New Year - new job?
“This year I really must find a new job!” seems to be a mantra for lots of people at the moment. After all, mid-winter has set in and it’s even harder to stagger out of bed in the mornings… especially if the nature of your job is making you question whether you would rather be stacking shelves in the local supermarket. One friend of mine says this every year (she’s been in the same job for over a decade) but then invariably adds…"but I don’t know what else to do."
And yes… the longer you’ve been in a particular field of work, the easier it is to become stuck or complacent or ‘institutionalised’ (or all three!) and the harder to really put the time and effort into finding a better alternative: because it’s hard to contemplate breaking old ‘habits’, let alone knowing where to start.
Most of us spend a huge amount of time at work – the average full time weekly working hours in the UK being a not inconsiderable 42.7, according to recent statistics. If you add to that a commute (which in London where I live, is at least a couple of hours per working day), that’s a lot of time spent on work-related business.
It is therefore really important I think, to have your own benchmark level of job satisfaction. For the majority of us this is likely to mean a sense of productivity and purpose, our skills being put to use, having a good rapport with co-workers, a sense of being valued for the work we do, and a work-life balance (most of the time) – not to mention reasonable remuneration - all arguably being vital components for our well-being and quality of life.
So if your job is not ticking these boxes enough of the time – or indeed you’re just ready for a change, here are some ways to kick-start your thought processes into ‘new job’ mode:
1) Get clarity
First of all, conduct – on paper – a thorough audit of your current work situation. You’re dissatisfied for a reason and the more you are aware of how this offsets against the more positive aspects, the better placed you are to make your next move. Make a list of the pros and cons. Then expand on it by exploring the reasons for the less satisfactory elements: the things you can potentially do to change these, and the benefits of looking elsewhere.
2) Audit your life! Can you inject more ‘excitement’ elsewhere?
If there are things missing in your current job, can these be substituted elsewhere in your life? Your work may not be challenging or exciting enough, but could taking up a new interest, developing a new skill, planning a trip to somewhere you’ve never been or widening your social life give you a different, more stimulating focus? (and certainly something else to think about while you’re at work?!)
3) Audit your skills
What are you best at? What are you good at? The chances are these are the things you enjoy doing (the two tend to go hand in hand). Is there a skill you need to focus on and develop that might make you either enjoy your current job more, or be better placed to look elsewhere if you had greater expertise?
4) Listen to your inner voice
What do you really want to spend your time doing for a living? How realistic is this? What are the steps needed to get there? A part-time course at the same time as possibly reducing current hours? Finding ways to up your skills and experience, in readiness for alternative employment elsewhere? Or a sideways move into a more conducive environment? Get these ideas on paper and consider talking them through with a supportive friend. Finding a good coach is also an effective way of creating (and executing!) a plan of action.
5) What is holding you back?
So often this is down to apprehension or even fear. Is it fear of leaving your comfort zone, of change, that you might not be good enough..? Change can be scary – however, it’s worth remembering that your comfort zone can start to become very limiting (and uncomfortable) if you don’t begin to venture outside of it.
Finally, a tip from a man who took the quality of his work life very seriously:
I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself – “if today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today”. And whenever the answer is ‘no’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something – Steve Jobs
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