one for “Jobs of the Future,” but my clients have searches on terms such as “human rights activism,” “digital detox,” and “whole foods nutrition.” Select a few terms that entice you, and get some ideas in your inbox daily.
  • Follow people who are being recognized as pioneers. Check out Fast Company’s list of The Most Creative People in Business. There’s also Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list, a fascinating window into emerging trends in key industries.

Probe Before You Leap

Develop small experiments that you could perform to test the waters as you consider new ideas for your career. Leaps are sexy, but make sure they’re sustainable before you give up what you have. Use informational interviews, set up job shadows, volunteer. Know what you’re getting into before you turn your career in a new direction.

There’s no need to stay stagnant and watch your life drain away in a job or career that doesn’t suit you. Take small steps now to start your exploration and before you know it, you’ll be in a new, invigorating place in your career.