553: Bored at Work? How to Transition to a More Fulfilling Career

Boredom isn’t something you should just grin and bear in your job. There is such thing as fulfilling work. Learn how to go from apathy at work to a meaningful career!



Lisa Vu, Project Manager at UCSF

Lisa transitioned from an under-stimulating job in research to fulfilling work improving vaccine rates in her local healthcare system.

on this episode

Burnout, we can all picture it — staring at your computer, feeling overworked, unappreciated, and completely stressed out. But there’s an equally draining struggle that’s not talked about enough — boredom.

Burnout is often characterized by overwork and stress, whereas boredom stems from a lack of stimulation. Both leave you exhausted, feeling empty, and unable to cope with the demands of work and life. That’s how Lisa Vu felt as well:

“I wasn’t being overworked and burned out the same way that you typically hear people going through career changes, or who are very stressed at work. It made me feel even more alone in thinking that I shouldn’t be complaining.”

Her job came with a lot of autonomy and flexibility, but she was extremely bored with the work, isolated because her job didn’t require much collaboration, and she wasn’t receiving any feedback.

Boredom at work can feel isolating. It’s easy to let mental barriers keep you from making a change — thoughts like Lisa shared:

“I think what really kept me in my role was this kind of narrative of, ‘I have it pretty good now’ or, you know, ‘People would kill for a role where you didn’t have to do a ton and got little oversight and I kind of got to do whatever I wanted as long as I got the job done.’”

But boredom at work isn’t something to aspire after, you’re not alone if you’re feeling under-stimulated by your job and wanting a change.

In fact, did you know that “boreout” is an official psychological disorder?

Some signs that you’re experiencing this are lack of motivation, feeling siloed and an overall sense of apathy.

Feeling stuck in a boring job doesn’t mean you have to remain stagnant. Lisa decided it was time for a change, reached out to us, and we paired her with a coach!

As Lisa began working with her coach, she realized she needed to look outside of Research, but she found herself unable to look at anything besides what she was comfortable with.

And don’t we all do this?

We know that we don’t have exposure to what else is out there, but then we go to an organization’s careers page and the first thing we look at are the roles we already know something about — it’s insanity but it’s like we just can’t help ourselves.

“Let’s not look for roles that are exactly what you do already. Even just opening roles that were completely different than what I was used to — that little thing was kind of a big thing for me to just let myself look at something.”

Lisa realized she kept returning to her research comfort zone and she somehow had to escape that, so instead of going completely rogue, to a new industry and new role, she decided to look for new roles within her current organization, the University of California San Francisco, which luckily has a ton of different departments and jobs!

If you’re in a position where you are bored and under-stimulated, a career change should be on your mind; however, career change is not an overnight journey. But there are some immediate actions you can take to make your situation better!

Seek out new challenges at your organization, propose new ideas to your team or your manager, and ask to take on more responsibilities. Take charge of your own professional development and seek mentorship opportunities. These small tweaks can make a big difference in the day-to-day enjoyment of your job.

Boredom at work isn’t something you should just grin and bear. Take action now and you’ll be one step closer to more fulfilling work!

What you’ll learn

  • How isolation and mental barriers associated with being bored at work can keep you trapped in a job
  • The silent struggle of workplace boredom and how to escape
  • How your ideal career may be closer than you think, possibly in the same organization
  • The common challenge of breaking out of your comfort zone to explore fulfilling work opportunities

Success Stories

I convinced myself for many years, that I was very lucky to have that job, and I would be crazy to leave it. I convinced myself that the team needed me even though I was miserable. And ultimately, it took me getting physically sick to realize I needed to leave! One of the biggest things that I learned out of the signature coaching was on designing my life. And this is another thing that I had really never, it had, I don't know, if it had never occurred to me. I just never believed it was possible until now.

Michael Fagone, Mortgage Loan Officer and Finance Executive, United States/Canada

The role is meeting my expectations… totally owning the marketing function. And luckily the founder/president is always forward-looking – he just presented us a huge strategy doc for the next year. So there will be an opportunity for us to grow beyond our initial audience, which is great. I applied (against conventional wisdom!) and went through a lengthy interview process. I did use the resume/cover letter chapter quite a bit to customize what I used to respond to the ad. I also found that using the Interview chapter was super helpful in formulating “SBO” oriented responses, and I even used some of them in the interview. Having those “case study” type responses was really helpful and I believe cemented my candidacy. BTW – they hired me completely over Skype and phone! I never met anyone from my company (in person) until last week at a conference.

