Tell me if any of this sounds familiar:
You pursued the college major that seemed like the “safe” option.
A stable job in a growing field.
And now you’re realizing how much you hate it? How draining it is? How undervalued you are?
Do you catch yourself regretting your career choice? Wondering what would have happened if you had pursued what you really wanted to study?
Or maybe you pursued exactly what you wanted, only to enter the field and find out it’s a terrible fit for you?
Let me tell you something: I was in a similar situation.
In a way, I still am.
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) was the safer option compared to what I really wanted: forensic psychology. ABA was a growing field with plenty of work opportunities working with young children, while forensic psychology would have lil’ old 5’1″, 100 lb me working in courtrooms and prisons.
But now, after working in ABA only a handful of years, I feel stuck. It’s a path that definitely led to many job opportunities, but not a career. Even though it’s a respectable field helping those with special needs, it led more to burnout and resentment than an actual sense of accomplishment.
So what should you do when you’re feeling stuck in a field you hate?
One option in this situation is pivoting from your current job into something more desirable. Consider possible options one step out from what you do, like teaching. Chances are this will require developing some new skills, but luckily there are fantastic opportunities online for adult learning.
Online courses at sites like Skillshare and Udemy are great places to learn new skills. In these marketplaces, people with a unique skill in the online community will create a course, publish it, and sell it for a (usually) fair price.
If you want something more standardized, EdX and Coursera offer courses taught by university lecturers from around the world. These can even lead to micromasters or other certifications, which you can then leverage for a raise at your current job — or a pivot into a new field.
If you’re loyal to a specific university, you can always stick with the open courses from certain schools. Yale Open Courses and Harvard Open Courses are great options, though you might be more limited in your options if you choose to stick to a single program.
Make it Your Own
But what if you don’t necessarily want to pivot into a new field? Personally, I didn’t want to shift to do this. I felt like shifting away would mean that the years spent on ABA (and the degree associated with it) would be wasted.
So what did I do?
I decided to leverage behavior analysis with the job I had been enjoying and taking for granted for over a decade: my steady and enjoyable tutoring side hustle.
I wanted to apply the science and techniques of behavior analysis to the daily lives of school-aged children, rather than the special needs community I had been serving. From helping them develop the motivation to complete their homework, to fine-tuning their study skills, I could use my skills in behavior analysis to help my students in new and effective ways.
And even going beyond the students’ learning techniques, I realized I could take all the behavior analysis I know and develop a product that parents could use to aid in shaping their children’s behavior.
A live online bootcamp?
There are so many possibilities, all I had to do was pick one and run with it.
These are all targeting a brand new field: the cross section of behavior analysis and mainstream education. Typically, ABA is applied to learning within the special needs community, but this was new.
Now, this isn’t to say that I’ve moved on and made Tutor in Tinseltown my full-time job. I still have my day job in behavior analysis.
But you know what?
It isn’t quite so draining anymore. Just knowing that I have a side project I’m working on to better my situation has been enough to lift me up and renew my energy.
So every day I’m able to, I sit down and work on my products for sale.
Or write a post or two for my blog to get my name out there.
I still tutor 3 days per week, and love watching all my munchkins learn and enjoy learning.
So what’s your next step?
Whether you choose to pivot to a similar field, leverage your current job and expertise to create something new that you love, or gain new skills and request a raise at your current job, don’t feel like you’re stuck in the situation you hate forever.
There are so many options for you to improve yourself — you just have to take some time to truly think about what you want, and how you can work towards getting there in your own life.
So, what do you think?
Are you planning a request for a raise, a pivot, or are you creating something new?