If you find yourself feeling bored, uneasy and completely unmotivated at work, it may be time to reassess your situation. Here are signs you’ve outgrown your job and it’s time to move on.
You’ve gained lots of experience and your projects haven’t kept up; you don’t need to actively learn new skills or stretch yourself on a regular basis and it doesn’t seem like there is much room to grow.
The job you have now leads to the work you’ll be doing later. If your organization is small and not growing, you may not see opportunities for promotion. If you bring a unique skill set to your organization you might not have the opportunity to learn from an internal mentor. If your role is too much of a hodgepodge of different activities, it could be hard to build a clear skill set. So if you don’t see where your current role is taking you, it’s likely that you’re already ready for something new.
If you have an emerging vision of your career and your impact that doesn’t fit with your job or would require a new level of experience, that’s a sign that you need to move on. There doesn’t have to be a straight line between where you are and where you going but they should be linked.
Make a list of what you do like about your role and what’s not working for you. Look at a wide variety of factors like the work environment, skills you use, and the mission your work supports. If it’s too early to tell what factors fit your work style and career aims, and which don’t, you probably want to stay put. If a disproportionate number of items on the list show that you need more challenge or you’ve learned that a different kind of organization or work environment would be better, that’s a sign.
Ideally, much of your work is in a state of flow. You love what you do and even when it’s challenging you want more! If you start to watch as the minutes tick by and become increasingly disinterested in your work, it’s a sign that you’re ready for something new.
A career you love is like an incredible marriage. It can take time, effort and mistakes to find the right relationship. If someone told you that you were going to marry your job how would you feel? Like you hit the jackpot? Great! Imagining yourself running from the alter? Pay attention.
Often peers and colleagues will let you know that they see more potential then your current role allows. They may say it directly or indicate it by giving you new opportunities, mentorship, or lots of affirmation.
The body has a way of communicating what’s really going even when the rest of you isn’t ready to see it yet. Notice when your body feels out of balance. Look for headaches, back or muscle aches, changes in appetite or sleep pattern as signals that you’re out of balance. View these signals in combination with the other 9 signs and try to be honest with yourself. What information is this physical signal giving me? Could be just a need for a getaway weekend. Or does your inner voice say it’s about your job?
If you keep thinking about quitting or simply exploring what’s out there, don’t ignore those thoughts. Instead, try journaling or drawing and reflect on what you’re thinking and when these thoughts emerge. Try a focused free write. Ask yourself, “What do I think about my current position?” and write nonstop for 10 minutes. There’s a lot there. Phrases like excited, learning everyday, getting results, making an impact? Just right! Words like: frustrated, constrained, dead-end, alone, ready for more? You’re ready for more. Fear can keep us from admitting we’re yearning for something different. This voice knows what is really going on. If you listen carefully, it will let you know too.
If this were the last day of your life, would you go to this job? You might have a few days where the answer is no, but if you find yourself feeling that way too many days in a row, listen up. Steve Jobs used this test every morning and shared it with Stanford graduates in his famous 2005 commencement address.
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*This article has been republished with permission Project Eve.