Erica Fourrette, Marketing Director

Lisa Vu 00:01

I wasn't being overworked and burned out the same way that, you know, you typically hear people going through career changes or were very stressed at work. It made me feel even more alone and that even thinking like, "Oh, I shouldn't be complaining."

Introduction 00:23

This is the Happen To Your Career podcast with Scott Anthony Barlow. We hope you stop doing work that doesn't fit you. Figure out what does and make it happen. We help you define the work that is unapologetically you, and then go get it. If you feel like you were meant for more, and you're ready to make a change, keep listening. Here's Scott. Here's Scott. Here's Scott.

Scott Anthony Barlow 00:48

Is being bored a good enough reason to leave my job? We actually get asked this question quite often. And I'll say this first. You don't need to justify wanting to leave whether you're burned out and overstimulated or bored and under-stimulated, you deserve a career that fits you. But here's the thing, this question gets me thinking. Burnout is talked about a lot. I mean, 500 million results came up when I typed a burnout into Google. But the thing that's not talked about enough, and why many people feel so alone when they experience it is how being bored and unstimulated at work can be just as draining as burnout.

Lisa Vu 01:33

I think I became very apathetic in my last job where I was at for seven years. And that was just such a dangerous place to be. And it's just so subtle, too, which makes it really hard. And so I think, once I realized, like, I just was at a point where I just don't care.

Scott Anthony Barlow 01:52

That's Lisa Vu. Lisa was working in research at UCSF, and like many of you, she was bored at work. So very bored. She was feeling very siloed. She was unable to collaborate and was not receiving any feedback. She could basically do her job and no one else would know. Okay, so some people would listen to this. And because her job was so very low lift and had almost no oversight, she knew that many people would kill for her type of role. But it wasn't right for her. And so she decided to find something else. And as she began working with her coach, she realized that she needed to look outside of research. But then she found herself unable to look at anything besides what she was comfortable with. This was a really interesting phenomenon. And don't we all do some of this? We know that we don't have exposure to what else is out there. But then we go to an organization's careers page and the first thing we look at are roles that we already know something about, it's insanity, but we just can't help ourselves. So Lisa realized this mid-career change, and she kept returning to her research comfort zone. And she somehow had to escape that. So instead of going completely rogue to a new industry and new roles, she decided to look for roles within her current organization, the University of California, San Francisco, which luckily, has a ton of different departments and jobs. Now, towards the end of this episode, Lisa and I walk through her ideal career profile, and examine all of the must haves she identified, and how she searched for them during her job hunt. So I want you to pay attention for that. It's really interesting to connect it all back together. Lisa is now a project manager with UCSF where she works to improve vaccine rates in her local healthcare system. So let's get into the conversation. Here's Lisa taking us back to the beginning of her career.

Lisa Vu 03:47

I graduated during the recession. And so that's sort of kind of, not dictated my career path but it was hard to get jobs. So for one, it was my first crossroads of what do I do with my life. I really didn't have a clear plan. And I think through a connection when my friend's friends was like, "Hey, I know someone who's hiring for a research assistant position." And I interviewed and I got it. And this was like, six months after I graduated, which was actually pretty good for the time because I knew people who would take or it took 9 to 12 months to get a job. And so I was a research assistant, and then a research coordinator for a couple of years. And then I had talked with a friend who got a Master's in Public Health. And so I decided to pursue that before I accepted my job and took this job in order to get more experience for it. So I went to school, went back to school, it was a really great experience got to meet a lot of people and take a lot of great classes. And then I graduated after a couple of years. And then I took a job as a project manager working on a lot of cool projects. But it was a job that was not, looking back, it was a pretty unhealthy environment. And so it was also another point of like, I suppose, graduating again, and what do I do next. And so I actually was offered two jobs. One was at the place I used to work before then, and it was very familiar. And it was kind of the same job I did before but a little bit more money. And then the other job, which was the stressful job I ended up taking because it paid slightly more, but I felt like oh, I need more experience, something different. And so there's a lot of great things I learned from this job right after grad school. It forced me to get outside my comfort zone and really forced me to lead as a project manager in ways I wouldn't have before because I would have just been wanting to have someone show me what to do. But that wasn't really the case. It's just gonna... you're just thrown into it. So which is not uncommon.

