Here's 7 dead giveaways it's time to change jobs… is this you?
- You regularly feel genuinely sick, sad, worried or negative on Sunday night, in anticipation of having to go to work on Monday morning
- You’ve literally started taking fake sick days because you can’t face your job or workplace
- You’re complaining to your family/friends on a regular basis about your work, your workplace, your boss and/or your work colleagues
- Lunchtime feels like you just got the “Get Out of Jail Free” card in Monopoly, and you relish every minute of lunchtime freedom like it’s oxygen you’ve been deprived of all morning.
- You’d rather poke yourself in the eye with a sharp stick than do your job another day
- Your physical or mental health is suffering because of the work you do, how you do it, or how you feel about it.
- At the end of a work week, there’s nothing you feel proud of, satisfied about or excited to continue with.
The Unaware Frog
When you put a frog directly into boiling water, I'm told it jumps straight out.
When you put a frog in cold water and slowly bring it to the boil, the frog apparently gets used to the increasing discomfort and stays put, completely unaware of what fate it has succumbed to. Sadly, thus, the frog slowly boils and dies. Please note – No frogs were harmed in the writing of this blog. Simmering away in frustration in your job is a lot like being the unaware frog.
However, before we talk more about the frog…
Helping Your Career
After 7 years working in the recruitment industry, I’ve helped literally thousands of people in their career journey to find and secure fulfilling work so they can be who they are and do what they love. I’ve seen and heard everything there is to see and hear about:
- what makes people unhappy at work
- what makes people thrive at work
- what makes an awesome workplace
- what makes a workplace suck the big kahuna
- what it takes to create change in your career
- what makes someone stand out as a star when they go for the job of their dreams, and
- what leaves people stuck in the mud.
So rather than keep all that juicy info and industry know how to myself, I thought I’d hook you up with the things you really need to know in order to shift your career up a notch! There’s way too much to say in this one blog, so this is just the first in a series of fun, tip-based blogs that I’ll share to help you transform your experience of work and present yourself to the world as the STAR THAT YOU ARE!
The “Wake Up Moment”
This blog is all about experiencing the “wake up” moment when you realize that it’s time to make a change in your career, and more importantly, what to do when that moment comes. If you’re currently happily settled in your work, loving what you do and doing it well (BOOYAH!), then I invite you to continue reading anyway in case you know someone in your circle who might benefit from a little support around making a shift in their own work life.
Are You the Frog?
Now back to the boiling frog analogy, I’d like you to pretend that you are the frog, the water is your job and the pot is your workplace.
If I picked you up and put you in the middle of a pot of boiling water, you’d be scalded, in pain, mortified at the experience and like any frog in their right mind, you’d jump right out of that pot of misery and go on to find a happier one.
Most people placed straight into a negative new work environment, having to do a job they don’t enjoy, would probably also react quite promptly in acknowledging their unhappiness and doing something quick smart to rectify the situation. However, that isn’t how job unhappiness most often comes to pass. Rather, it often comes on slowly, unexpectedly creeping up. It’s what I call “the slow boil”.
The Slow Boil
While many of us are fortunate enough to have jobs, careers and workplaces that we love and thrive in over time, this is not the case for everyone. One of two things happen when we enter a new job. Over time, we either:
- thrive and expand ourselves – as our values, passion and personality fit with our surrounding environment and activities (win win); or
- slowly die from the inside out just like the frog – as time passes we no longer love what we do, and/or no longer fit in the environment we find ourselves in (bad bad). The scary thing is that the unhappiness becomes our norm, like a strange comfort zone of unhappiness which we know how to operate within, and we become used to this workplace numbness.
Work is an Exchange of Energy
If you’re in a job or work environment that you don’t love, you may be exerting energy worrying about whether it’s a “good look” to move on. I’ve heard this many times, as people worry about what others will think. For example:
- How will it look on my resume?
- I’ve only been here XYZ amount of time.
- I should get over it, it’s just work.
- I can’t leave and do that to my boss/employer/workmates.
Word to the wise…
Jobs are not a lifetime commitment. They are an exchange of energy, and an opportunity to give your passion and gifts into the world.
What do we mean by exchange of energy?
Well, at the core of it, you are selling your time and abilities. You give passionately of yourself, your personality, talents, capabilities, creative inspiration and your time, and in return your workplace offers you benefits (monetary and non-monetary), including an environment conducive to your flourishing.
