Do you remember what you used to say to people who asked 'What do you want to be when you grow up?' Chances are you used to reply with something quite aspirational or exciting, such as 'I'd like to be an astronaut/nurse/footballer/firefighter'.
As you grow up though, your thinking becomes a little different. It's great to have ambition you're told – normally a year or so after starting secondary school – however, it's also important to acknowledge where your true strengths lie. By recognising your talents, you can tailor your education to enhance your chances of one day getting a job, which will afford you the chance to earn good money.
And so you do. You opt to take subjects at school which you feel confident of getting good grades in at GCSE/A Level and then you progress onto further education in a similar field or strike out into the job market looking for a position which will compliment your knowledge. If you are lucky enough, you will land on your feet and manage to develop a career in a company, which recognises and appreciates your individual strengths.
By the time you get to this point you will more than likely be in your late twenties or early thirties. If you are fortunate enough to be one of those people who has a talent for – as well as an interest in – your chosen field then you will probably feel quite content with your lot. If you're not, then you may begin to feel an air of lethargic melancholy hanging around you for much of your working day.
The reason for this? You're most likely a little bit bored.
You're bored because you have probably - by and large - achieved what you set out to achieve all those years ago at school: you focused on subjects you were good at, studied hard, got qualified, landed a suitable job and developed a career which ensures you are able to pay the bills.
You did it. The chase is over. Your 'dream' has been realised.
So why the boredom?
Well, there are generally two main reasons why you might feel restless at this stage of your working life: you're either bored of your surroundings or you feel unfulfilled by your work.
Bored of your surroundings
More often than not, you will fall into this category if you started your current job straight after leaving school/college/uni and have been working in a similar role ever since. Chances are, you have got to the point where you feel as though each and every day feels the same and that everything seems just too predictable. It is not as though you don't enjoy the job, or dislike the people you work with; you just feel as though you are, as Pink Floyd so articulately put it, 'comfortably numb'.
Fortunately, this is a relatively easy malady to deal with as it often just entails taking a break from the familiar so that you can really recharge your batteries and look at things from a different perspective. Many companies appreciate that this is a recognised 'phenomenon' and are willing to go some way to helping their valued employees come through the other side. Indeed, some employers will go so far as to sanction extended periods of time off for some employees so that they can reignite their lust for life by taking a compressed Gap Year or volunteering abroad.
Unfulfilled by your work
This is a little more complicated than just being bored of your surroundings as it involves dealing with a slow and often quite uncomfortable realisation – you're not doing the job you want to do. Whilst you may well be good at it and it will more than likely provide you with status, security and disposable income; it is simply not something you want to spend five days a week doing all throughout the year.
It is a sad fact that many people choose to do nothing about this realisation and instead opt to grin and bear it. This is quite understandable, especially when the current economic climate is taken into account. However, if you want to be happy rather than just secure then you need to facilitate a career change.
This can be quite scary. Indeed, making a career change is like taking a step into the unknown in some ways as it involves deliberately distancing yourself from much of the work-related dogma you have been spoon-fed since school.
But this is also what makes it so exciting. You will be following YOUR dreams; making strides to work in an industry that YOU find genuinely exciting. You will feel alive; and if your fortunate and persistent enough, you will feel happy. Without doubt, there are few things more satisfying than being able to say you are doing a job, or working in an industry, that you have always had a genuine enthusiasm for.
We are fortunate enough to live in a time and place where career changes – and breaks – are not just possible; they are commonplace. So, if ever you get to a stage where feeling bored and/or unfulfilled at work is a daily concern, don't just grin and bear it; look into what you can do to improve your lot.
Without doubt, you will be glad you did in the long run.