Scott Anthony Barlow 06:16

That is not uncommon. True story.

Lisa Vu 06:18

Yeah. So, but it was just not a place that had enough support, in my opinion. And we kind of have very high expectations where a lot of people like in my position with less experience, you know. And so I eventually decided to look for another job. My next role was being a, like, a research lead for... It was really cool. The work for this company was very cool. We did social marketing type work, especially in public health. So if you see an ad for, like, HIV testing, or smoking cessation, it would be like plastered around the city and in other cities as well, we had clients in different departments of health in New York. And so our work would be like, that was really cool work. And I supported that with my research knowledge and skills. I was the research department, I guess. And so I was the one person, it was a very small group of people. So that was very fun and cool. Although, after a couple of years, I realized that was very under-stimulating and not challenging for me. And I was, like, the one person that did it. And, I look back and consider that as like kind of my buffer position to kind of recover from a previous toxic position. So it was very easy for me, it was very comfortable. So I was like, "Okay, this is good. I need this to kind of recover from that previous job." But I didn't really, I think looking back, it would have been beneficial to think about. I think I thought about what I didn't like, and what I would do differently. But I didn't really do the internal change type of stuff. Like I was doing direct coaching. And so I think that led me to kind of repeat the pattern of just continuing to stay in my comfort zone in this next job where I would be at for seven years.

Scott Anthony Barlow 08:16

Does it been a pattern for you in other places? Besides those two roles.

Lisa Vu 08:20

The first role I had right outside of or right after undergrad, that was also a very comfortable role. And so I feel like most of my career except for the one toxic position, that was very stressful most of my career. If you're counting the four roles now.

Scott Anthony Barlow 08:38

Oh, I count it.

Lisa Vu 08:39

Yeah. The three out of the four were very just lowkey independent, which sounds really great, right? So like, I'm getting paid for doing, you know, just, yeah. So it was just familiar and comfortable. And that's kind of what I knew.

Scott Anthony Barlow 08:58

But also simultaneously, it sounds like not the type of stimulation or challenge that really was beneficial for you. And sounds like not necessarily the type of collaboration or involvement with other people that you were looking for, as well.

Lisa Vu 09:16

Yeah, I mean, I will say I think the people were probably it.

Scott Anthony Barlow 09:22

In what way?

Lisa Vu 09:23

Well, I will say that the really unhealthy job I had, the best part was the people, like, we supported each other. We're all stressed out of our minds, but we were there for each other, we hung out, not like you know, like I have to be best friends with people outside of work. But it was just we had this camaraderie that are just really appreciated. And same for other workplaces that they're just really helped make the experience better for me. And it was something I overlooked because my most recent job that I left that was quite unhappy and it did not have any of that. And so, it was something I kind of felt early on, but I ignored it. Because it was something that I felt was too small of a reason to move on and find another job. And I didn't think about this until later on in my career coaching. But yeah, when you're in a job, when you're working, because it's full time, takes a lot of your time, you're being conditioned, one way or another. And it was like, "Wow, I did not realize that." And that's really what I felt was happening in my previous job where I was not really getting interaction, I was not getting feedback about how to be better, or growth or, you know, anything like that. And so that really, I just was felt conditioned to because that was my reality. And I felt like that was normal. And that was what it was supposed to be. Which is, yeah, that's kind of the scary part.

Scott Anthony Barlow 11:00

At what point did you recognize, do you remember any point in time where it caused you to then feel like, "No, I have to do something about this. I have to do something different." What was that point in time for you?

