Your career will evolve over time- just as you do. Each evolution, ideally, brings you ever closer to fulfilling your life’s work more profoundly. Live your life by design not by default.
Not every hiccup or ‘dry spell’ in a career means its time to throw in the towel and do something new. We’ve all had the occasional day when getting to work was not your very first choice for how you wanted to spend your day.
However if boredom and bitterness become chronic it’s time to consider an alternative career path. That may mean a slight modification or a complete overhaul. Let’s take a look at some sure fire things that indicate, it’s time for a change.
Clue #1 Chronic Lack of Energy or Boredom.
If your iron levels are fine, you’re not anemic, you’re eating well and you’re at work and not feeling energized at all and really bored. It’s time to figure out which parts of your job are draining you. Is it the commute, the projects, your co-workers, your boss. Get specific. This will help you figure out what needs to change.
Like your work but hate the commute, move closer; don’t fancy your co-workers or your boss is overbearing , get reassigned to a different team or switch to a similar position at a different company.
If it’s the work you hate, well read on before jumping ship.
Think about the things that jazz you. The people, the places, the activities you enjoy. What fascinates you. When do you frequently lose track of time because you are so entranced with what you are doing at work? What is is about those people, places, things that you enjoy? Any themes? What do they have in common that holds your interest? Do you enjoy sales because you truly enjoy people, finances because you like working with numbers, writing because it allows for creativity?
Andrew’s dad worked in Real Estate, he had done well and wanted Andrew to join him in the business. As Andrew began his work with dad after college, he noticed that he thought Real Estate was okay but found that the work he enjoyed was less involved with working directly with clients and more based in re-imaging how an older home might be upgraded, staged and it’s curbside appeal enhanced. He loved the challenge of having a budget and being charged with giving a home a ‘facelift’. He successfully worked his way into creating a team that did high-end landscaping and exterior/curbside redesigning. His energy and engagement were high. At the end of his day, he’s tired but satisfied with how he’s spent his day.
Clue # 2 : Apathy
If you feel like your on autopilot day after day, and you’re wishing you were somewhere else. it’s a good time to ask yourself what you would care about. Are you ready to work at things on a larger scale, do you want more independence, more brainstorming opportunities, more challenging work?
Sarah liked her team but wasn’t enjoying the project she was working on. She did great work but it didn’t energize her. She took the initiative and began looking at other projects within her company and soon found one the dealt with accessibility solutions for blind people. Her grandmother had gone blind it a later age and she felt very connected to the project. With a little convincing she was able to change projects. No major career upheaval just a simple change in how she applied her skills. She quickly noticed an increase in how invested she was in the new project.
Kim knew that she thrived when she was able to problem solve in creative ways. Shortly after taking a new job she realized that she liked her work but that the company culture was ‘by the book’ and she felt stifled. She decided to reboot her job search, this time with a focus on company culture and soon found a job that valued her out of the box approach and her passion for her work skyrocketed.
Clue # 3: Jealousy
When jealousy rears its ugly head it’s often a sign that you want something you haven’t given yourself permission to have. In the area of careers, it might be worth exploring why you are so ticked off about the job that a friend has. It may be that it’s a job in a field you yourself would secretly like to pursue.
What’s up with that?
Before doing anything drastic, you’ll want to identify what ‘triggered’ your jealousy. Do you get curious whenever you hear someone is involved in tech or feel envy if you meet someone who is in research?
First: Break it down. What aspect of the job is making your jealous? Are you jealous of Andrew the landscaper because he gets to spend a lot of time outdoors, or of Sarah because she’s working on innovative technology? What would be thrilling for you about the job?
Next: Is there a way to bring the aspects you crave into your current work? If not, a serious career switch may be in order.
When Trip started working with me as his coach, he was the head of a research lab working at the cutting edge of his industry and yet he was bored and still unsure about what he wanted to do. By his own admission, he pursued a second degree in Bio-Technology more to delay making a decision about a career than because of a passion for the topic.
On a regular basis he presented his work to the business side of the company and consistently found the discussion on what they would do with the science more interesting than his own lab’s finding and increasingly found himself resentful that once the meeting was over, that he was back in the lab, even though those that worked with him really disliked all the ‘suit-talk’ and couldn’t wait to get back to their test tubes and processes.
Once he realized he was really jealous of those that ‘got to work’ on the business side of the industry, he was able to begin bridging the gap between his education and his desired work. He spoke up and got himself involved with business projects and shortly became head of product development and got a hefty raise.
The universe is not sending you a signal to make over your entire career when you have an occasional slow day or a jealous pang. Sometimes just spending your lunch hour in a way that makes you happy can have a dramatic impact on how you feel about your day. However, if you are living your life by default instead of by design. If you start to notice that there’s an ongoing , chronic sense of boredom or bitterness, it may be time to think about making a change.