So you’ve been in your job a good while, and you’ve noticed motivation is dwindling. Maybe you don’t feel challenged enough, or maybe you feel like you’re not moving in the direction you want any more.
Your interests and goals naturally change over time, but how do you know if you’re ready for a job change? Here are a few indicators that it might be time for you to make your move.
You often feel stressed and tired
Do you find you’re dragging your feet on the commute to work, and are lacking the spring in your step that you once had? Are you sleeping less well than you used to, or are you more often prone to bouts of irritability or low spirits?
Any of these could be symptoms of rising stress levels – a kind of bodily early warning system that things with you aren’t quite as they should be. Stress can affect your mood and your immune system, making you more susceptible to colds and low moods, and impairing performance; left unchecked, more serious health issues can develop too.
So if you're getting the feeling that your body is trying to tell you something, it’s worth taking a moment to try and understand the message.
You don’t believe in the company like you used to
When you began working in your current job it seemed full of possibilities, and you felt proud to identify yourself as an employee of your organisation. But recently you’ve noticed a change in the office atmosphere, and your belief or confidence in the organisation isn’t what it was.
Perhaps the company has taken some commercial or strategic decisions that don’t sit well with you? Perhaps a management reshuffle has not been a change for the better in your view? Or perhaps it’s just that your own thinking has evolved, and you’re starting to feel that the company’s values don’t align closely enough with your own anymore?
A lack of shared values can be a powerful motivator. If this sounds like you, it might be time to start looking around for a new company that you can really believe in.
You're watching the clock
You used to wake up in the morning excited about what you might achieve during the day ahead. You'd even take on extra projects and stay late voluntarily to get extra work done. Now, you're counting down the hours until you can log off and hit the street. You find yourself tempted to just take on the minimum workload, rather than look for opportunities to stretch yourself or go the extra mile.
Everyone deserves to work in a job that they feel enthusiastic about doing and that keeps them eager to make a difference. It may be that your job doesn’t stretch you any more, or your current employer doesn’t have an adequate development path for you. Either way, it could be time to move on to something that ignites your passion again.
Your skills don’t match up to your personal interests
Sometimes people get hired for things they’re really good at but don’t necessarily especially like doing. Perhaps you’re skilled in software sales but would prefer to be in marketing. Maybe you’re great at creating spreadsheets, but you’d prefer to be out meeting clients instead of sitting at a computer screen all day. Perhaps you’ve found yourself practising in one area of law when you’ve always really fancied another.
Though it’s not always easy to make it happen, it’s natural to want to align your personal interests with your career activity – and the longer you leave it, the harder it can be to switch as you become more and more specialised in a field that you don’t feel is really you. As Steve Jobs once said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle.” So now could be the time to take the opportunity while you can, and see what you can achieve if you try.
You feel invisible
Do you feel that your opinions and contributions sometimes go unacknowledged? You may have been overlooked for a promotion or an important project and you’re finding others get the credit for things you suggested months ago. Perhaps relationships within your team aren’t as cordial or collaborative as they used to be and team members aren’t socialising together anymore.
You spend a significant proportion of your time every week working in your team, so it’s important that you feel a valued member and that the atmosphere is friendly, productive and encouraging. If you’ve done everything you can to improve the dynamic but things still don’t feel right, then it may be time to find something new to challenge you and where you feel you can make a real difference.
You’ve just grown out of your current role
Sometimes it can be hard to accept that a role – however much you like your company, and however well you get on with your co-workers – is just not substantial enough for you anymore. But staying in a role that you’ve grown out of, out of a sense of loyalty or hesitation to change, could become a demotivating experience in the longer term.
You’ve developed skills and experience over time, and you’re ready for new challenges. Sometimes an employer may simply not have the resources or business case to be able to develop you adequately, and sometimes what your career needs is the sort of step change that only a job switch can really provide.
If that sounds like you, don’t be afraid to start exploring your options. You owe it to yourself, after all.
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Read our job switch checklist for 12 things you can do now to prepare for changing roles.