Lisa Vu 11:12

I think just frustrations at work just started getting more amplified. Maybe beforehand, it was just an annoyance. But I was getting very frustrated. And just like, starting to get thoughts of like, I don't want to be at this job, or I should start considering something else. And also just thinking about, like, maybe my friends and husband are tired of hearing me complain all the time. But more of that it's like, oh, I'm doing this a lot more. And so. But just I noticed how things would set me off a little bit more than it used to. Another added thing is that didn't help was, of course, the pandemic.

Scott Anthony Barlow 11:55

Just throw a pandemic on top. Exactly.

Lisa Vu 12:00

I think I probably would have started searching sooner. And I think I was within the pandemic happen, looking for another job or another career path or whatever. And at that time, it was very hard to think about like, well, I have my very secure job right now. And so where I, thankfully, don't need to use too much of my brain, you know, and that's what felt like. So it was helpful at the time at the beginning, with all that was going on that I didn't need to have to be checked in as much and still be on top of my job. But after a while, yeah, I think what really kept me in my role was not this kind of narrative or thoughts of, I have it pretty good now. Like, you know, people would kill for a role where you didn't have to do a ton and got little oversight, and I kind of got to do whatever I wanted as long as I got the job done.

Scott Anthony Barlow 13:02

So for you, the couple elements that were really great, like having that ability to act pretty independent, pretty flexibly, had a lot of autonomy, and just delivered the results. The thought of giving that up, if you will, kind of overshadowed and kept you in that role for it sounds like longer than you want it to be.

Lisa Vu 13:27

Yeah, that plus the fear of entering a very toxic environment like I had done in the past. Especially as I was hearing about a lot of people I knew who were in those types of environments themselves, especially during the pandemic, where jobs are cut, and people had to take on, you know, two roles without getting compensated for it. It would just made me more scared. I think my anxiety just got especially heightened with the pandemic and that just translated to being anxious about moving outside of my comfort zone for work, also.

Scott Anthony Barlow 14:10

Okay, let's talk about that then. So when you finally made the decision, "Hey, look, I'm doing this. In one way or another, I'm going full in and I'm gonna make this change." What did you do at that point? What did you try at that point? What did the beginning stages of making a change look like for you?

Lisa Vu 14:31

It was really listening to a few different career change podcasts, including yours, because I'd never heard, like, testimonials or people's stories like that, that sounded like mine, which was very eye-opening for me because I just felt alone because I wasn't being overworked and burned out the same way that we typically hear people going through career changes or who were very stressed at work. It made me feel even more alone and that even thinking like, "Oh, I shouldn't be complaining." Of course, that's looking back now, that was just not helpful at all. I was just kind of kicking myself while I was down. But yeah, it was very eye-opening to hear the stories. And then I think with your podcasts, you're the only one that has actual client interviews. And so that was especially helpful to hear different varieties of stories. So even if it wasn't exactly the same, there were many components that really resonated with me.

Scott Anthony Barlow 15:37

Well, I appreciate that immensely. And the other question that I have for you, too, is, when you think about this process, what was the hardest part or most uncomfortable part for you, through the process of career change?

Lisa Vu 15:56

I don't know if I can pick a singular one.

Scott Anthony Barlow 15:59

But let's go for a few.

Lisa Vu 16:01

Yeah, at the beginning, it was a little bit hard because I didn't know anyone else who had done incurred career coaching, and especially the investment involved, it's like, oh, you know, the thoughts of, I don't know, I have to pay money to do stuff. I could be doing on my own. But then eventually got to a point where it doesn't matter. Admitting to myself, I need some help with this and that's something I've always struggled with, is reaching out for help. And so this is where I'm at least the one thing I didn't know what I was going to look like, I didn't know exactly what I was going to do. But the one thing I was trying to tell myself is like, this is your chance to reach out for some help.

Scott Anthony Barlow 16:49

Yeah. So people who have that same tendency to think, oh, I should do this on my own. I should make a career change on my own. I should mow my lawn on my own. I don't know pick the thing in here. But we're talking particularly about pursuing an intentional career, which, strangely is, we all know this isn't really something like we're taught in college or anything else. But we all sort of think that we should do this on our own. So what advice would you give that person who's going through a bit of that I need to do this on my own?