When Win Win Turns to Bad Bad
Now, for as long as that exchange of energy benefits both parties, the relationship is a happy one. This is what we call win win, when you are being who you are and doing what you love, and you are rewarded according to the agreement you’ve made with the other party. The other party (your employer) also benefits, because of the great outcomes you’re achieving for them when you’re rocking and rolling in your work.
When that exchange of energy is no longer win win, then change is not only inevitable, it is absolutely necessary.
When the win win turns to bad bad, something’s gotta give! One day wasted being sad, muted, numb, unexpressed, dissatisfied and robotic in your work life, is one day too many.
Deciding it’s time to leave your job is a little like deciding it’s time to leave a relationship. You realize one of two things:
- It’s not them, it’s me
- It’s not me, it’s them
The “It’s not them, it’s me” scenario is when you wake up one day and realize you don’t love what you do anymore, and you’re not sure when or how it happened. Your workplace may be great, your boss might be heaven sent, you love your workmates like friends, but the work just doesn’t light your fire anymore.
The “It’s not me, it’s them” scenario is when you realize with great sadness that while you might in fact love (or even enjoy just a little) what you do, you simply can’t operate in the work environment you’re in. Your job may be interesting, rewarding and challenging, but your workplace might be negative, or even toxic, and/or the people you are surrounded with don’t align with your values.
While the two scenarios are very different triggers for a job change, they are both equally as valid. I’ve been in both situations at different points in my career and neither one is pleasant. It takes guts, courage, self-belief and self-respect to shift yourself forward.
Trying to Convince Yourself
If you’re currently in either one of these scenarios, and you’re already saying “But…”
Well, I’m already one step ahead of you, because I’ve been there, and I’ve coached other people who have been there, so I’m used to hearing all the buts that often come up!
Here are just a few of the buts you might be thinking:
- “But, despite the sucky work environment, I enjoy this job and I won’t find one as good anywhere else”
- “But, I love these people and this workplace and being happy in my actual job is not as important as being in a great environment”
- “But, it’s better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”
- “But, what if I regret moving and it’s worse somewhere else?”
- “But, the money is great and being happy in my work and workplace is overrated”
Now, I’m going to hazard a guess that because you’re still reading this blog over 1000 words into it, you’re considering that perhaps it might be time for you to change your job. And I’m not going to give up on you if you’re getting stopped by your own buts. If you’re not being who you are and doing what you love, then I’m going to support you to adjust that situation.
Anyone who deep down wants career change, and is coming up with “But…” excuses and “What if…” fear statements, is really just calling out for someone to either give them a gentle push or a valid reason to take the necessary action to make change happen.
So, here are my responses to the aforementioned buts:
- There are great jobs in great work environments, you just have to believe it to be possible and take one action today to start the ball rolling.
- Being happy in your work, which you do for a significant proportion of your waking hours, is actually very important for your emotional and physical wellbeing.
- It’s better that you know no devils, than wager bets about which devil is best to know.
- What if you stay put and spend the rest of your working days playing the “what if” game, when you could have stepped out and created the type of career you really wanted, doing what you love, in an environment that supports you to be who you are.
- Money does not make the world go around, and happiness and financial abundance are not mutually exclusive so choose today as the day you’ll stop making your career success and happiness dependent on money.
Some people might say, “It’s unreasonable to expect to have a job that you really love, work is just something you have to do to make money”.
Some people might say, “It’s unreasonable to expect to work in a healthy and happy work environment, where you’re supported and people are genuinely nice. That’s just being idealistic”.
It’s flat out not unreasonable! What a miserable world we’ve collectively created together if that attitude even has air space in this day and age.
Yes, you can do what you love, and yes, you can work in a healthy and happy work environment. I’ve experienced it and it’s freaking awesome. So stop selling yourself short and pretending it’s not possible or that for some reason it’s not going happen for you. You are just as amazing, talented, capable, and special as the next person in the workplace.
Why shouldn’t you be happy in your work and your surrounding environment?
If you choose to settle for less, then that is a choice you make, and that choice is based on your own perspective of what is possible in this world.
My advice on that point is – your thoughts create your reality. Shift your thoughts and your reality will shift. Then your unreasonable expectations, become reasonable expectations, and reasonable expectations become reality, and the reality will be that you do what you love in a work environment you enjoy.
