Surely everyone feels stuck, stressed, bored, undervalued and generally unhappy at work from time to time? It’s just the normal pattern of life’s ups and downs.
Maybe. But what if there are more downs than ups? What if you continually feel unfulfilled in your career, in-spite of your best efforts?
At what point do pay attention to your inner voice, the one telling you that there has to be a better way for you?
Making a change in your career isn’t always a quick fix, but often the hardest part is recognising how you feel and admitting that it is time to start doing something about it.
To help you identify whether you are at this stage, here are 5 signs to look out for. How many of these sound familiar to you?
- You justify and keep going
You have that nagging feeling that you are in the wrong job/career or that you have not yet found your calling, but you supress it.
You’ve worked hard to get to this point in your career; many people would love to have your job, including you maybe 5-10 years ago. And besides, all of that ‘follow your dreams’ stuff is a bit of a fantasy isn’t it? You don’t even know what else you’d want to do anyway.
The feeling gets stronger, but you resolve to stick with it and think positive. You are not someone who gives up easily and things are bound to get better.
If by and large you are in the right career, this approach may help improve the way you feel. If however, your job is no longer right for you (or perhaps never was), then this ‘fix’ will be akin to sticking a flea sized plaster on an elephant.
- You disguise the way you feel in front of others
You use huge amounts of energy going through the motions, focusing on making it work and trying to be something or someone you are not. But how long can you pretend?
Generally, if you are not being true to yourself, it will seep out in some way or another. Your self-confidence and/or performance may start to dip. Situations you previously handled well may now feel like wading through treacle and it becomes almost impossible to disguise the fact that you just no longer care or see value in what you are doing – what difference am I actually making here?
- You can’t imagine your future career
You used to always be working towards something – a promotion, a qualification, more money, working abroad, a new project etc. But now you fear your career mojo is dwindling and you just can’t picture what your next move will be.
You ask yourself big overwhelming questions like “what do I want to do for the rest of my life?” And are surprised and defeated when you don’t know the answer.
Scrolling through job adverts and LinkedIn becomes your latest obsession but nothing jumps out at you. Your thinking becomes more limited, any ideas seem impossible and you are left feeling constrained by fear and the barriers you put up.
- That ‘Sunday night’ feeling is no longer reserved for Sundays
Nope. It is now daily. It can start to impact your mood, your emotions and even your physical well-being. Your shoulders feel tense, your energy is zapped, your sleep is affected and you feel sick at the prospect of the day ahead.
Your brain goes around in circles, always focusing on the problem and never finding a solution. You feel trapped by the reasons to stay put. You probably have a list along these lines:
- I don’t have time or can’t face the upheaval of change.
- I can’t afford to change; I need to maintain my income to cover my commitments/ lifestyle.
- I can’t find a way to balance my career and the rest of life.
- It’s too late to change careers now and I don’t want to start back at the bottom of the ladder.
- I have a sense of duty; I should be doing X; others expect me to do X.
- I have absolutely no idea how to change.
- Finally, something shifts
This is different for everyone. Often something happens, some sort of catalyst that forces the situation or helps you to shift your perception.
In some cases, you may develop an acceptance that (with a few tweaks) the good you gain from your current job outweighs the bad. If this happens, then the feeling is one of peace and of recognition that it is a conscious choice.
But chances are, particularly if you have felt a surge of empathy with the points above, you will reach the point where you can say “enough is enough, I am not prepared to feel like this until I retire”.
Arriving at this point means giving yourself permission to want something different. It means embracing the possibility of change, even if it still feels like a big buzzy ball of unknowns.
It means owning your situation, putting on your courageous pants and making the categorical decision to take the first step towards making something new happen.
The next question is generally WHAT and HOW? This is the moment to get in touch with me!