Lisa Vu 17:20

I mean, it is worth it to look outside of yourself even if it's not involving another human being coaching you like looking whether that looks like resources or learning some more because I just don't feel like we're meant to take on something so big like this by ourselves. And there's just too much for one person, not to mention that there's just so much we've kind of been programmed or ingrained about what the job hunting process is. Unless you've made lots of different changes to your approach over your career, if you're going to be doing the same thing and especially doing it by yourself, you're probably not going to yield many changes. So yeah, I definitely highly advise people, and I get for some things there's an investment component that's totally understandable. But it's so worth looking at least getting an additional perspective or just learning something that you don't know already about approaching career change. I highly advise it. Yeah, you're not weak. You're not like, I just don't know where that came from where you have to do something yourself. But yeah, I don't know. I think it's this culture of independence that something about like, you should be able to do this on your own. But even if you could, you don't get that outside perspective. Because there's such a huge world of different careers and career types and all these aspects that go into a career like how are you going to do that on your own? Whether it's doing what you know already and whatnot.

Scott Anthony Barlow 19:09

Yeah. So this is one of the thing that I wanted to just ask you about, you've mentioned it a couple of times, just about getting outside your comfort zone. And when you initially got into your ICP, being an ideal career profile, which behind the scenes is a simple tool that we use in order to begin to build what we call our ideals and minimums or rather a checklist of what you might need for your next career change. Anyhow, so you came up with some of those hypotheses that, yeah, more than one hypothesis that you wanted to explore. And I wanted to ask you first about it after you got past that stage and got into reach out that seemed to be an area that was very outside your comfort zone, what made it outside your comfort zone, and what helped with that?

Lisa Vu 20:08

I think it was... So what my struggle was, I would get just get ahead of myself when I'm thinking about who to reach out to, it was easy for me to reach out to my friends who were in the career path I was exploring. But, you know, I needed to reach out to beyond that. And so that's where I got kind of in my head, like, thinking ahead and trying to predict like, "Oh, they're gonna think this and that", and it just kind of getting in my own way versus just doing it. And so I think what really clicked for me to do, it was like, this is just experimenting, and I started thinking kind of like, a researcher. So you're testing hypotheses, like you said, and there's no outcome you're aiming towards, like in research. I mean, of course, you might have things that you might be leaning towards happening, but you don't let that affect you, that's a bias, you know, what that affects your outcome. What your outcome is your outcome. And that's what it is. And it's not right or wrong, you know, and so, I don't know, if something just clicked where I just gotten to a research mind and was like, if it ends up being something that doesn't work, then it doesn't work. And that's where I find out and, I know that's what's been in your boot camp. And that's what been practiced with the method and coaching, but it just didn't click until kind of then. And then that's where I started just firing off some messages on LinkedIn even, I was a little nervous about that. I'm like, I haven't really done a cold message on LinkedIn before. And I think emailing people within my academic institution because it's really big. And then, of course, as predicted, or as you know, said, the actual interactions were pretty good. People were very willing to talk. And I think looking back, that was what I was a little nervous about, like, "Am I bothering them?" But most people were really willing to talk. And I would say, it was the practice of doing that that led me to my job, rather than the connections, but also, what I learned along the way helped for me to strike out anything like okay, maybe I don't want to do this.

Scott Anthony Barlow 22:34

What's an example of something along the way where it came up and you're like, "Yeah, this isn't right for me."? But obviously, it sounds like now you look at that as great feedback. But what's the example of a time where that happened?

Lisa Vu 22:49

Oh, there's a role I was looking into. It was like a protocol manager because one of the things I uncovered or was trying to during my whole process was, "What do I like to do?" So I was like, I actually like to write up protocols, which as nerdy as it sounds, but it's just like, I just like doing stuff like that and writing things that or making resources for people on informing them how to do things or understand something better. So, there was a role specifically for that. But then after I talked to a couple of people, I learned that that role, at least at my institution, has been transformed to something that's more supervisory, which I didn't really want, at least not more than a couple of people. And this would be part of my job. And I didn't want that. So I was like, "Okay, maybe not that."