Give Yourself the Advice You’d Give A Friend
For the love of all things, if you are the boiled frog who can’t take any more of numbing job-based misery, then please help yourself and take one action today that will help move you towards a fulfilling job in a supportive workplace.
But don’t just take my word for it. This is your life. You are the one walking in your shoes. I don’t know you like you know yourself. You and you alone are responsible for your decisions and your actions.
So, let’s turn this around and ask… what if a friend came to you and said they no longer enjoyed their work, they felt unexpressed, uninspired, sad, bored, frustrated or simply like their environment no longer fit with who they know themselves to be. What would you say to them?
You might say something like:
- Start looking for new job opportunities
- Respect yourself enough to want better for yourself
- You’re amazing, and the world is your oyster
- There’s nothing stopping you from changing your situation, all you have to do is take action
Be really honest about what advice you’d give a friend in your situation, and then take your own advice.
Switch it Up?
Let’s look now at practical tips on what to do when the “wake up moment” occurs, when you know for sure the status quo in your job can continue no longer. After all, work happiness waits for no man (or woman) so get your roller skates on and create that happiness today!
The first option might be to actually have a conversation with your boss about how to improve your current situation.
For example, if you’re bored and under-utilized, a conversation to express this and look at ways to introduce greater challenge and extension of your abilities in your current job could prove to be a perfect solution. Alternatively, if you love your workplace but not your job, you might ask your employer about opportunities to move jobs within the organisation. In short, the immediate answer might not be to leave, but instead to switch up the current situation.
However, you might have already tried this approach and it didn’t lead to Joy-ville, or you’re simply not at all interested in staying in the same organisation so a broader job or different job there would not put an end to the fake sick days and eye poking. Thus, we move to the second option… “Operation Get Yourself A Fab New Job”.
7 No-obligation Actions
By now you have read over 1700 words so I am going to take that as a signal that you’re genuinely considering a shift in your job, or that someone you care about might be ready for a change of job. Either way, let’s work together to get this party started… it’s time to take action!
So that the “I don’t know where to start” excuse can be eliminated as a roadblock, I’ve compiled 7 actions that can be taken right now to get you started on the road to workplace joy! Please note that none of these actions suggest that you leave your job now, nor do they suggest that you leave your job before you have a new one to go to. They don’t require anything of you, other than your passion and your time. They are all actions designed to allow your status quo to continue, while taking positive and powerfully aligned action to shift your career forward. These are ‘no excuses’ actions:
- Get clear on who you are and what you offer – Update your resume (or create one if you don’t have one). Brainstorm all the tasks you do in your current job day to day, what you’ve achieved with specific accomplishments, ad-hoc projects you’ve been involved in, what capabilities you’ve developed, what responsibilities you’ve been given.
- Get clear on what you love to do – Make a list of the types of jobs you are interested in, including specific types of tasks, projects and/or responsibilities you would most like to be involved with
- Get clear on what’s important to you – Make a list of the work environment factors that are most important to you (e.g. culture, management style, physical environment, hours, location)
- Get online – Register online with job advertising sites to receive job alerts by email and/or ensure you are picking up the latest print job advertisements (e.g. newspaper job sections, industry publications that list vacancies)
- Ask the experts – If appropriate, you might consider contacting recruitment agencies that work in the industry/field you wish to work in. They are a wealth of knowledge about opportunities, types of jobs, market pay rates, and most will give free advice on how to polish up your resume if you ask them nicely!
- Enroll a support person – Talk to someone close to you that you know will support your decision – explain why this job change is important to you and tell them that you intend to take small steps forward until you find a position that is right for you. Then, ask them to be your support/encouragement as you progress.
- Write a draft resignation letter – When you find and secure a job you love in a workplace you enjoy, you’ll be needing this letter, so you might as well get it drafted up and tucked away ready to go!
This is just a taster of a few simple actions you could take right now to get the ball rolling, so you can be who you are and do what you love in your career.
- Keep an open mind on your job hunt.
- Look at each opportunity that crosses your path
- Consider new positions and organisations on their merits
- Research and ask questions – there is an answer to everything if you’re willing to seek it out!
- Remember sometimes we find joy in the most unexpected of places, so be willing to look and think outside the square.