Do you feel like your current career is draining you (and not in a good way) but you can’t figure out whether it’s a sign that it’s time to look for a new job or role?
In my recent post on Lifestyle Design, I talked about five signs that you might benefit from Lifestyle Design. But they also apply in figuring out if it’s time to make some adjustments in your current career or abandon it altogether for something completly new .
- Do you feel a wave of dread or anxiety every Sunday about the coming week, even if you have no pressing deadlines?
- Does this ever make you feel like you can’t truly enjoy your free time? You waste a lot of your free time because you always feel mentally or physically drained, which causes you to have a hard time focusing on work tasks or otherwise.
- You frequently procrastinate your work, wasting time and making you less productive overall.
- You feel guilty for doing so because you know you’re capable of so much more but you just can’t stop.
- You always look forward to the next weekend, and ultimately your next vacation.
- You don’t look forward to waking up to go to/start work.
- You consciously know you’re not working in a job or industry that you want to be in long term, but you don’t know what else you’d do or you’re scared to try.
These are all signs that you’re not satisfied with some aspect of work. But they don’t necessarily mean you’re not satisfied with your job overall (with the exception of the last bullet point).
How to know the difference?
There are 4 questions you can ask yourself to help you determine if there are improvements you can make in your current job and role BEFORE you decide it’s time for a career switch. Sometimes, there are many things well within your power that might make a world of a difference in your happiness and overall drive at work.
1. Are you learning?
Your job doesn’t have to be perfect. Especially if you’re like me and are either fresh out of college or only a few years into your career. But really this holds true at any age.
BUT there should be a few non-negotiables. One of those, should be learning.
In your 20s, you should be looking to learn as much as possible. So the first question to reflect hard on is, am I learning?
If you’re not learning anything, work can feel like a drag. It can be exhausting sitting for 8 or 9 hours a day doing work that drains the life and excitement out of you.
2) If yes, is what you’re learning something that you’re excited to learn about?
Equally as exhausting, and often more discouraging, is forcing yourself to learn something that absolutely does not excite you or interest you at all. Why suffer through a few years of learning something when you really don’t see a future for yourself in that area?
There’s a saying in Spanish that always reminds me of this scenario.
If you’re excited to learn something, then when work gets challenging (which it undoubtedly will), it will drain you in a good way. You’ll be exhausted at the end of the day, but it will still keep you excited and inspired through adversity, rather than cause you to feel frustrated or empty.
This is so so important, and a mistake that I personally have made. I chose to put an emphasis on learning anything I could (there is value in this as well — especially if you are still learning what you like), simply because of an opportunity offered to me.
But it took me far too long to realize that I was draining myself and in the process causing myself to dislike a job that otherwise had so much going for it.
The second I admitted to myself what I was doing and communicated what I wanted to my managers, a huge weight was lifted off my dissatisfaction with work.
3. Do you have supportive co-workers and management?
You NEED to feel comfortable with and empowered by the people you work with. You’ll spend so many hours of your day, week, and overall life working with them.
Do they respect you?
Do they challenge you to grow?
Are they reasonable people who are generally pleasant to be around (whether virtually or in person)?
If the answer is no, you should look to find someone you trust and can speak to about it outside your current team. If that’s not possible, it might be time to explore other career options.
4. Are there aspects of your job you can change if you communicate effectively? Is this type of communication well received where you work?
In line with #2, one big mistake that a lot of people make (myself included) is to allow your career to be guided for you.
It starts off with you accepting a role you’re excited about, and then somewhere along the way, some of your daily responsibilities might shift based off business needs, changes in your team, or whatever it might be.
You could find yourself in a place where you’re no longer enjoying your role. Before you decide to make a clean break and explore another career option, assess the situation and decide if you can communicate to your boss that you’re unhappy with certain aspects of your job and would like to propose a change.
If your boss is not approachable, this becomes difficult to do and becomes a contributing factor in deciding to look for a career switch.
But a lot of times, the door is open for these types of conversations. We just might not always see it that way out of fear or discomfort about initiating these conversations.
If you’ve answered all four questions above as truthfully as you can, and made any necessary attempts to communicate aspects of your job that you dislike, and you STILL are unhappy, then it might be time for a career re-design.
It could be that the people you work with make it impossible to communicate a desire for any changes in your work life.
Or it could be quite simply that you’re in the wrong industry.
If you’ve assessed what makes you unhappy, taken steps to improve it, and are still struggling, the type of work might not be for you and that’s completely okay. You don’t need to succumb to unhappiness to make a living.
But before you look to jump ship, you should make sure you’ve done everything in your power to improve your current situation.