Approximately one-third of our adult lives are spent at work. Americans spend more time working than any other task, second only to sleeping. For entrepreneurs and business owners, that time might be even greater. With work time adding up to an estimated 90,000 hours over a lifetime, job satisfaction has a substantial impact on our lives. Our work can be a fulfilling and positive experience that enriches the rest of our life—or not. We can love what we do in our work and have both a supportive, nurturing home and work environment—or not! How happy we are in our career determines, to a large extent, the quality of our life.
Whether you despise your job, have fallen out of love with your work, have a negative work environment, or answer to a “bad manager,” or you’re just ready for a change, the impact can be enormous. Yet, change is not easy, no matter the reason.
Should I Make a Career Change? Should I Change Jobs?
Thinking about changing careers or leaving a job can be intimidating and overwhelming. Choosing to make a change when nothing is pressuring you other than your own desire for more meaningful work can be a tough move to make. Wanting something different for your career life, such as an increased salary, more recognition, better work-life balance, or different opportunity, is a prompt that you are beginning to outgrow your existing situation and create the life you want.
The idea of making a change to your career and looking for a new job raises a lot of questions. Should I change jobs? How do I start a new career? Where do I begin?
Steps to Gain Clarity When Making a Big Change
The following steps will give you a starting place and help you sort through the many questions, concerns, and inner conflicts.
STEP 1: Get clear on what you want.
There’s a saying, “The clearer the vision, the stronger the compass.” Getting clear is the first step to a desired change, and this clarity may take time and patience with yourself. If all you know is that your work is unsatisfying and you are unhappy, take ample time to observe your feelings. Heighten your awareness and notice specifically the people and circumstances whenever you are unhappy. And additional time is often needed if you wish to change career fields altogether so that you can factor in a possible relocation, significant salary change, or how the career change affects your family.
Self-awareness is an essential component of emotional intelligence; it’s also crucial for discerning the direction that is best for you. Your desire for a change IS the compass’ needle pointing to your True North, so listen carefully to your inner murmurings.
Related reading: "How to Make a Change Successfully Using the Eight Keys"
Some things to think about:
- Have you experienced any change or loss personally or professionally that may be affecting your job satisfaction? If so, possibly wait until you rebound before making a job change.
- How does your current work affect your personal relationships and home life?
- What do you enjoy or dislike about your work?
- What interests you and bores you?
- What dreams do you have for your life and career?
- What are your best skills that you also enjoy?
- What does your ideal workday look like?
- What are your values and priorities? What’s needed to live them more fully?
- What are your goals personally and professionally?
- Do you have a supportive network of professional resources, friends, and family if you were to make a change? If not, how can you begin to cultivate one?
Having solid answers to the above questions will help you gain perspective. The clarity you acquire will guide you in developing a concrete plan.
Related Reading: "Are You Sabotaging Your Success? Well, Maybe Not..."
STEP 2: Design a plan to support yourself.
Once you are clear on what you want, you can begin to craft a plan. Planning is key, especially to feel confident in making a change. Maybe you need to gain some new skills before you leave your job. Perhaps you are considering changing fields and need to obtain an additional degree or supplementary training. You might uncover a dream of starting your own business, which could require writing a business plan. Or perhaps you are taking a massive pay cut to pursue a dream and need to save and budget.
Fear is one of the biggest obstacles to a career change. A well-developed and strategically executed plan can help ease the anxiety that will naturally arise. The better the plan, the safer and more confident you’ll feel in any change that you decide to make. A plan gives you solid ground to help you act while ensuring a successful transition to the right destination.
Step 3: Expect, accept, and embrace the emotions you will feel.
Even the best decisions made for all the right reasons invoke a lot of emotions. Maybe you met your best friend at work, and you’re concerned about how changing jobs will affect your relationship when you don’t see each other every day. Or you have some great benefits at your current employment that are unavailable at your new company, which might create some uneasiness. Some loss goes hand-in-hand with change.
A common and troublesome assumption is thinking that just because you feel some tough emotions that it means you are making a mistake. Not so. As mentioned before, even the best of choices will disrupt your norm. If uncomfortable feelings surface, the planning process will help sort these feelings. And even if you’ve thought through everything and have done all your homework, there still might be a few bumps that you couldn’t have anticipated. The more thoroughly you process feelings as they arise, the more prepared you’ll be for any change you choose.
Related reading: 6 Emotions You’ll Experience During a Job Change
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” ~Harriet Tubman
Be confident in the steps you have made and act when it is right for you.
Making big moves in your life takes a lot of courage. Not everyone is willing to put in the effort required to voluntarily change jobs despite being unhappy in their present jobs. Since our work is such a significant part of our lives and livelihoods, these moves should not be taken lightly. Stay encouraged: It IS possible to craft all areas of your life, including your job, in fulfilling ways. Taking time to get clear, devise a well-thought-out plan, and prepare for the emotions you will face help. Doing the groundwork will ensure that you feel more confident in your choice to take a leap and be glad that you did.
If you are considering a career or job change and need support in gaining clarity or in the planning process, it’s one of my personal favorites and specialties. Heartmanity is here to help! Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out Heartmanity for Business for more information