Scott Anthony Barlow 23:43

That's amazing. That's really cool. Because it sounds like you initially thought, "Hey, this could be something that is great for me." It seems to fit at a phase level. And then as you got deeper in, as you had some of those conversations it sounded like, then you start to get in indications that, nope, this is... yes, maybe that stuff is there. But also included as a whole bunch of other things that are really don't want.

Lisa Vu 24:11

And what drew me to it was, I probably would have been a good candidate because it's familiar in certain ways. And I think I have the background for it. And I was told, as such from the people I talked to, but yeah, that was something that was hard to tell myself because I think that was something I realized about myself, whatever I'm very qualified for, or seems easiest to get, in a way, that's what I get drawn towards, but without really questioning whether does this fit with what I said I want.

Scott Anthony Barlow 24:42

That's really amazing because you, one, recognize that about yourself, which is huge just on its own, but also, you were able to turn... can stop pursuing this particular opportunity. And so I'm curious what caused you to be able to say, "No, this is just not for me."? When every time in the past you would have been like, "Yeah, I should keep going."

Lisa Vu 25:12

I think it's, I mean, the ICP and all the work I've been doing, and really the investment. I was just like, I want to make sure it's very aligned, and not just take the easy way out. So I think knowing that, well, especially the parts I didn't like about the role, as tempted as I was to kind of ignore it, I knew I just wouldn't have liked it. Or that was just an aspect that I wanted to listen to that. And also, because I'd been in my role, the role I was in while I was looking for a job for so long, I wanted it to be very, as aligned as I could be, not necessarily a perfect job, but just aligned in the ways I wanted it to be. So I didn't want to leave my role for just the next thing.

Scott Anthony Barlow 26:03

When you say that it was partially the ICP, what about the ideal career profile helped in that situation?

Lisa Vu 26:14

Just all the areas, the aspects of the career that I had listed out that I try and remember what they are, but that I wanted on.

Scott Anthony Barlow 26:24

Example of one minimum here. And this comes from Megan on our team who you got to work with. She said, you know, having at least one other person who understands my job role, and I can go to with questions, that'd be an example of your minimum, you must have that at all costs. But then your ideal will look like having more than that having at least three people who understand my job role and I can collaborate with.

Lisa Vu 26:47

Yeah, because in my past roles, I was the only one that knew what I knew. I mean, I am like that to an extent, at least where I work now, there's at least another project manager who may work on different projects, but she has the knowledge of being one already where I work, and I can go to her. And that's what I wanted. But it didn't have before. It was very lonely in past roles to really feel like I didn't have anyone to go to. I'm sure if I really put more energy into it, I could have found something. But like kind of talking about conditioning before I felt in a way that I couldn't really depend on my environment to help me out.

Scott Anthony Barlow 27:31

So let's talk about that. Because one of the things that I think you did very well, and I know Megan agrees, was making some mindset shifts. And one in particular, and was realizing that you could trust yourself after you had some of those past experiences, past roles that had constantly made you doubt yourself. So I'm curious, what did that look like for you? What did that mindset shift or some of the mindset shifts look like? And how did those help?

Lisa Vu 28:03

I would say one of the first ones was when her and I were thinking of what two different paths to explore. And this was one of the reasons I signed up for the coaching because I was like, I literally don't know what to put in my search engine. Like, what I know. So a little part of it was like, "What do I put in there?" I mean, it's more than that. But she asked me, let's think of four or five different paths, or jobs or whatever that you'd want to explore. And I came up with two or three. And that was hard for me to come up with the rest because I was just in my head about what I could or, quote-unquote, was allowed to pursue. And so her encouragement of kind of just thinking outside it, even if there was just no chance of me, you know, being, I don't know, that's me kind of channeling the voice I had back then, you know, like, I only wanted to explore if I knew there was a chance of being good at it or having some success with it, or some degree of success. But coming up with those things to put in a search engine or ideas of pathways to explore, I think that was a big mindset shift. Because one of the things I was interested in exploring was just the field of human-centered design, user experience, a lot of different words for it, but you know, and even like the word design kind of was limiting to me at the time because I was like, I'm not a designer or just the way I thought about it.

Scott Anthony Barlow 29:45

I can never be a designer.

