In this day and age, it is far more common and acceptable for us to change jobs, even change industry or our career path.
The professional landscape is shifting and as individuals and organisations we are forever being challenged to keep up and matchup.
With the internet and technology as enablers and the career possibilities seemingly endless for those of any age and any stage, this makes for exciting but potentially overwhelming times.
But just because we can do something it doesn’t necessarily mean we should. So how can we determine whether our next career move should be on the horizon? Here are 5 signs it’s probably time…
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- Motivation is at an all-time low
Are you living for the weekend and filled with dread on a Sunday knowing that Monday is looming? Are you struggling to muster the energy to get out of bed in the morning to go to work? Have you noticed that you’re starting to let things slip because you’re feeling bored, disenchanted or undervalued? The bottom line is most of us spend the majority of our time at work, so the motivation needs to be there otherwise what’s the point?
But it’s important to decipher here whether it’s the job that needs a shake up or you. If you’re burning the candle at both ends and are perhaps having one too many cocktails on a school night– I’m pretty sure not many of us feel like we’re winning at life on a hangover! Or, if you’re burnt out because you aren’t looking after yourself properly in other ways and could really do with a holiday, it’s not necessarily the job that’s at the core of the problem.
Motivation comes from within and it’s our own responsibility to cultivate it. Sure you can hope that exciting projects or opportunities keep coming your way or look to your boss, personal development gurus or business leaders for doses of inspiration and aspiration; but the most powerful thing that you can do is to start paying attention to what makes you tick – what lights your fire, what you are passionate about, where you derive your sense of purpose from and to figure out why you do what you do. For example, to make a difference, to support your family, fund your love of travel or to buy yourself nice new shiny things…
When you know these things, you can start to steer your career and life accordingly, to set yourself up for success and continue to set yourself rewarding goals that you’re excited and driven to make happen.
- Not feeling like the best version of you
So there’s lots of factors that could contribute to this one but let’s focus on you at work. Are you aware that work is the trigger or cause of your stress or anxiety? Are you constantly feeling exhausted and low on energy? Are your ridiculous workload, unrealistic deadlines or pressures causing you to neglect your own needs and well-being? Have you found yourself putting the gym on the backburner and reaching for that evening glass of wine instead to relax after work? Do you feel like the company or your boss don’t take you or your well-being seriously?
There’s nothing more important than our health, well-being and happiness so if you feel this is being compromised then an intervention is required immediately – not after the next big deadline or at the end of a busy quarter – now.
Again, no one can take responsibility and ownership of our well-being other than ourselves so it’s important to recognise whether the company is actually placing unrealistic expectations on you, whether they realise it or need to be made aware, or actually whether it’s coming from you or external factors like personal relationships.
Start to pay attention to your patterns and behaviours and then create some boundaries and positive habits that protect and enhance your well-being; for example, practising meditation before work, diarising your work/meetings and making an effort to leave on time. If it’s the company that’s not respecting your boundaries, then perhaps it’s time to move on and find somewhere that does. More and more companies are starting to place value on work-life balance and employee well-being but for many it’s just buzz words and in actuality the existing systems, practices, attitudes or expectations don’t really support the “vision”. But these companies need to step up and if they’re not prepared to do so and look after their employees then they’re not worth working for.
- Not fulfilling your potential
Do you know that you’re capable of more than you are currently achieving or how you’re performing? Are you feeling under-utilised, held back and frustrated in your current role? Does your boss regularly reschedule or just skip your one to one’s at work?Or do you feel that little care or attention is given to your skills development, career progression and future at the company?
If you answered yes to one or many of the above, then it’s definitely time for some action.
Whilst it would be nice if you’re boss gave you the love you deserve in this department – as great managers and leaders should, it’s not something you can rely on. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt is that fulfilling your potential requires taking ownership and making things happen for yourself. If you want that promotion then you can’t just expect someone to notice you because you do a good job and show up on time, you need to be strategic – go the extra mile, be aware of your perceived weaknesses and work on them whilst playing to your strengths, put your hand up to do something outside of your everyday remit, start doing the job before you’ve been given the title, give the right people a reason to pay attention to you. You get the gist.
If you can honestly say that you have taken responsibility for your own development, that you’ve taken the initiative, spoken to your boss and let it be known that you’re looking to develop and grow and need some support, that you’ve joined that course, shadowed a colleague that you admire, asked for a mentor or coach – basically that you’ve exhausted all opportunity then perhaps it is a sign that you’ve outgrown where you are or that the lack of company investment in you isn’t worth your frustration or blood, sweat and tears.
If the progression that is available isn’t appealing then you probably need to ask yourself if you’re in the right place, profession or industry. Of course, there could be an absence of inspirational role models which makes the climb to the top less appealing but in my experience that was a driver to be one.
Either way, if not fulfilling your potential is your pain point then you need to take action and either step up or move on.
- Company culture and values don’t align with yours
This is a biggie and something that is hugely underestimated. Are you ever left feeling uncomfortable by the conversations, conduct or politics in your office? Do you feel that your work is missing the human element, you know where people are treated like people not just numbers or units of productivity? Do you struggle more with relationships here than you have ever done before and it’s causing you to lose confidence and question yourself? Or do you feel that you just don’t fit in?
Again, if you answered yes to one or more, then alarm bells should be ringing.
Our values are the things that we deem most important to us, they are the foundations upon which we should build our lives and are a bit like our moral compass if you like. So, if something goes against them, for example, say honesty or integrity make up your core values and your company doesn’t operate in that manner, chances are you won’t be very happy there.
Cultures vary incredibly from organisation to teams even, so don’t feel defeated if an organisation doesn’t feel right for you but also don’t be afraid to explore your options internally or elsewhere including different roles. Allow yourself some time to think about what kind of work and environment you’re best suited to and enjoy e.g. fast or slow paced, relaxed or corporate, 9-5, work from home or work all night long! We all have different preferences, personalities, beliefs and values that can determine where we feel happiest.
- Not doing what you love
Ultimately, if you’re not doing what you love then why are you there? OK, I get to pay the bills but if that’s your best answer then I beg you to reconsider your current career choice! I’m sure you can agree that life is just too short to waste time on things that don’t bring you joy, meaning, satisfaction or purpose so if that’s the case then it’s definitely time to move on.
Not sure what else you’d rather be doing? Take some time out to reflect on what you’re passionate about, where your skills and strengths lie, what you’d like to learn and what your alternatives are. You may not have the answers right away and your next job may not be the dream one – Rome wasn’t in built in a day right but boy, will it be worth it when you are doing what you love, tapping into your power and achieving your potential.
Side note, working with a coach can be can be an incredibly enlightening and empowering process that will enable you to gain greater self-awareness, clarity, focus, and to create a vision, roadmap and action plan for your dream career and life so that you can make those things become a reality. Yes, that was a shameless plug but it’s true! If you’re feeling completely stuck then it makes sense to get professional support to help you move forward, onwards and upwards. After all, some of the most successful people in the world work with coaches, Oprah and Leonardo DiCaprio to name but a couple.
By Mikaela Jackson
Mikaela Jackson is a personal performance coach and the founder of She Almighty which provides career, business, life coaching services and events for women.
You can read more about Mikaela, her one to one programmes and events at www.shealmighty.com