Merge Gupta-Sunderji is a leadership speaker, consultant and the founder of leadership development consultancy Turning Managers Into Leaders.
If you’re just looking for a paycheque to cover your rent and groceries, then any old job will do. But if you’re looking for a career that will not only pay the bills but also excite and fulfill you – a profession that you can’t wait to get to every single day – then you need to be thoughtful about what you choose as a way to make a living. Not only that, it’s also important to work in an organization that is compatible with your values – fundamental beliefs that are important to you, and motivate many of your behaviours and actions. Given that most of us spend more than one-third of our waking hours “at work,” life is too short to be in a job that you’re not passionate (or at least enthusiastic) about.
But how do you know if “your job” is right for you? How can you tell if it’s time to start looking for something different? What are the warning signs that you should jump ship and find another schooner to sail with? These five clues should help.
Your work is not challenging
When was the last time you did something at work for the first time? If you can’t remember, it is a powerful hint that you should probably think about doing something else. If you find your tasks uninteresting or too easy, you’re probably not being challenged enough. And if you can’t see any opportunities for new learning or development, pay attention to the writing on the wall: You’ve most likely outgrown this position.
You can’t wait for quittin’ time
If you spend most of your day dreaming about what you’re going to do after work, then you should be concerned. True, you don’t have to be captivated by and immersed in everything you do; after all, every job has some boring stuff. But if you’re impatiently counting down the hours and minutes to when you can walk out the door, then it’s time to keep walking – onward to something else.
Your manager doesn’t appreciate or support you
You may have heard that people don’t leave companies, they leave their direct supervisor; it is true. Unfortunately, there are managers who won’t hesitate to ask you for extra effort and hours, but then can’t be bothered to say thanks or even acknowledge you. There is also the boss who ignores your expertise or input, doesn’t treat you with respect or, worse, actually undermines your decisions, usually in front of others. When you add in the bullying boss who regularly throws temper tantrums, it’s definitely time to hit the road and find a new truck stop.
Your co-workers frustrate and irritate you
It is unrealistic to hope that you will absolutely adore everyone you work with. But it is reasonable to expect that you can have a professional relationship with most, if not all, of your co-workers. Sadly, there are toxic workplaces that take so much out of you that you are drained at the end of the day. Even more damaging is when you take some of your tiring co-workers home with you, in your head, and fall asleep with them floating around in your subconscious. Before you reach this point, it is wise to recognize that this job is no longer right for you, and it is time to look for mental wellness elsewhere.
You can’t see opportunities to progress forward
You may occasionally find yourself in a workplace that you quite enjoy, but which offers no opportunities for advancement. Often, these are smaller companies. Or perhaps the role you aspire to is blocked by someone who isn’t going anywhere, at least not any time soon. If you’re looking to continue to progress in your career (and increase your income), your only choice may be to leave the organization and go elsewhere. Make the leap. The danger with staying too long in a role, even if it’s gratifying, is that you may pigeonhole yourself, and then have difficulty being competitive for future opportunities elsewhere.
If three or more of these clues are true for you, then don’t settle for what you have right now. If you need this job to pay your bills, then, of course, don’t quit until you find something else. But whatever you do, don’t stop looking. Don’t settle for less than you deserve.
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