Lisa Vu 29:48

Yeah, but that was what helped me even exploring it. You know and so, I've talked to a lot of people who are in the field, like friends and otherwise and I learned that it was a very good fit for what my interests were and my skills. And the cool thing about human-centered design is it's not so exclusive where maybe certain roles are but like any, I feel like just like public health, a lot of different industries or a lot of different fields can go alongside it or utilize it.

Scott Anthony Barlow 30:24

Yeah. So that's interesting. So what I hear you saying is that, initially, the way that you were thinking about even paths to explore, you found yourself kind of qualifying those or not allowing you to explore and so you were trying to come up with, use the example, like, I'm trying to come up with four or five different paths, but you could only come up with two or three, because you were editing out all the rest of those that actually could have been a good fit. And then, that's fascinating. What advice would you give to someone else who finds themselves doing the same thing? Because I think that's pretty common. It's pretty common for us to say, "Oh, I could never do that." Or, "Oh, but that's only for people *insert*." What advice would you give to people who are thinking that?

Lisa Vu 31:14

I mean, I think this is something along the lines of what Megan told me, just give yourself permission to just explore, I'm trying to remember how she said it, but just exploring really without an outcome. And that's hard, I will say that. But to just not think of the outcome, which the angles to get a job, right? But once I started not thinking about getting a job, then it became a lot more exploratory, more creative. And it kind of got me a little bit more in touch with just the creative side of my brain to in this process, just like how important that is. And I just never use it in terms of my work and stuff. And just allowing yourself to not be attached to, which is hard. Because when I was exploring, I would still automatically go to the careers page of a company and see what roles, and then I would do the qualifying thing like, "Oh, this would be good." But I will say for me, it took a while to break out of that. So...

Scott Anthony Barlow 32:18

It's that conditioning, right?

Lisa Vu 32:19

Yeah. So I started with how about we don't look at the careers tab or...

Scott Anthony Barlow 32:24

Stay away from careers stab at all costs.

Lisa Vu 32:26

Yeah. And then eventually, when I let myself look at the careers tab again, let's not look for roles that are exactly what you do already, or, you know, let's open or even just opening roles that were completely different than what I was used to, was even that little thing was kind of a big thing for me to just let myself look at something like literally just look at it. I'm not committing to it. You know.

Scott Anthony Barlow 32:57

You know, I will tell you in 10 years, I have never heard anybody talk about that one piece of it the same way that you just did. Like the, we want to change. We recognize that we don't have exposure to other types of roles, jobs, needs, professions, all the things, and yet when we go to a careers page, we will only allow ourselves to look at what we've already done or what we're already familiar with. Isn't that crazy? It happens a lot all the time.

Lisa Vu 33:34

Yeah. Megan even said, "Don't look at research positions", and I did anyways. It was just so... Part of it just to get on my system, like, I have this urge. I just got to do it. So it's just yeah, it's just kind of wild to like, kind of uncover that about me what I'm just so used to leaning towards.

Scott Anthony Barlow 33:56

Yeah. That's fascinating. And great job too, recognizing that. I think Megan had said this, but I'm getting the degree of which your self-awareness extends. And that's pretty cool because you can't really make the type of change that you did without having a prerequisite level of self-awareness. Otherwise, it's really difficult and nearly impossible to be able to do and it's already hard enough with this.

Lisa Vu 34:25

Yeah. Well, that's pretty great to hear. And yeah, I look back and I'm like, "Wow, I'm glad I was able to catch that."

Scott Anthony Barlow 34:34

Tell me a little bit about what was on your ICP that you remember, that you recall, or what are the pieces that you had identified that you wanted that now you feel like you have in your newest role?

Lisa Vu 34:50

I mean, the one that you pulled out as an example about having at least one other person who has at least some shared knowledge of my role that was pretty helpful. Just being in, I don't know how to, I think I put something like people I would want to go to lunch with or something. Which, you know, if you asked me before all this, it would have just sounded like such a small detail. But after being in roles that were just so isolating, it just became a very important thing to me. Yeah, it still feels weird to say out loud. And it's not like my top thing. But it's just something that is important also. Because everything else could be great, but if I'm not interacting with people, and I'm an introvert.

