My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging. ~ Hank Aaron
At the beginning of my career, I was young, enthusiastic, and excited about my future as a federal employee. Now, I find myself in a career slump.
Doing well in life can suddenly come to a halt and be replaced by doubts, frustrations, and blues. Career slumps do not discriminate; there is no correlation to years of service, career choice, age, race, or sex.
Research says job satisfaction increases steadily with age, but I am an optimistic and tend to lean more towards the research that says that job satisfaction is more u-shaped. It starts strong early in your career and then, declines before steadily rising again. At least, I hope that is how it will work.
So what caused the career slump? I believe that as I rose the career ladder, my responsibilities increased, but the support received decreased. Support tends to decrease as peers compete for scarce resources. I can remember a time when federal offices and cubicles were filled with employees. As I look around my office today, there are a lot of empty cubicles and unused space.
I am constantly trying to get “my swing back” and have even considered a career change. However, this may require a significant pay cut. In my 20’s and 30’s, a pay cut would have had little to no impact. In my 40’s, a pay cut could “break the bank.”
I have also taken less drastic measures such as completing training classes to ensure that I have the necessary work skills; applying and interviewing for jobs to remain marketable; and networking to stay connected. Before the Great Recession, this would have “done the trick,” but now, the offers and opportunities are less and less. Here again, we are all competing for the same scarce resources.
I have not given up, and it helps knowing that I am not alone. At least 5 or more friends and coworkers say they, too, are not where they want to be professionally. We do our best to encourage one another.
For those of you who went through a career slump, what are some suggestions for making it out? For those of you who are still in a career slump, what are you doing to stay motivated? Remember, you are not alone. “Keep on swinging.”
1 In 2008 and 2009, the U.S. labor market lost 8.4 million jobs.
Cynthia V White is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.