Sarah Groskreutz always felt that something was missing.
Groskreutz had spent two decades working in higher education, first in student services and then human resources at the University of Minnesota. The benefits were excellent, she was getting promotions, she felt like she was good at what she did and she enjoyed her network of people.
But she felt there was something else out there for her.
“I just got to the point where I said, ‘I’m halfway through my career presumably and I really want to make a shift now before it’s too late or before I feel too stuck,’ ” Groskreutz said.
After years of second-guessing herself, and with the encouragement of a career counselor, Groskreutz left her job last summer and soon plans to open a well-being and health coaching business.
Twin Cities-area career counselors say that many people in different stages of their lives can experience “career angst” and feel unfulfilled with their jobs for a variety of reasons. It could be unresolved conflicts at their places of employment, but people also might need a shift in their jobs.
Maybe they think that their job no longer has meaning to them, or they can’t figure out how to advance in their careers, or perhaps it could stem from incompatibility with a boss or work environment. Freda Marver, a career and executive coach and owner of Begin Again Coaching in St. Louis Park, always asks her clients open-ended questions about their interests and desires before she delves into a more formal career assessment.
“What’s important to you?” she asks clients. “What’s working? What’s not working? When have you heard that little tiny voice inside you that has said, ‘Oooh, this is what I want. This is what I like.’ … The first step is trying to get them to find their true voice and what kind of things appeal to them.”
The challenge is to not let realistic worries such as finances stop you from thinking about what your passions are or whether your values fit with your current employer or field, said Leonard Lang, founder of Beard Avenue — Coaching and Training, a career coaching business in south Minneapolis.
“When you think about how much time we spend at work,” Lang said, “you want to be spending that time in a way that feels fulfilling, meaningful and rewarding and exciting and challenging and all of that good stuff for yourself as well as making a living.”
It doesn’t mean that if you like to ski you have to be a ski instructor, he said. But that love of sport could signify a theme or value. Perhaps you appreciate being outside or in a workplace where there is a lot of interaction with people.
More people are analyzing how to feel fulfilled in their careers. While in past generations staying at one company or in a particular role for decades was the norm, job hopping or working as a freelancer or contractor is now more likely. According to a study released last year by staffing firm Robert Half, 64 percent of professionals who were polled thought changing jobs every few years could be beneficial, a 22-percent increase from a study from four years ago.
“You went from a time period where people would die at the company [they] started at. That was the thing. Get the gold watch,” said Meredith Moore Crosby, a local leadership coach whose book “Getting Unstuck: A Guide to Moving Your Career Forward” was just published in December. “Now the average person is changing jobs every two years.”
Because of that movement, career management that once was planned with a boss now falls on the individual, Moore Crosby said. “Nobody is ever going to care about your career or your life like you are.”
Numerous resources are available, including career coaches.
“When I began coaching, it was executive coaching. It was only available to executives and leaders,” said Cindy Edwards, a local career coach and owner of Find Your Fit. Now, coaches see people of all ages and career levels.
Groskreutz, 44, of Stillwater, said it took her years to decide to start her own business. Groskreutz, who has a degree in biology, said she was flipping through a journal she made years ago and “health coach” was circled as an idea. She began to consult with Lang last spring about her career direction.
“Going into business and becoming an entrepreneur is really a risk and you take that risk all onto your shoulders,” she said. “It was the sense of really wanting to do something that was purposeful and meaningful to others.”
She is currently in the process of earning her health coach certification and yoga teaching certification. She hopes to launch her business Stress-Free Wellbeing in the spring.
Krista Hoeschen, 34, of Minneapolis, had changed jobs several times before she worked with Lang over the summer and started as an executive assistant at the Be The Match Foundation in November.
“I just wanted to work in an environment where I felt like I made a difference. … I needed to figure out a path where I didn’t just have a job, that I was working toward something,” said Hoeschen, who had worked before in sales as a project manager, office manager and executive assistant.
Her new position already feels like a better fit, she said.
While many counselors said their advice could apply to people regardless of experience, they also offered particular tips for those in different age groups.