“How bad does work have to be to know I need to change my career?” Listen, I can’t tell you where you draw the line, sweetpea. But I can tell you the signs I commonly see in people who’ve decided enough’s enough…
Oh I see you. Dabbling in this world of ‘change my career’. Dipping a toe in here, trying it on a little there.
You know your work feels like a terrible fit right now. You know you want something different. But perhaps it’s also a little bit scary.
Wouldn’t it be SO MUCH EASIER, not to have to make a change at all?
And so in creep the What Ifs…
“What if my work isn’t actually that bad? Maybe I don’t need to change my career, maybe I’m just being a drama llama? Maybe it will all get better when I get that new project / pay rise / promotion?”
“What if everybody’s work feels like this? What if I just need to get my head down and stop wondering whether the grass is greener anywhere else?”
Before you know it, you’ve put this change my career ‘nonsense’ down and run back to the comfortable discomfort you’ve gotten so used to.
But it’s never for long is it? Before that niggling feeling of ‘What if there could be something else out there for me?’ starts to knock impatiently again on your soul…
Each time, it takes all your courage to stick your head out, peek around, try to learn more about what changing your career could look and feel like for you.
And it takes just one chance comment from a family member or friend, one story of someone for whom it didn’t work out, for you to scurry terrified back into the cage you know you want to escape.
And so you rinse and repeat. All the while, doubting yourself and not getting anywhere fast.
Let’s take a moment to get some real objectivity on what your career situation really is.
Here are some of the key and most common signs I see in people who are unhappy at work, who decide that it’s time to make a shift, and who go on to make successful career changes.
Because maybe, if you see what you’re going through reflected here, you’ll know whether you need to change yours.
Perhaps this time, you’ll tolerate the scary feeling and try to push yourself to take one step more, whatever that looks like for you.
And maybe you’ll be able to see that you’re not crazy for wanting more from your work.
Which ones are coming up for you?
1. Fighting tiredness all day
You go to bed at a decent hour.
You’re clocking up a solid night’s kip, most days of the week.
But it doesn’t seem to matter HOW much sleep you get, you feel exhausted at work.
Struggling to keep your eyes open when you think about your to-do list. Brain drifting off mid-task. You can’t wait to get home and flop on the sofa.
The drain on your reserves of having to show up day after day in a role that doesn’t allow you to fully be yourself.
Your work is quite literally is sucking the life out of you.
Is this what’s happening for you?
2. It’s negatively affecting your relationships
You’re sick of hearing yourself complain about your work.
You want to talk about something else, anything else, but it seems like your thoughts and your words always come back to it.
You can’t concentrate or be fully present for your partner, your family, your friends, because when you try to focus on them, the big fat negative feelings that you carry about work are always right there, in your peripheral vision, the proverbial elephant in the room.
Special occasions feel muted, tarnished. You can’t show up the way you want to, because you don’t know how to get back to being the version of you who can.
So, you try to push it down, but it just bubbles right back up again.
You feel yourself become a fraction of who you used to be. And what’s more? You see this reflected back at you in the eyes of your loved ones, who’d do anything to help you not feel this way, if only they knew WHAT would help.
Does this feel true for you?
3. You don’t want to be anyone who’s above you
You look at your boss, your line manager, the people ahead of you on this path you’re barrelling along.
And you don’t want to be any of them.
They’re like versions of you, ten years down the line, living the future that you’re hurtling towards.
And there’s not a single part of you that feels any joy, whatsoever, at that prospect.
You’re even having trouble convincing yourself that the increased pay packet would make it any better. In fact, it takes a great deal of restraint not to run away screaming.
Everything about what they’re doing feels like a colossal ‘NOPE’.
4. You become a Friday junkie
You’re wishing away the week, so you can get to your two days off where you can finally be unapologetically yourself.
You’re riding the weekly emotional roller coaster which is directly correlated with your DFFW (Distance From Forthcoming Weekend).
Over time, the Monday-morning blues becomes the Sunday-night dread, and before you know it, it’s eating into your Saturday too.
Wednesdays become an achievement. “Happy hump day”, you joke, but deep down there’s something that doesn’t sit well with you about each week feeling like an uphill battle.
So you live for Fridays. And the short-lived, superficial hit of getting to the end of another working week.
You daydream about getting away from it all.
And then another week begins.
Does this sound like you?
5. Your thoughts swirl in crazy loops about it.
How you feel about work is the first thought that hits you in the morning.
And it’s the thing that keeps you up, sleepless, tossing and turning about at night.
“How could I change my career?” you ask. A perfectly sensible starting point.
Each time you start at the beginning, trying to spot an answer you hadn’t seen before, thinking through your options one by one, and each time coming up empty handed.
So you start again, looking for the elusive missing piece of your thought puzzle that would make everything feel clear.
But you can’t find it. Endlessly you loop through the same sequence of thoughts, feeling a little bit more desperate each time.
Are you catching yourself doing this?
6. You’re spending, drinking, shopping the pain away.
There comes a point where your brain can’t be this switched on to the discomfort you’re experiencing.
And because it’s impossible to switch off that sense of pain, you numb it away, or mask it with something that gives a pleasant but short-lived distraction.
Perhaps you’re drinking more than you know is good for you. Perhaps you hitting your credit card, buying loads of things you don’t really need to get a little rush of retail endorphins.
It’s a release from being switched on to the crazy thought loops all the time, and it gives you a rest.
But you know, deep down, that this is not sustainable long-term, not unless your prepared to permanently sacrifice your health, or your bank balance.
Are you self-medicating like this?
7. You’re starting to not BE well
You’ve started getting headaches.
A knotty feeling deep in your chest, a constant low level adrenaline that makes you restless and uneasy, or aches and pains that you can’t explain.
You’re having trouble getting to sleep. You feel strained somehow, all the time. It’s hard to switch off. You can’t even remember the last time you relaxed properly.
You know that the way you feel about work is impacting on your sense of well-being, on your mental health.
And your body’s starting to feel the strain too.
Is this you?
“So, should I change my career?”
Do you see yourself in these descriptions? Is it landing with you that it’s not OK to feel like this about your work?
If you see yourself in one, that’s a problem. If it’s in more than one, we need to talk.
When you don’t do work you love, you’re playing small. And my guess is that you KNOW, deep down, that living an apologetic half-life is not your style.
So if you want to love what you do, if you want to make a positive difference in the world, and if you want to bring all of who you are to your work, reach out.
Because when you’re ready to commit to making a change, even if you don’t know what that could be, or how it could work out for you, I can help.
If you’re thinking “I need to change my career”, and you’re ready to take the first small step towards work you love, let’s talk. Tell me what’s happening, what you’re feeling stuck on and I’ll be in touch within 48 hours with some ways that I can help YOU. Click here to fill in my quick form.