Career Change: Is Now the Time?Posted: December 5, 2014
Recently I published a post about midlife (or other) career change. Related to that is the situation that too many people face–being in a lousy (read: toxic) work situation that clearly isn’t going to get substantially better soon, if ever.
During this year-end holiday period, you might benefit from carving out at least some time to consider your current work environment and decide whether it’s great from start to finish, satisfactory in all major aspects, mediocre at best, or dangerously toxic to your well-being. If it’s no more than mediocre, a change could still be worth thinking about. If it’s seriously toxic, I’d suggest that change is highly desirable, if not actually essential.
Warning Signs a Career Change is Needed
I once worked with a woman who was so miserable in her job that she not only came to work with a sick feeling in her stomach but on occasion couldn’t even make it to work, she felt so terrible. She had a seriously male chauvinistic boss who didn’t place a high value on women in the workplace, and she didn’t have the personality to give him as good as she got, so she suffered in silence instead. If there ever was a recipe for disaster, that was it. After I left that place, I heard that she did eventually move on to a new job, but think of what she endured in the meantime!
Recently I read an excellent article on “10 Warning Signs You Need a Career Change” by Linda Hildebrant. The opening statement in the article relates to the worst-case type of scenario I referenced above: “Do you trudge back and forth to your office every day with a dull sense of dread in the pit of your stomach?”
Of the 10 warning signs Hildebrant included in her article, these were my “favorites”–that is, they struck me as particularly important:
- Sunday night dismay is a regular occurrence: If you lose sleep over the thought of going to work in the morning, it may be time to pack up with the little shred of sanity you have left.
- Your passion is waning: Do you still believe the work you’re doing serves an important or worthwhile purpose?
- A monkey could do your job: When your talent isn’t valued by your employer, it can be difficult to keep yourself motivated, and any loyalty gets shoved right down the grinding disposal.
- You’re trapped in a box: Do you feel as if your professional growth is being stunted? If you’re dissatisfied and unfulfilled with your opportunities for growth, you do yourself a disservice by sticking with your job.
- You suffer from dragging-clock syndrome. (Probably all of us know how that feels.)
Impulsive vs. Thoughtful Career Change
While it’s possible to let inertia, dread of change, or other negative factors keep you immobilized in a bad work environment, it’s not a great idea to blow off steam at your boss and go charging out the door with no clue where you’re heading next. Somewhere between those two extremes is a thoughtful, well-planned approach to career change (which can include a job change within your current career field).
As with any major life decision–which a job or career change is–you’re better off if you do some careful research and planning before you leap into the unknown. That preparation can also help you determine whether now is the right time for your career change or, if not, what time might be the right one. Life definitely has no guarantees, but you can stack the deck in your favor if you approach the situation thoughtfully.