Feeling burned out in your current job? You might decide that what you need is a career change. And you may be right!
But before you make such a drastic decision, here are a few things to consider.
Make a list of everything you do in your current job. Take a few days to do this, adding items as you become aware of them. Next, highlight the tasks/actions that you really enjoy. If there aren’t any, you may indeed be in the wrong job.
What is more common, however, is to find that there are a number of items on your list that you really do like. It’s all those other things you’re doing that are causing you to dislike your work.
Next, ask yourself how you can get rid of those tasks that you dislike. How about delegating them? Or hiring someone else to do those things, freeing you to do what you really like to do. Perhaps you need to hire a virtual or real-time assistant.
If you have clients, ask yourself if there are certain ones you really love to work with. What do they have in common? What are the characteristics of those clients you don’t enjoy working with?
Once you’ve identified your ideal client, ask yourself how you can get more of them. Where do they hang out? What do they read? Such questions can give you clues about ways to market to them. And don’t forget to ask your current ideal clients for referrals.
At the same time, what can you do to eliminate working with those clients you don’t enjoy? Perhaps you’ll bring in an associate to work with them; maybe you’ll refer them to someone else.
Or you can simply decide not to take any new ones who fit the criteria for your “unwanted” list.
Now take a look at your own personal values (see side bar). Once you’ve listed your top 10, ask yourself if there are any of those values that you are not currently honoring in your life. If so, your unhappiness may be due to not expressing that value rather than to the kind of work you are doing. Of course, if your work is in direct conflict with a top value, you’ll want to find a way to transition into something fulfilling.
Let’s say one of your core values is to contribute and your job doesn’t create the kind of contribution you want to make. Then a friend invites you to participate in an organization whose emphasis is contribution; you get involved with the organization, and suddenly your job no longer irritates you. Why? Because you are meeting your need to contribute outside of your work. You can increase your satisfaction with your job either by expressing more of your top values during your work day or by meeting those needs during your off-time.
Maybe one of your core values is creativity, yet you find yourself stuck in a very uncreative role.
Have you let your boss/supervisor know your frustrations and desires? When you get your yearly performance appraisal is a perfect time to bring up these kinds of career issues, enlisting your boss’ help for getting you into a career path more in line with your wishes. (Of course, you don’t have to wait for that time to bring it up!). The point is to take charge of your own career, asking for what you want and being proactive about getting there.
Finally, ask yourself if the reason you want to leave your current job is because your work-life balance is all out of whack. Your life feels out of control; all work and no play.
Guess what? The problem may not be your job; it may be poor time management, a problem setting boundaries or an emotional issue. Most jobs/careers will let you work as many hours as you are willing to put in; being a “workaholic” carries with you from one work setting to another.
Instead of switching jobs, why not first learn to set priorities and balance out your life? Stop going to non-work after-hours meetings unless the organizations are really helping your business or expressing a passion. Make time for your significant relationships. And don’t forget to take a close look at your health and fitness—are you getting regular physical exercise? Are you eating a healthy diet?
Most of all, be sure you save some time for moi’ and do those things that nurture your body or soul. It could be fiddling with your plants, brushing your cat, reading mystery novels, journaling, getting a facial, camping out, enjoying old movies, taking bubble baths in candlelight, whatever. The point is, the activity restores you and re-charges your physical or emotional batteries.
Once you’re attending to your priorities and taking better care of yourself, you may decide you really like the job you have!
Judi Craig, Ph.D., MCC is an Executive & Career Coach in San Antonio, TX and President of Coach Squared, Inc. Visit www.coachsquared.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
SIDEBAR: Examples of Core Values