Hallie Crawford: How do you know when it’s time to go?
By Hallie Crawford, January 4, 2013
Deciding when to make a career change
We all have our ups and downs at work—good days and bad days, tough periods when we’re just not happy. But how do you know when it’s a chronic problem that needs major adjustment? How do you know when it’s time to move on versus a rough time that you can work through? It’s important to know the difference because career transition is a big deal. It takes time and effort and a certain amount of risk, so it’s critical to understand whether you really need to change jobs or industries, or if you are just going through a tough time that you need to—and can—work through.
For me, I knew it was time to go when I found myself crying in the bathroom at work. Yes, this is a little embarrassing to admit, but it’s true. And I have spoken to many people who have experienced similar frustration and stress at their job.
Work is a huge part of our lives. We spend a lot of our time there so it’s important that we’re fulfilled, not burned out, unhappy and continuously frustrated. A certain amount of stress and frustration is normal—work is work, it’s not always perfect—but if you don’t get fulfillment from your career, eventually you will get burned out. It’s MUCH better to think about changing careers before you hit that wall and become so frustrated that you’re ready to walk out the door.
So how do you know if it’s really time to make a change?
Here are 7 things to consider:
- Do you dread getting out of bed and going to work every morning? Do you repeatedly hit the snooze button? A red flag of job dissatisfaction is an unwillingness to face the day—not just some mornings, most mornings.
- Does your work environment fit your personality type? Are you an outdoorsy person who is driven crazy by being tied to a cubicle during the week? That work environment may not be a good fit for you. You may need something where you can be out of the office more frequently. Think about what your ideal work environment is, and check to see how far off the mark you are currently.
- Are you happy with your compensation at work? If you feel undervalued, you are less likely to find fulfillment. Compensation is an important component that you should consider. Remember, compensation includes things beyond salary like benefits, vacation time and a retirement account.
- How motivated are you at work? Do you want to put effort into your tasks and perform well? If you find yourself avoiding particular people and duties, getting poor reviews or really dreading company outings, chances are you’ve lost that loving feeling for your job.
- Does your job fully utilize your talents and skills? If your job is not utilizing your natural talents and abilities, it’s probably not a fit for you.
- Is your job challenging? Most people require their jobs to challenge them to find fulfillment and not get burned out.
- Do you find yourself spending a lot of time complaining about work, more than anything else? We all tend to commiserate over frustrating aspects of our jobs and lives. But if most of your hours at work, or outside of work, are spent feeding negative thoughts and talking about how unhappy you are, it is probably time to make a change.
Take some time to really analyze and think about your answers to the above. Write them down.
Then ask yourself, “What would the ideal day at work be?” Take a few minutes and write down anything that comes to mind. Now look at the differences between your answers to this and the questions above. What elements are not in your job today? And are there enough of them to make you consider changing your career direction?
Use this exercise to find clues to what might bring you fulfillment and happiness in your career as well. The sooner you start focusing on what you want—instead of what you have if you’re unhappy—the better! The New Year is a great time to start making a change.