Scott Anthony Barlow 35:43

You and me both.

Lisa Vu 35:46

Like, it just really, yeah, it just really impacted my mental health to not get the interaction, even those little interactions with people. Again, I don't feel like I could be best friends with people at work. And I definitely feel like there has to be... I have my boundaries and stuff. But just having those little interactions, especially if support and things like that, they're very important.

Scott Anthony Barlow 36:10

I think one of the things that stood out to me was, a lot of your strengths feed into collaboration. And I know you've mentioned collaboration a couple of times, but it sounded like that was pretty important. And even though you're an introvert, even though you can do analytical really well, and you can do research really well, being isolated, obviously not a great thing for you, but more so, having the right type of collaboration is amazing for you, that creates a much, much better situation. It sounds like the right people to collaborate with as well, the people that you could do the lunch with.

Lisa Vu 36:46

Yeah, people who care to check in and things like that, which again, it doesn't sound like much, but it's just like when you don't have that it can really impact you.

Scott Anthony Barlow 36:56

Yeah. What else have we not covered here that you would want people to know? Either about your process or about anything else that we haven't covered.

Lisa Vu 37:05

I think we hit a lot of major points. I will say that, and this is what I've been telling people like one of my biggest takeaways of what I learned about myself, and through this process, or what was uncovered, anyways, was that like, I think I became very apathetic in my last job where I was at for seven years. And that was just such a dangerous place to be. And it's just so subtle, too, which makes it really hard. And so I think, once I realized I just was at a point where I just don't care. That just really, or maybe I don't care as much as I want to. It creeps in. And it really impacted my mental health, impacted other parts of my life where, I don't know how to fully explain, but yeah. So I would say, if anyone ever gets to that point, I mean, there's a lot of important things about a job like finances and benefits. Yes, I understand that. But after considering all that, it kind of doesn't matter what other aspects of your job may seem good if you kind of don't care anymore. So I would say at the very least, it's a sign to kind of reflect on that or reflect what might be behind it. So if I were ever feel that again, then I know now it's a sign to look into it more.

Scott Anthony Barlow 38:37

Hey, if you love this story where we talk through and walk you through step by step how someone got to more meaningful work, then you'll absolutely love our audiobook– Happen to Your Career: An Unconventional Approach to Career Change and Meaningful Work. I even got to narrate it, which was so fun. And something that I really enjoyed doing and will definitely do for future books as well. But it also contains firsthand accounts from career changers on how they made the move to more meaningful work, just like we include on the podcast here. And actually, it's been called the best audiobook experience ever by some reviewers. You can find those reviews, and the book itself on Audible, Amazon, or any other place where books are sold. Seriously, just pause this right now and go over to Amazon or Audible or wherever you want and download it. You can be reading it and started on your career change in literally seconds.

Scott Anthony Barlow 39:32

Now, here's a sneak peek into what's coming up next week right here on Happen to Your Career.

Speaker 3 39:37

Do you even want to be at this place? Or is this just a job for you? If it's just a job, that's fine, but you're probably going to want a new one relatively quickly.

Scott Anthony Barlow 39:48

When you're making a career transition, how will you recognize what is actually a great fit for you? We get many questions from Happeners all over the world, which we love, but I've never actually had anyone ask me that question. And in many ways, it is the question. The simple answer is, well, unless you've done some certain work, you probably won't. We've had so many clients that have had the same story over and over again. They take many months to define what they want, they experiment to validate that that's actually what they want in the real world. And then miraculously, it seems to appear out of nowhere. Here's what actually happens. The opportunities were there the whole time. But if you don't know what to look for, the same opportunity that might already be there just passes you by, like, two ships in the night. And you never realized that it was so close to you.

Scott Anthony Barlow 40:46

All that and plenty more next week right here on Happen To Your Career. Make sure that you don't miss it. And if you haven't already, click Subscribe on your podcast player so that you can download this podcast in your sleep, and you get it automatically, even the bonus episodes every single week, sometimes multiple times a week. Until next week. Adios. I'm out.

Ready for Career Happiness?

What Career Fits You?

Finally figure out what you should be doing for work

Join our 8-day “Mini-Course” to figure it out. It’s free!