I hear it all the time- people will say, “I’m not sure if I need a career change” or “It might just be a slow period, so I’ll wait.” And wait they do!
And wait….and wait….and wait…until the pain of going into work everyday becomes so unbearable and they become so disengaged that their co-workers and loved ones start to notice…and by that point, reputational damage could have already happened. And by that point, it may be damaging to personal relationships.
So, how do you realize it’s time to consider a career change BEFORE all of that fire and brimstone stuff happens? I’ve got three totally doable ways for you that will stave off career malaise and personal ruin (I’m kidding but only half kidding):
Set Your Goals
Pick your timing for what works for you, but I recommend creating yearly goals and quarterly goals. Then break those down into weekly and daily goals. It may seem like goal overload, but doing that enabled me to take my fledgling business from a nighttime/weekend thing to full-time in a few months, so keeping up with it really works.
Also read: Set Goals You Can Really Achieve
Maybe your yearly goal is to get the promotion to the director level. Make sure you’re clear on WHY you want that and that it aligns with your values and what YOU want, not what other people want. If you pass that test, then great! That’s the yearly goal. Set broader quarterly goals to get closer as the year progresses to that goal. Then, for the first quarter only, set weekly goals for the first couple of weeks. You may need to adjust as things unfurl, so you don’t want to go too far down the rabbit hole. Lastly, each night before you leave work, set a couple of goals for the following day that support your weekly goal. (That then supports the quarterly goal and the end goal- the promotion.)
Gut Check: If the goals don’t excite you or your manager isn’t aligned with your goals, it may be time to consider a career change.
Track Your Projects (And Progress)
Once you’ve got that put into place, make sure you’re tracking the projects you’re on that support the end goal. How is the project doing? How are you contributing to the project? Make sure to take note of quantitative progress and qualitative progress. For example, was the goal of the project to save a client $200,000 over 4 months? Are you on track? How close? What did YOU specifically do to get there?
Gut Check: If you’re not able to come up with these answers, or if the answers just plain don’t excite you, then it’s time to consider a career change.
Monitor Your Feelings/Check In With Your Mission
It’s important to ensure you’re energetically aligned with your mission or goal. If it’s just one foot in front of the other with no vision or passion for the task at hand, then why are you doing it? I use a variation of daily check in questions I adapted from a colleague of mine who uses a version for her startup. I think they are universal questions that can be slightly tweaked to fit any of our situations:
- How am I feeling right now and why?
- Potential Solutions
- What do I want to achieve?
- How will I get there?
- Why am I grateful?
- What am I proud of?
- Where can I improve?
- What am I looking forward to for tomorrow and what are my most important tasks?
Gut Check: Answer these questions daily for a month and then re-read your answers.
Write it down! Maybe in the moment or on one particular day you’re not thinking big picture but when you sit and read a month’s worth of answers you can see there is unhappiness and lack of fulfillment. And then, dear reader, it’s in black and white and- you guessed it- it’s time to make a career change.