Jan* was facing a dilemma. She had just turned 40 and had been with her current organization for over five years and was feeling discontented, frustrated, and stressed. At the request of her Vice President, Jan had laterally transferred about a year earlier to take on the challenge of a newly created management role. Though the function she would be managing was not her first choice of next steps, Jan felt that the opportunity would add positively to her resume and she accepted the position. After much hard work, late hours, and tight deadlines, the first major initiative in this role was successfully completed. Awesome, right? Well, though pleased with the results, Jan recognized that she didn’t enjoy the work, dreaded the end of the weekend, and was feeling constant stress.
The company was in the process of several acquisitions. As each one came on board, Jan needed to roll out the same initiative to each acquired company. With each new project, Jan could feel her dissatisfaction growing. She knew she didn’t like her work and the company was having difficulties. Yet, the job paid well, the benefits were good, and it was close to home. Also, she enjoyed the people she worked with. Despite that, Jan struggled each day with whether she should look for a new opportunity or just stick it out.
Maybe this sounds like you. Or, your story of career dissatisfaction may have a different back story but the undeniable bottom line question is still the same – “should I stay or should I go?”
How do you decide whether it’s time for a career change?
5 Sure Signs
- The money and benefits are the primary reason you’re still there.
We all have financial responsibilities and no one is suggesting that money and benefits aren’t important. However, we often talk ourselves into believing that moving into a position that fuels our passion and brings meaning to our lives will automatically pay less than our current role. Additionally, even if it does pay less initially, it’s likely that more money will follow when you are able to bring your best self to work that you love. And, if needed, I’ll bet there are some things you could adjust in your budget to accommodate bringing joy back into your life.
- Your body is feeling the effects.
Even if your mind hasn’t caught up with the notion that you need to pursue something different, your body is likely giving you clues. Are you having trouble sleeping at night? Like Jan, do you experience anxiety as Sunday night approaches and you’re dreading the start of a new week? Have you noticed a significant gain or loss in your weight for no apparent reason? Do you find yourself feeling ill more frequently? Are you experiencing a constant feeling of stress or exhaustion? While there may be other reasons for these symptoms and seeing your doctor is highly recommended, many have to look no further than their job to find the source of their discomfort.
- Something just feels like it’s missing.
Often, we fail to recognize that aligning our needs and values with our career is critical to a feeling of well-being. As we progress in our careers, it’s important to check in periodically and reflect on what’s most important to us. While many of our needs and values remain constant, some may evolve and shift as we move through various stages in our lives. What adjustments to your role, manager or environment might be able to be made to shift you back into alignment again? If this isn’t possible, it’s time to find a career or role that fits with who you are today.
- You’re constantly complaining about your job.
We all have bad days even in the best of jobs. Yet, if you notice that your primary topic of conversation with your family and friends tends to be complaints about your work, it’s time to pay attention. What were you like when you were in a position that you really enjoyed? What would it take to reignite that part of you again? Who is the person you’d like to be?
- You’ve lost your energy and drive.
If you find, that once in a great while, you experience moments of feeling a little bored or not overly excited about your work, that’s completely natural. Over time, there are very few jobs that keep you excited and energized every moment. If, on the other hand, you notice that you’re finding it difficult to get motivated about most anything, it may be time for a change. Find a place where you can use your strengths each day; where you are energized and inspired by the work and the people around you.
Your Call to Action
While there are certainly other signs that a career change might be in order, these are the ones that I’ve seen most frequently with clients. What are you willing to do to create the career you want? If you recognize any of the 5 signs in yourself, I invite you to step back and do some self-reflection. Discover where your passions lie, set a new direction, and take action toward a happier and more fulfilling career. If you want a thought partner to help you find your new direction, please reach out.
*Name and details changed to protect confidentiality.
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