Twenty-somethings go through an average of seven jobs, more job changes than in any other stretch of life (The New York Times). So often, we hear people tell us that we have no sense of direction or commitment. But for those of us who don’t have degrees that lend themselves to pre-determined career paths (medicine, law, etc.), or for those of us who don’t have degrees at all, it might take some experimenting to get it right.
Careers are evolving, especially for women. We’re no longer limited to being a secretary, nurse or teacher (though all are honorable occupations.) With some exceptions, the options seem endless.
So how do we know when and where to focus our energy? How do we know when it’s time to make a change? Making a career move can be one of the most difficult decisions, especially in this economy. Having a job is hard enough, but having one and considering finding a different one can feel terrifying. Here are two key signs that indicate now is the right time.
You consistently feel depleted at the end of the day.
Do you come home from work and feel as though the only thing you’re capable of doing is sitting on the couch and watching television until it’s time to sleep? Does your job drain and zap every ounce of your creativity and originality and leave you with nothing in return?
If you’ve lost your spark, despite giving your best and attempting to make the most out of your current job, this is a tell-tale sign that you’re either not with the right company or not in the right field. Ideally, our careers should reflect our authentic selves and our purpose (and as T.D. Jakes says, if you have life, you have purpose.)
We don’t always know what our purpose is, but sometimes you figure it out by process of elimination. If you do something and don’t receive any fulfillment from it, you can take pride in having tried, and then cross it off your list with certainty. Alexia Vernon, author of Awaken Your CAREERpreneur: A Holistic Road Map to Climb from Your Calling to Your Career, says every opportunity should “enable [you] to align [your] values, strengths, resources, and enthusiasms.” You’ll know you’re getting closer when you feel alive, useful, genuinely passionate and challenged by the work, which leads me to the next sign…
You don’t feel challenged anymore.
In other words: you’re bored and your job no longer stimulates you. This isn’t to say you should run because you have to do the grunt work. Everyone has to start somewhere and for most people, that’s at the bottom making coffee runs, answering phones and scheduling appointments. If we enter the workforce feeling entitled, we’ll stay at the bottom even longer than we would if we just embraced this fact.
Starting at the bottom has its benefits, like allowing you to observe your boss(es), managers and co-workers and learn the ins and outs. You can use the time to build your skill-set and knowledge and become a valuable asset to your company.
However, after dedicating yourself to the grunt work and giving it your all for some time, moving up is the next progression. No longer feeling challenged or having the opportunity to learn new things is a good sign you’re ready. Most times, the next step involves a promotion within, however for some, there are no opportunities for growth in their current company.
Alexia Vernon advises:
“When you choose fear and don’t push through discomfort…you fail to deliver on your full potential and you ensure that the universe is going to keep throwing the source of your fear back at you until you make a braver choice.”
Don’t settle for the familiar and stay stuck. Know your own worth by knowing when you’ve outgrown the space you’re in.
Leaving a job is a complex decision that involves many factors outside of our control. But as women, we can feel empowered by knowing that we don’t have to settle for certain jobs anymore. We don’t have to invest ourselves and our energy in careers and companies that don’t do the same for us. We can pave our own paths and keep trying until we find our stride.