Feeling unsatisfied at work? You’re not alone.
Worldwide, just 13% of employees report feeling fully engaged at work, according to research by Gallup. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be one of them.
While taking the leap to leave your unfulfilling job can be a difficult decision, it may be the best move you can make for your career and your well-being. Here are five signs that you may need to move on and how to address them so that your next employment situation is a much better fit:
Stagnating at a job that doesn’t use your talents and skills or stimulate your curiosity isn’t going to help your career in the long run. Even if you chose your job simply for the paycheck, you’re selling yourself short if you’re not able to find ways to develop your skills, talents or career path in the process. If you’ve repeatedly asked for, volunteered for and sought out these opportunities and they just aren’t happening, you can find them elsewhere.
Instead: Make a list of the skills and interests you have now and the ones you’d like to develop more. Where would you like to grow? What would you be doing five years from now, if it were up to you? Rewrite your resume to reflect those goals and filter out job opportunities that match them.
That’s right. Fun and work are not mutually exclusive. In fact, quite the opposite. We spend a lot of hours at work and if those hours aren’t pleasant or engaging, that’s going to spill over into all of the other parts of our lives. Research by the Great Place to Work Institute discovered that fun is a big factor in employee productivity and company growth. In fact, most employees who work for companies recognized as “Great Places to Work” describe their workplace as a fun place to work. This isn’t just about culture. If you can’t find something fun about the work you do or the industry you do it in, you need to start looking elsewhere.
Instead: Put aside all of the data about the hottest industries and career outlooks and ask yourself a simple question: what do I find fun? Dig deep, and look for the places where your idea of fun intersects with job opportunities.
Every job comes with stressful periods. Deadlines, workloads, bad bosses, travel, unexpected business changes and high-stakes responsibilities are realities of the modern workplace. But tolerating a continual diet of stress—physical or emotional—is not a badge of honor. It’s not sustainable. It can kill you. If you have done what’s in your power to make healthy changes in your routine, responsibilities or work environment and your job is still having a negative impact on your health, it’s time to go.
Instead: Prioritize your well-being by deciding today what you are willing to do and not do to take care of yourself. Consider work environment, company culture, travel and hours, type of role and management style. Develop a short checklist to use when interviewing for and deciding on your next gig.
If you crave better integration between your career and your personal priorities (the real-life definition of the elusive “work-life balance”), the only person who can make that happen is you. Not your boss. Not your company. It starts with having a practical understanding of what would make you feel more balanced. What specifically do you want to have time for? What small changes have you already made? Standing up for your version of real-life balance may mean that you need to find a job, career or workplace that is more aligned with your priorities.
Instead: Define what you mean by “work-life balance.” What supports or resources would you need from your workplace to achieve that? Don’t be willing to settle for a job where you know that those needs won’t be met.
We often say that we work for the paycheck, but the truth is that we want a whole lot of other things from our jobs. Workplace psychology research suggests that factors like having some personal control over your work, skill-building, stimulating external goals, variety, clear expectations and feedback, social position and the opportunity to interact with others are just as important as being paid fairly. Some people see their job as just that—a job. While others are focused on building a career, or view their work as more of a calling. Understanding your own expectations helps you find a job that meets them, too.
Instead: Design your next job before you start looking. What do you most want from your work? What energizes and drains you? What motivates you? Write your ideal job description and use it as a guide for sorting through opportunities and evaluating your next company.
Once you’ve decided to move on, be sure to take the time you need to get very clear on the issues that are making you unhappy – and what you need and want instead. Do this before you start your search, and make that the cornerstone of your job search, and you’ll greatly improve your chances of finding a job you love.
Thinking of hiring a career coach to help you transition into a new career that you love? Connect with Sally, browse our directory of career coaches and get a FREE consultation or request a personalized coach recommendation!
Sally Anne Carroll is a life / career coach for professionals and entrepreneurs who want to re-tool their work, define success on their own terms and design healthy, balanced lifestyles that match their strengths and priorities. She’s a freedom-focused advocate for helping clients reimagine, redefine and reinvent the status quo to achieve their personal vision of success and fulfillment. Sally splits her time between Portland, Oregon, and Christchurch, New Zealand.