Retirement benefits are a welcomed amenity offered by many employers. It is a win/win situation if you enjoy your work and can imagine yourself comfortably remaining with the organization until you are adequately vested.
However, if your job is not working out and the pension or retirement plan becomes the only reason keeping you in your job, then you’ve lost some control of your work life.
You might think that your options are black or white: either you remain with the job and put up with your dissatisfaction for the time it takes to receive the benefit, or you forfeit the benefit and find work that is a better fit. Because neither option seems satisfactory, you could end up feeling stuck and frustrated. You might begin to experience a loss of interest in your job, notice a decline in your performance or even feel depressed.
If you find yourself in this situation, here are five steps that could change this course:
- Get the facts and numbers straight. Meet with human resources to clarify “what, when and how much” regarding your particular benefit package. Explore the option of an early retirement incentive package or a partial phased retirement program.
- Recognize that you have options beyond the two most obvious. Perhaps there is another position within your organization or another way to define your job that would better suit you and your needs. Before investigating this idea, take some time to identify specifically what is wrong with your current job as well as what you want at this time in your life. Perhaps the question: “Under what conditions would this job be acceptable?” might provide insight into a new direction or a conversation you might have with the person to whom you report.
- Shift your attention from work toward other important aspects of your life. See what happens when you develop a new or existing interest, attend to lapsed friendships, commit to community service, or take time for yourself and your well being through a class or organized activity. Being too focused on where you are stuck will not bring about the change you desire. Perhaps by giving yourself a break from this dilemma and diverting your attention to nurturing activities, you will open up to new ideas and options.
- Update and refine your résumé. Even if you don’t apply for another job, the process of identifying and summarizing what you’ve been doing can have a positive impact on how you regard your work and your capabilities and can lift your mood and spirit.
- Explore the marketplace. This does not require a decision to quit your existing job. An effective way to regain a sense of control is to realize that you could land another job that might be worth the change. With this knowledge, you’ll be back in the driver’s seat of your work life and thinking about your options rather than feeling that you have none.