Imagine this . . .
You wake up in the morning before the alarm goes off.
You’re so excited about your day at work you can’t wait to get started.
Before you even arrive at the office, you’re filled with great plans about what you’ll accomplish for the day. You feel energized and creative, ready to hit the ground running.
The work you do engages you on a deep level. It’s meaningful and feels authentic — matched perfectly to who you are and what you want to offer the world. You feel passionate about it.
The people you work with are equally passionate and engaged. They make your job more fun and interesting. You feel a profound connection with them, as you work toward common goals and achievements.
The joy and energy you feel in your work spills over into your personal life. Because you are so fulfilled professionally, your relationships are happier. You have the energy and desire to recreate your passion through your lifestyle and hobbies.
Small irritations and life challenges don’t seem to affect you so much. You’re able to move past them without too much pain or disruption.
In short, your life in all regards is fulfilling and happy.
So how close is this imaginary scenario to your life right now? Does your work fulfill and engage you? Is your entire life better because you’re doing work you love?
If you answered “yes” to these questions, you’re in the minority. According to Deloitte’s Shift Index survey, 80% of people are dissatisfied with their jobs. Most people don’t come close to the scenario I described.
Your work takes up a third of your life or more. Why do so many people put up with work they hate? Why don’t people demand more for themselves and their quality of life?
The reason is simple: fear. We fear change and the possibility that change will bring us something worse than we have now. It feels like there’s so much at stake. But the reality is there’s much more at stake by remaining stuck in a bad job — your emotional, mental, and physical health.
If you’re not sure whether things are bad enough to merit leaving, here are ten signs it’s time to move on and make a career change:
1. You have no passion or enjoyment in the work.
The number one most common regret dying people express is not following their dream earlier in life. If you don’t have a passion for your work, or at least enjoy it, you are setting yourself up for regret — not to mention the real time unhappiness you feel in a job that doesn’t excite you. If you have little or no passion for the work you are doing, it’s definitely time to make a career change.
2. You don’t believe in your company’s mission.
If the mission of the organization you work for doesn’t align with your values, or if you simply don’t think the product or service is useful or top-notch, you need to cut the cord. You should never compromise your values or integrity in your job. If you do, you erode your self-respect and the respect others have for you.
3. You feel stressed and unhappy at work more often than not.
If you feel anxiety, dread, and dispirited at work most of the time, you are compromising your physical and mental health. You can’t sustain these negative feelings without consequence. Even more importantly, who wants to live like that every day? Even if you must take a lower-paying, less prestigious job, you will feel more free and energized to find your true passion and seek out work you love.
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4. Your boss doesn’t believe in you or support you, or he or she is unethical.
Let’s face it, your boss controls your destiny with your company. If your boss doesn’t believe in you, or if your boss treats you poorly or is unethical, you need to leave as quickly as possible. You very likely have no positive future with this organization unless you see a change forthcoming with this person.
5. You and others around you don’t believe you are working to your potential.
You know you’re capable of far more than you’re doing in your current job. You have skills, education, or untapped potential that isn’t being utilized, and you don’t see that happening any time in the near future. Don’t let your amazing abilities lie fallow. Move on to a job where you are challenged and appreciated for all you can offer.
6. You feel little or no connection with your work peers.
The people around you are simply not your “tribe.” You feel isolated and out-of-touch with your associates. Unless you really enjoy working alone, this feels draining and demoralizing. We need feedback and connection in our work environments to work to our potential and feel engaged.
7. You’re only hanging in there for the money and security.
A regular paycheck and job security are critical, but if these are the only reasons you’re staying with your job, you need to reconsider whether or not it’s really worth it. Shift your thinking to get comfortable with some element of uncertainty and risk so you have the freedom to make necessary change when you don’t like your job.
8. You see few or no opportunities to for promotion or to grow with the company.
Even if you like the work you are doing, if there’s no room for growth, eventually you’ll stagnate and lose interest in your job. If you foresee this happening down the road, now is a great time to plan your exit strategy. Make a change while you are at your peak rather than waiting until you’re miserable.
9. Your true talents and strengths go unnoticed by your boss or management.
No matter how hard you try, how many achievements you have under your belt, those in charge aren’t acknowledging your abilities and rewarding you for them. This will take a toll on your confidence and self-esteem as you second-guess your value to the company and your abilities. Find an organization that appreciates all you have to offer.
10. Your dissatisfaction at work is negatively impacting your relationships.
Your unhappiness at work is tainting your life outside of work. Your spouse and family see your unhappiness, and you don’t have much to offer them when you come home from work. You’re tired, irritable, and maybe even depressed. Your relationships are the most important aspect of your life. Don’t let them suffer or erode because you hate your job.
Your work is a huge part of your life. When you’re unhappy in it, you can’t be happy with your life in general. You may need to make financial and lifestyle sacrifices in the short term to change careers, uncover your passion, and find work that you love.
But the positive impact of feeling in control of your destiny and following your dream will help you overcome these sacrifices. If you think it’s time for a career change, then it’s probably well past time. Take action now so you won’t live with regret.
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Photo: Pryere on Flickr