Are you feeling stuck in your current career? Like it's a dead-end job, or just isn't fulfilling in the way you thought it would be? You're not alone.
According to a Gallup poll, only 13 percent of workers feel happy and totally satisfied with their jobs. Meanwhile, 24 percent said they feel actively disengaged -- in other words, they hate their jobs. Others fell somewhere in between, but the majority of workers were unhappy and unfulfilled.
Don't settle for that in the new year. Instead of continuing to be miserable at your job, why don't you take charge of your career path and get a job you love?
You can make your own job. It's more realistic and possible today than ever before with so much free information available online -- and the openness of the digital economy, too. While it's not an overnight process by any means, you can start working to develop a path to your dream job.
There are three ways to get there: start a side hustle, develop your skills, and volunteer. Consider which option makes the most sense for you. Or try a combination approach and work to develop your career by exploring all three paths:
1. Start a Side Hustle
If you haven't heard of the term before, a side hustle is what it sounds like -- a job you work on the side of your full-time job, in your free time. It's usually part-time and flexible in nature.
Whether you love your current job or not, it's a smart idea to have another source of income in case your primary one dries up. It's also a great way to diversify your skill set and to see if you have what it takes to be your own boss.
Many people freelance or consult on the side to have a creative outlet. If you have a passion for writing, graphic design, coaching or taking photos, there's room for your services in the marketplace. You can also drive for ride-sharing services, create a one-person landscaping company or look for a traditional part-time job that has a flexible schedule.
Many people stick with their side hustles and continue to build their work until they have a legitimate side business -- and then transition from the job they disliked to running their own, full-time business. Starting up a project on the side can be one way to an entrepreneurial life.
But others are content for their side hustles to stay strictly on the side, and that's fine. That's what making your own career path is about. You don't necessarily need to pursue something full-time. As long as your work on the side leaves you feeling happy and fulfilled, you may enjoy keeping it part-time while also taking advantage of the good things about your day job (like benefits or insurance, for example).
2. Develop Your Professional Skills
Are you working in the field you majored in? Few people do. But that doesn't mean you're stuck in your current industry or career if you want to make a change.
Continuing your education after college is crucial if you want to grow professionally. There's no reason to limit yourself to what you can do. If you're unhappy, research various fields you think you might be interested in working in and then look at developing your skills so you're qualified to make a career switch.
And no, that doesn't have to cost another four years' worth of college tuition -- thanks to all the free learning resources online. If you want to learn how to code a website, how to become a photographer or how to design logos, you can take a course on it. You can take a course on just about anything -- or at least watch countless YouTube videos that instruct you on how to succeed at a particular task.
Or make the effort to actually speak with people in the job you really want. Seek out people in industries and fields that appeal to you and ask to pick their brain about what's required. This can help guide you if you're unsure of where to start expanding on your skills and abilities. And networking is always valuable, especially when making a drastic career change.
Once you've found something that you think will be a good fit, dedicate your free time to taking a few courses on it. Lynda, Khan Academy, Udemy, Coursera and Skillshare are all either free or very affordable options (compared to what your degree cost) and offer a wide range of course material. There are many options for formally continuing education online and for free, too.
Yes, volunteering takes up your time and doesn't pay for the work you do. Think of this as an unpaid internship or as another way to network and see if you truly like the industry/job you have in mind. And hey, if you love what you do and you're not getting paid for it, that's a good sign you're passionate about it,
Volunteering is a great way to develop the skills you need and (hopefully) receive one-on-one training with someone who works at the company or nonprofit, too. While not getting paid to perform a job after having a full-time paid position might not sound attractive, think of it as a learning adventure and a positive, productive way to spend some free time.
You could volunteer (or take a free course, or work to develop your side hustle) instead of spending hours watching the TV. It's your choice how you spend that time. If you choose wisely, you can start down the path to getting your dream job.
Sophia Bera is a virtual financial planner for millennials and the founder of Gen Y Planning. She is location-independent but calls Minneapolis "home." She offers a free Gen Y Planning newsletter and is getting ready to publish her first ebook to provide a Gen Y guide to empowered personal finances.