The average person spends more than 90,000 hours working over the course of a lifetime.
Of those average people, about one-third of American workers are described as actively engaged in their work. They have found work they love and work they are good at, and the world is willing to pay them for it.
Statistically speaking, that means that two-thirds of Americans fall into the disengaged category. Not only are you not mentally engaged in your work, you’re actually pretty unhappy there.
Although the thought of finding something better sounds appealing, it also sounds impossible. Staying stuck and accepting the inevitable seems like the path of least resistance.
The problem with this line of thinking is that working in a job you hate negatively affects your health, leading to weight gain, stress, depression, and eventually burnout.
For pharmacists, the threat is even greater. The National Pharmacist Workforce Study reported that two-thirds of pharmacists considered their workload high or excessively high, and 45 percent of respondents said workload had negatively impacted their emotional and mental health¹.
There’s a balance to be struck and it’s this: don’t rush headlong out of one bad job into another unknown position that might be just as bad. Proceed thoughtfully, keeping the following considerations in mind as you go.
- Consider transitioning into new branches of pharmacy
If you’ve researched job transition at all, you no doubt understand that there is plenty of information available on the topic. The Internet is a parade of quizzes, questionnaires, and experts pointing you toward your passion.
Proceed carefully as you pursue this idea of passion, and don’t assume it’s some long-dormant talent that you’ve always had but never truly realized.
Experts in the field believe that passion isn’t an innate ability, but rather the result of hard work and hours of practice in a chosen field. Passion can develop from a new interest or a new opportunity that we embrace and practice.
Steve Jobs, for example, wasn’t particularly gifted at computer programming. What he lacked in know-how, he made up for in opportunity. He took advantage of the people around him who could help him learn the skill. Then, he spent countless hours practicing it. Be willing to try something new. Explore an industry or a field that interests you, and consider opportunities that blend two unrelated interests. The pharmacy field is constantly changing and emerging. Technologies like pharmacy informatics could potentially propel you into a previously undiscovered line of work.
Be willing to explore new possibilities. Step outside your comfort zone and engage with things that interest you.
Stay curious, and then allow that curiosity to work for you.
- Weigh the importance of salary before transitioning
Harvard Business Review reported that employees’ most common career regret was taking a job simply because the pay was good. Taken a step further, unrelated research suggests that artists, who notoriously report high unemployment and low pay, report higher job satisfaction than other workers.
Pharmacy is unique in that its starting salary is higher than in other industries, but there’s a reason for that level of compensation. The work is stressful and the demands of the job continue to increase, leaving pharmacists feeling overburdened and unfulfilled.
The problem, of course, is that many pharmacists adopt lifestyles that make it impossible to walk away from the large salaries.
They buy into the idea that they can’t afford to leave, and they become enslaved to the paycheck.
Understand that living beyond your means represents a choice, and you can choose differently.
Determine to find the balance between job satisfaction and standard of living, and decide whether you’re willing to continue doing the work you’re doing simply because the money is good.
- Consider the health of your network before transitioning
Pharmacists should actively cultivate a strong network of contacts. For that matter, everyone should.
The best news is that it’s not too late to start if you don’t have an existing network.
Your network can encourage you, challenge you, and hold you accountable throughout your career. The people in your network will be aware of opportunities that you aren’t aware of, and they have the potential to connect you to people who can open new doors.
Some experts suggest it’s better to maintain an intimate network of people, while others suggest that quantity is most important. Whichever you choose, the point is to be intentional in your networking efforts.
Understand that networking isn’t simply about finding people who have something you need, but rather developing mutually beneficial relationships with the people around you. Each party brings something to the table, and each has something to offer the other.
If you don’t currently have an active network, begin today by connecting with people you haven’t spoken to for a while. Don’t overlook people who are connected to you socially or personally, either, as they may still have connections you don’t even know you need.
Develop a strategy for staying in touch with the people in your network, and be mindful to share emerging research or industry developments they might find interesting.
Value people and take an interest in them, and they’ll be willing to do the same for you.
- Consider your job’s toll on your personal life
For most people, compartmentalizing is little more than a good idea. It sounds desirable to leave professional concerns at work, but it’s much harder to actually do.
Our constant connectivity makes the task even more challenging because we’re literally always connected via cell phones and mobile devices.
When the work you do makes you unhappy, that negativity can spill into your personal life.
A 2015 study of pharmacists’ work and family commitments, found that increased stress in one place resulted in additional stress in the other. Even worse, the study found that when one member of the family withdraws from daily life because of burnout, the other family members increase their risk of the same as they work to fill the void.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying your days off, but if you dread the workday, you might be in a toxic situation. You must decide whether your job’s impact on your personal life demonstrates a need to move on.
- Keep an open mind when considering transition
With the blinding rate of change in our technology-driven world, it’s possible that the pharmacy industry will soon include fields we haven’t even imagined today.
For those pharmacists willing to stay curious and open to new possibilities, the opportunities will be endless.
Budget money to attend professional conferences each year. Embrace the opportunity to interact with new people in the industry and to explore emerging fields.
Pursue outside interests in the form of volunteer work or other less-obvious means. Identify things that interest you and explore those fields.
Connect with new people and try new things, and you’ll grow a powerful new network along the way.
Consider, too, changing your lifestyle to live within your means so that when a new, exciting opportunity comes along, you’ll be positioned to seize it.
Be willing to walk away from work that costs more than it provides. Determine to make your 90,000 hours the very best they can be.
Alex Barker is a full-time Pharmacist, media company founder, franchise owner, Business Coach, Speaker, and Author. He is also is the founder of The Happy PharmD, which helps busy professionals build successful side businesses.