Everyone has moments of frustration with their jobs, but if you have been consistently unhappy at your job it’s time to think about making a change. As with most important decisions in life, it’s not that simple. There are several things to take into consideration: you may not be able to find a job that pays as well as your current job, with your current credentials you may not be qualified for another role and may need to seek additional education or training to work toward the role you desire, or you might simply be struggling to muster up the energy to launch a job search.
I have been in this tough situation and I know that as unpleasant and stressful as it can be, we can make it so much harder on ourselves by self-sabotaging. We compare ourselves to our colleagues and friends, we tell ourselves to “just wait and see”, or we don’t have a definitive plan so we panic instead of doing something. As a former pro self-saboteur I know a thing or two about totally screwing yourself over while fully being aware of it and yet, feeling unable to stop. So let’s break it down and break out of this career standstill!
How you are getting in the way of your career growth and how to stop:
- Comparing yourself
Comparing yourself to your colleagues or friends is going to achieve one thing well: making you feel really shitty. Sure, maybe your former college roommate is killing it as a fancy real estate agent in LA and you know this because her Instagram feed is chock-full of images of the mansions and swanky beach homes she gets sold. And perhaps one of your coworkers is creatively brilliant, while another is a great speaker and can command a room like no other. But comparing yourself to them is useless. Everyone does better or worse than others when it comes to certain skills. What one person does poorly, you may naturally have a real talent for.
Instead of comparing yourself, think about your strengths. What can you do better than most? Perhaps that old roomie of yours is making bank in the vapid west coast real estate world but can she design a website like you? Can they, like you, skillfully compose an email to a difficult client who is complaining, yet again? Can they thrive in a team environment as well as you do? Ask yourself: What do I do better than most? And OWN those strengths!
- You convince yourself it’s okay to wait and see
“I should just wait until the next round of performance reviews.”
“I’ll hold on until after the new year and see what happens.”
“A lot of things could change, you never know.”
If you find yourself saying these things in order to convince yourself to stay in your wretched job, you are in denial. The last thing you want to do in this situation is play the waiting game! When it comes to our careers we cannot drag our feet in the hope that other people will come along and make everything okay. I know that working a full time job that is absolutely eviscerating your energy and morale only to go home to meticulously tweak your resume and scour the internet for open positions, is exhausting. But it is a part of the process, whether you are a painter or a software engineer you have to actively put yourself out there, market yourself, and straight up hustle in order to land a dream gig. (Also as an aside can we just accept that your dream gig today will probably not be your dream gig in 5 years, and that it’s totally fine because evolving and learning is important!) Please do not wait for anyone to just pop out of the ether and offer you a great job if you haven’t put in the time and energy!
When is waiting it out a good tactic?: if it’s part of a larger strategy like saving up enough money to start your own business, or waiting to graduate from your masters program, or waiting on more funding so your company can create the roles you really want to do (in the case of startups). Otherwise, it’s just a waste of time, and if you stick to the waiting game long enough it will become a way of life and nothing will ever change.
- You don’t know what to do next
It’s really hard to get what you want when you don’t know what it is you want. It can be scary and stressful especially when you find yourself ready to leave your job in order to save your sanity/dignity yet aren’t sure what to do next. When you don’t know what you want, it seems like the only option is to stay where you are until the answer appears, regardless of how trapped it might make you feel.
There are limitless options but maybe you just don’t feel particularly committed to any of them because you can’t see them individually, they all seem to be lumped into this one massive cancerous decision growth that just keeps growing the more you think about it threatening to crush you.
Don’t get crushed! Start asking yourself some questions. Is it the job itself (your role in the company) or the company culture/work environment? Would you be better off in a new city? Maybe you want to spend more of your time with people, have better flexibility in your hours. I don’t think the level of clarity matters a whole lot. What matters is being able to ask some tough questions and being confident enough to go for it!