Dear Metropolis,

Lately, I’ve been feeling stuck in my job—and possibly my career. I work in a decent company and the people around me are, for the most part, good to be around; I’m convivial with most of them. I’m good at what I do, and while my pay isn’t the best, it’s enough to live comfortably. This has always been the case since my first day. But in recent months, I’m finding I enjoy the work considerably less and feel that I exert a whole lot of energy for very little payback. I’m losing motivation by the day. It’s not that I’m unhappy: I have a nice life outside of work and do many things I enjoy regularly. It’s hard to rationalize when talking to friends about this, as they tell me that I should be grateful to even have a job with some form of security, and that I could take up other things on the side or as a hobby to keep me entertained. This makes me feel like I should be ashamed for wanting to quit. But while they mean well, I don’t think they understand. I want to wake up in the morning, wanting to go do whatever job I have, and, at the end of the day, feel great about what I’ve done that day. I’m getting older and don’t want to waste a chunk of my life on something that doesn’t fulfill me. At the same time, I’m frightened of change. What should I do? What support is available for me?

—9 to 5

Dear 9 to 5,

On the Lifeline, we hear from lots of callers who are unhappy in their workplace for numerous reasons. Deciding if you should try to make things work, leave and go elsewhere, or change directions altogether is never easy. It sounds like you’ve tried to fill the void in your life by balancing things with a range of activities outside of work that make you happy.

It also sounds like everyone has an opinion about what you should do. Finding someone who truly listens and understands what you are feeling can be a real challenge. We spend a great deal of our life at work, and it plays an important role in our overall health and happiness. This makes it a topic to look at seriously.

Making a change is never easy. Making the decision to quit your job will stop you from experiencing the work you don’t enjoy, but it will also end any part of your job you may still enjoy. It will also take you out of the workforce before you have a clear idea of what you do want to do. Unless you want to change directions altogether, quitting your job might hinder your search for new work opportunities. Many employers prefer those currently employed, and the stress of looking for a job might lead to even more negativity and financial strain.

Pinpointing what you like and dislike in your current job can be a good starting point. Fulfillment and success mean different things to different people. It may be possible to change roles and responsibilities in your current organization, or they may offer opportunities for training or retraining.

However, if you want to be happy rather than just secure, then a career change might be the option for you. Making a career change is like taking a step into the unknown, but this is also what makes it so exciting—by following your dreams and making strides to work in an industry that you find genuinely stimulating. You may start by brainstorming, making a list about what a “better” or “ideal” job would look like, what factors are important in your next job, what you have enjoyed doing, and what your strengths and talents are.

Then you can look at what steps are needed to get you there, as well as what support you may need along the way, and try making some mock plans. Do you need to keep working while you make this change? Do you need to go back to school? Do you need to change countries to get the qualifications you need? Volunteering is also a great way to learn new skills and a great way to test the waters and new possibilities. TELL provides a number of opportunities—from internships to volunteering on the Lifeline—that have helped people step into the counseling and social work arena, and also event management.

Talking to the Lifeline has helped many callers work through these options. Speaking with a life coach or therapist may also help you get moving. Finding meaning in life is important for your overall well-being, not just a luxury.

Answer courtesy of TELL. If you need to talk, they’re here to listen. Call the TELL Lifeline at 03-5774-0992 from 9am-11pm, 365 days a year. Or visit their website at

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