Discovering career independence

Friday, July 2, 2021, Vol. 45, No. 27

Are you feeling happy, or is something missing? If you’ve been thinking of making a change, this could be the perfect time. For many people, the pandemic has forced them to reevaluate what they want.

But, finding a job can take months. If you want to make a change, it’s important to get started before the winter holidays begin to approach.

Often, one of the sources of job frustration can be a lack of control. Whether you’re not doing the kind of work you enjoy, don’t like your boss or are underpaid, you might feel helpless. It’s this helpless feeling that can really impact you each day as you go in. It can make your day seem longer and tasks seem harder.

Finding career independence starts with identifying what is within your radius of control. What can you do today that will help you to gain more freedom tomorrow?

First, keep your resume updated at all times. You’ll be prepared and won’t forget important details later. On top of that, keep your LinkedIn current and connect to your colleagues. You never know when things could change.

If you’re not using your favorite skills at work, look for ways to keep your expertise updated. Consider taking on small consulting projects or volunteering at a nonprofit. You may even want to take a class or two to keep any certifications current.

If you’d like to acquire a new skill, the same advice applies. Enroll in a class. There are many online options. If you don’t have an opportunity to try your new skill at work, look for a way to volunteer your time – either on a nonprofit project or at a part-time internship.

Nurture your network. Take the time to attend networking events. Chat with co-workers from previous jobs. Stay connected.

Reevaluate your priorities. Often, a source of unhappiness can be tied to a shifting of what’s important to you. Early in your career, you may have been willing to work for hours on end just to make the most money possible.

As you’ve grown older, financial stability might be less important. You may now be looking for work-life balance, but are still saddled with a 60-hour per week job.

As you can see, much of the independence we crave is tied back to a self-awareness of what’s important to us. And, unlike Independence Day fireworks, career freedom rarely happens all at once.

It doesn’t go off with a bang of beautiful lights. Independence at work takes time. It takes commitment. It takes a little dedication each day. But if you’re committed, over time you will find that independence, and the happiness that comes along with it.

Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at