When you ask many people who are dissatisfied in their career what the issue is, they’ll often cite something like the salary, management, or growth opportunities. Maybe they’ll say something less clear, like, “I’m not sure what exactly it is, but it just doesn’t feel right”.

According to the most recent Gallup State of the American Workplace report, only 33% of American workers are engaged in their jobs.

You could probably hit a parked car during your driving exam and get above a 33%.

It’s important to consider why so many American workers are disengaged with their roles. While these employees often cite tactical concerns, could something bigger than that be at play?

Career hurdles come in many shapes and sizes, which is often why employees struggle to pinpoint their exact pain points. Sure, they have a lot of day-to-day complaints, but they often miss the real issue.

Employee complaints can fall into two main categories:

  1. WHAT they’re doing

  2. HOW they’re doing it

The WHAT is all about the content they’re focusing on day in and day out. It’s about aligning their work to their ultimate “career calling” every single solitary day.

The HOW is all about the tactical things: insufficient communication, bad work-life balance boundaries, low salary, poor team dynamics or management. This is also about the patterns employees pick up based on what they’ve learned about work so far (such as balancing the tendency to always be a martyr).

While most people spend their time citing concerns in the “how” bucket listed above, the single biggest barrier is actually the “what”.

Don’t get me wrong — concerns with the way in which you work are absolutely hugely impactful to your day-to-day happiness. Poor communication, negative team dynamics, and the like are all ways to quickly oust someone from their job. What I’m suggesting, though, is that being aligned with what you’re doing is the first step.

As an employee, if you’re focusing on doing the work you ought to be doing, your “career calling” is clear and can be used as your north star in every decision you make. It makes it much easier to sort through the communication gaps and the difficult manager. It keeps you going when the work is particularly tough.

While I’ve been known to roll my eyes at phrases like “love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life” (because it often makes people feel like they’re doing it wrong), I do think that if you love what you do, it’s easier to weather the storm. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be hard days, but it does mean that those days will be easier to push through because you know that you’re doing the work that you’re meant to be.

If you are feeling dissatisfied in your role, the single best thing you can do is to first ensure that you’re doing the work that you’re meant to be doing. That it’s aligned to the “best version of you” and your true calling. Once that is in place, then we can start to go through all of the tactical hiccups with ease and direction. What’s not to love about that?

I’m currently rolling out a new program focused on career clarity for professional women. The “Career Clarity Super-Course” is a month long online group course, with 4 trainings on purpose, a private Facebook group, a supportive community, and worksheets and commitments to ensure you put your grand plans into action. Plus, while I have certain content we’re definitely going to cover, group members are able to request specific topics that are important to them for us to include in workshops. You get to guide our trainings! And through August 18 you get the special launch price of just $99! You’ll walk away with a clear career calling that you see in your job every single day. Talk about a win!

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  • Chris Castillo

    Career Coach and Founder of Empowered Achievers

    Chris is the founder of Empowered Achievers, where she works as a career coach helping ambitious women craft careers that they love.  Originally coming from the corporate advertising industry where she worked on clients like Google, YouTube, and Expedia, she traded in the agency life for the world of talent development and culture. She transformed her own career into something she loved, and is passionate about getting rid of the "Sunday Scaries" for each one of her clients, too.