You feel miserable about your job. But, are you over-reacting? Are things really that bad? How do you know when you’re in the wrong job – or even the wrong career — and that it’s time to make a change? Any one of these nine signs is enough to raise a red flag, but multiple signs should sound alarm bells.
1. Your positive, creative energy is blocked.
You feel frustrated and angry that your good ideas are often shut down, ignored, or challenged. This makes your job a setup for failure.
2. There is no career advancement path.
You’re stuck at your current level with no opportunities for growth or advancement.
3. You’ve lost confidence in your professional abilities.
You question your competence because your efforts don’t yield the desired results and are blocked by obstacles beyond your control – a negative manager, uncooperative colleagues, organizational dynamics, etc. Even worse, you might feel guilty for not meeting others’ expectations despite your best efforts.
4. You’re unable to set limits on a demanding work load and long hours.
You’re regularly expected to work well beyond 40 hours a week to “keep up,” but falling further and further behind. The cause may be insufficient staff or budget to get the job done. And, there is no recourse with management.
5. You feel like you can’t take time off work.
Going on vacation or even taking a day off will put you further behind, and you’ll never catch up. You tell yourself it wouldn’t be worth it because you’d pay the price when you get back.
6. You’re depressed and anxious about going to work on Monday morning.
If you’ve managed to relax and forget work over the weekend, a dark cloud emerges on Sunday evening. It can hover over you throughout the week, depending on how bad your situation is.
7. Your health and personal life are suffering.
You lose sleep ruminating over what’s not working for you at work. Maybe you’ve resorted to escape mechanisms like alcohol, drugs, poor food choices, or sedentary activities. Your relationships with family and friends are strained due to lack of time with them, being emotionally unavailable, or even lashing out.
8. You lack energy at work and feel tired all the time.
The combination of the above has left you emotionally and physically drained.
9. Your job does not let you be yourself.
What you do every day does not reflect who you are. You are not internally motivated because your work is misaligned with your values, passions, and innate strengths.
So, Now What?
You feel trapped and hopeless. You don’t see any way out of your current situation. You need your job to meet your financial obligations, and you fear there are no good options out there. So, how do you get unstuck and find your way forward?
Get Honest with Yourself
Assess your situation. Accept your current reality and acknowledge that it’s time to move on. But, you may feel so overwhelmed that you don’t even know where to start, especially if you haven’t searched for a job in years.
Seek Professional Help
A career coach, mentor, or therapist – or some combination of these professionals – can help you see past your current pain and develop a realistic plan to move forward. A key consideration when working with a professional is to explore whether you should make a job change in the same field or undertake a complete career transformation.
Change Jobs in Your Current Field
You may love your field, but hate working for your current employer. So, changing jobs may feel daunting, especially if you haven’t updated your resume and had job interviews in years. A professional can guide you through developing and executing a job search strategy. For example, in addition to helping you update your resume, a career coach can show you how to effectively use LinkedIn to post a powerful profile, conduct research, and request informational interviews that uncover the “hidden” job market. He or she can also assist with other job search tactics, such as demonstrating your expertise through speaking and writing about your field.
Transform Your Career
To determine if you need an entire career transformation, ask yourself if your current field:
- Aligns with your values, passions, and innate strengths (your intrinsic motivators)
- Empowers you
- Fulfills you
- Is your true calling
If not, then your best strategy is to identify a new, meaningful career that reflects who you are. How do you do this?
Collaborate with a professional on the process. Start by clarifying your values, passions, and innate strengths. This provides your foundation to explore career fields that align with you. Give yourself enough time for a thorough exploration. Do online research. Identify prospective fields and reach out to LinkedIn connections and others in your network to request informational interviews. Gather as much information as possible to ultimately identify your vision for a new field – what you want to do. It’s also important to articulate your mission – why you want to embark on this new field. In other words, what’s the purpose behind your career vision?
Guided by your vision and mission, you’re ready to develop and implement a plan to turn your vision into reality. This involves creating a comprehensive job search strategy. Or, if your career vision calls for starting your own business, it’s time to write a business plan. Either way, get input from a professional.
Experience Greater Happiness in Your Work Life
A coach, mentor, or therapist is invaluable in guiding you through the job search or career transformation process. It’s a journey that takes time and work. And, a professional can provide a sounding board for your strategy as well as your mindset, helping you stay on track.
Your time and effort will be more than worth it. Your reward will be greater happiness in your work life.