A few weeks back, I posed the question to our Fed Fans: What are you struggling with? I wanted to take a moment to address one of the responses a Fed Fan submitted. It’s a struggle many of us have (or have had) at some point in our careers.

The struggle: I don’t enjoy my current position. But, for some reason I don’t do anything to get another job doing something I’d enjoy more.

I think the average person would likely respond that you must not be that unhappy. And, that once you’re unhappy ‘enough’ you’ll look for another job. But, that’s not a fair answer. When someone becomes unhappy for a long period of time, it becomes increasingly more difficult to choose something different.

Want to be happier in 20 days?

Our 20-day happiness calendar gives you one simple activity each day that will make you happier at work. 

Things that make the struggle harder

You are good at what you do

The great thing about staying in a job is that we get good at the it. We find efficiencies. We learn who gets things done and who can stop things from getting done. Often times, we get to the point where parts of the job become automatic. So even if you don’t enjoy the work, you’re probably good at it and many parts of it are relatively easy.

It’s not easy

The truth is, applying to jobs through USAJobs is a pain. Finding the right job. Remembering your password. Responding to the questions – while trying to guess which answer they want. Uploading the various additional documents. Updating your resume for the specific job. Submitting your application by the close date. And so on, and so forth. The process for a single application could be a matter of hours – to a matter of days and weeks.

Then there’s the emails saying you were selected for an interview – or the ones that say you weren’t. And then…and then…

Escapism

There are many who seek out distraction from the day-to-day dissatisfaction of being in a job they don’t enjoy.

Ok, who am I kidding?

All of us will seek out distraction. Distraction might be anything from watching movies, playing video games, working out, or even excesses with food or drink. And unfortunately, these distractions are pleasant. And as a result it’s hard to tear away from those activities to do something as unpleasant as all the things that go with applying to a new job.

Sleep extremes

If the various escapes weren’t bad enough, there’s the constant exhaustion. Sleep alludes you or overwhelms you – but either way – how can you possibly be expected to muster the energy? Every ounce of the energy you have is probably taken up by just getting through work. I get it. How could you possibly find the extra energy to apply to a job?

Addressing the struggle

Start with a simple search

The absolutely smallest thing is to start is to sign up for USAJobs automatic search results. In USAJobs, you can set up the search for certain key words, location, GS or pay amount, and various other criteria. You can even set up how frequently you get the results delivered to your email.

It doesn’t require you to commit to anything beyond receiving an email. You don’t even have to read it if you don’t want. But on those bad days, you can look through it and see what’s out there. Or, even if you aren’t having a bad day perhaps you just take a look through that email. Perhaps there’s nothing in there one day. Perhaps another day, you see something that’s intriguing enough for you to take the next step.

Break up the task

Similar to taking small steps like setting up a job search, you’ll want to make a list of the various activities involved in applying to a job. And start working through that list one step at a time.

Perhaps update your resume. Or download your eOPF. Scan some copies of your last performance appraisal.

Just one thing. One thing at a time.

Take time off to decompress

While perhaps extreme, consider taking some time off. Enough time to decompress. If you can, go somewhere where you can think and away from distractions. Go long enough to let your mind clear. To get back to normal sleeping patterns (or at least close to normal). Once you get to that side of your brain, use the time to figure out what it is about what your ideal job would be like. Consider what kinds of activities you enjoy doing in your current job or in your personal life. Make some lists, take some notes, or do some journaling.

I know, I know. You might be thinking – that’s not how I want to use my annual leave. That’s your escapism talking. Lifehacker offers an article on when your escapism turns into avoidance and recommendations of how to handle it.

But really, if you aren’t happy and you can’t muster the energy to do something about it – I can’t think of a better way to use annual leave.

If you’re struggling with something that you’d like help with, why not send me an email DrDana at Fedability dot com?