Ever feel like if you go one more day at your current day job you are going to literally pass out on the floor. Dead. Never to return. Maybe that’s a bit dramatic – but really if that’s how you’re feeling, many people are feeling the same way too. There are a number of reasons for this, many jobs can become very routine and no longer offer exciting opportunities. In addition, despite the emphasis on work-life balance, many people are finding it increasingly hard to balance home responsibilities with those of a high-stress job.

According to an article in the Globe and Mail, despite years of warnings about striking work-life balance, Canadians are in a deeper rut than ever.

Almost two-thirds of us are working more than 45 hours a week – 50-per-cent more than two decades ago. Work weeks are more rigid, with flex-time arrangements dropping by a third in the past 10 years. To top it off, only 23 per cent of working Canadians are highly satisfied with life. That’s half as many as in 1991. These new findings are part of the 2012 National Study on Balancing Work and Caregiving in Canada, a survey of more than 25,000 Canadians from all provinces and two territories. It’s the third such study in two decades by professors Linda Duxbury of Carleton University and Christopher Higgins of the University of Western Ontario.

If you find that for various reasons you’re feeling suffocated. Here are five ways to overcome this situation and turn your life around.

1. Pause and Re-evaluate

This step is necessary for everyone at different intervals throughout a career. If you’re not learning or growing in your current position – chances are its time for change. This does not make you a bad employee or even disloyal to your current company – it just means its time to learn something new. It may entail exploring a new assignment within your current company but in a different role. Many companies who identify high-performing employees realize that they may need stretch projects in different areas of the company to help them grow and learn new skills. Employees who are generally highly creative and innovative wont find much comfort in staying in the same exact position for 20 years. If your current day job is squeezing the very life out of you – to the point where you feel breathless to the point of suffocation – then its time to pause and re-evaluate what is causing that and how you can move forward.

2. Take Stock

Of all your skills, experience and where you want to be. You may realize you want to try a whole new industry or career path. If this is the case the taking stock of all your skills and experience and even reformatting your resume to reflect this will help you make a career map that you can use to move forward. There are always options available. Here are some questions to help you take stock:

What are you good at….

What makes you feel alive….

Would you say you are fulfilled  at work…

The answers to these questions will help guide you on your path forward. Jotting down the answers to these with various career options is an essential step to moving forward.

3. Network, Network, Network

Finding a mentor in your field or another field that you’re interested in – can make a world of difference. You will probably find that many of them faced career cross-roads before and had to make a decision on how to move forward. Networking is an important part of building a solid career path and is essential to success at each stage of your career.

4. Indulge in your hobbies and favorite Activities

You are not your job – or job title for that matter. You are a complex human being who has a whole different life outside of your day job. Indulge in those activities that make you feel alive. Expand your horizons outside work and explore different activities and skills such as learning a new language or joining a toastmasters group or even becoming a mentor to someone else who could benefit from your knowledge and experience.

5. Make an overall plan for your life and stick to it.

Think of the overall lifestyle you want to have and then make a plan to achieve that lifestyle. So if you feel like you would want to retire early one day – start saving early in your 20’s to achieve that. If you would like to be in a flexible job where you can have more time to spend with the family – then explore that option a bit more. Your overall lifestyle goals should determine how, when and where you want your career path to enfold. Have clear goals that are achievable at each stage of your life – and don’t lose sight of it. Organizations change, bosses change, co-workers change – you don’t want to get caught off guard when changes take place.

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