Handling Career Confusion in NYC

New York City has a reputation for being fast-paced and ultra-competitive. Both of those things are factors that can lead to a more stressed-out populace. The good news is that New York City is not, in fact, the most stressful city in America. That distinction actually goes to Washington D.C. But NYC is second on the list, just ahead of Miami and San Francisco. The reasons are familiar to any person who lives in one of the five boroughs: long commute times, crowded places, and a high cost of rent.

If there’s one thing that can make all of that worse, it’s having an uncertain or frustrating career path in the Big Apple. Here are some ways to deal with career confusion in NYC.

Identify the problem

There’s a saying that it’s easier to find a job when you already have one. Similarly, the stress that comes with having a job is often (but not always) easier to handle mentally than the stress that comes with not having a job. People with jobs feel like productive members of society, and the paycheck they’re taking home means that they can afford life’s necessities and creature comforts. However, if you have a job at all, you may feel ungrateful and guilty for wishing your work life was different.

But now is the ideal time to stop wishing and start doing something about your work-related unhappiness. Zero in on what is getting you down about your job. If it’s your boss, then you can’t just sit at your cubicle and pray for the day he quits or retires. Maybe a transfer to another office is possible. If not, then a vacation could be just the thing. Getting away from a bad boss for a week or two can remind you that there is more to life than a rough workplace situation. Take advantage of your time off, and then start looking for a new job the minute you get back into town.

Of course, it’s easy to suggest taking a vacation, but not everyone in America has paid time off. Additionally, the culture at many offices or jobs can be notoriously anti-vacation. If that happens, your options are more narrow, but they do still exist. You’re not trapped at a job you don’t like. Start your job search earlier. Don’t try to wait it out if you know things won’t get better. And while it’s not the same as a paid vacation, taking a mental health day can still be  better than nothing.

Get expert help

New York City has a lot of people — and a lot of late subway trains, but it also has something else: a lot of career counseling choices. Finding career counseling in NYC is a lot easier than finding it in a small town in the Midwest.

If you’ve never been to a career counselor, you may not be sure what to expect. You might be afraid that they’ll judge the choices you’ve made up until now. However, a good career counselor will do anything but that. They can talk to you about what makes you happy at both work and home.

Not every career has to be a passion project, and if yours isn’t, your counselor will talk to you about how to feel OK with that. Some people need to feel creatively fulfilled at work. Others just want to clock in, do a good job, and then clock out. There’s nothing wrong with either approach, but you have to find out what works for your specific circumstances. Don’t believe you have to quit your job right away, either. A good career counselor will work with you to create a plan for changing careers if that’s what you need. But they’re probably not going to suggest you go into work the next day and quit on the spot. They could, however, suggest you come up with a timeline for leaving your position. Even small steps are still progress.


Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.