Help, I’m trapped!
For most of us, our job is central to our life. It’s what we do for 8 hours or more a day. It’s no wonder that it has such a strong relationship to our overall happiness and well-being. Add to that the fact that most of us need a job to financially survive, and it’s easy to see how we can feel trapped by our job if it’s not fulfilling us mentally and emotionally.
So when is it time to change jobs?
Is it affecting my mental health?
If you’re struggling mentally because of your job, that’s a big red flag. Consider your mood and journal it weekly. Think about how you feel each Sunday night. Are you dreading the new work week? Do you feel anxious about going into the office? Your mental health is too important to allow to deteriorate because of a job.
If most of your emotional struggles come down to the people, stress or amount of work you have, then start looking for a new role now. The longer you take to change jobs the more you’ll suffer in the meantime.
Is there hope for change in your current role?
If you’re unhappy in your current role, a key question will be to decide if there is any hope of your happiness improving if you stay in the current company.
Are you bored, but there’s no prospects of a new challenge on the horizon. Are you overdue for a promotion but there are no open roles above you and no one is likely to move on soon. Are you simply undervalued and being overlooked for any better opportunities with your current employer? If you’re not sure, be honest with your boss, if you trust them, and get some clear feedback around what the firm has in mind for your career progression.
Write down the pro’s and con’s
It’s easier to achieve clarity around a decision when you know exactly what you’re dealing with.
Do you have issues with people at work, if so who exactly? Is it a company wide culture problem? Is staff morale low generally? Is there anything you enjoy about your role? If you found a new role in your field is it likely to have the same pro’s and con’s? What pro’s could you give up in order to reduce the con’s. Is it really that bad or do you just feel like a change?
Here’s a few things to keep in mind. There’ll always be one or two people you don’t get on with or find difficult in any workplace, you’ll need to know how best to handle them whatever company you work for. Issues with company policies and culture, and low staff morale, they are much longer term fixes and usually outside of your control. Even if a company is genuinely trying to fix those problems, it’s unlikely to happen within 6 -12 months and sometimes it never improves.
If it’s your immediate boss that is making your work life difficult for you and he or she is unlikely to move on or change the way they manage, then you really do need to look for another role.
What do you value most?
Know what you want. Do you want a cruisy job that’s easy for you to do, sometimes is a little boring but otherwise is comfortable? If so, and your current job is a lot of work and a lot of stress, then maybe it’s not for you, at least in this stage of your life.
Alternatively if you’re upwardly mobile and trying to shoot the lights out on your career, then you’ll want to move for career progression and you probably won’t look at staying at any job for more than a year or two unless the employer is promoting you really regularly.
It doesn’t all come down to money but it is a factor. Sometimes you just won’t get any significant pay rise until you change jobs. You may get an annual pay rise between 2 – 5% each year in your current role (but that’s not even guaranteed), but if you changed jobs you might immediately go up 10% – 15%, that’s not uncommon.
So, protect your mental health, know what you want out of a job and assess the likelihood of improvement in your current company. If you can’t change what you don’t like and the prospect of the company being able to change what is making you feel trapped is small, then you know it’s time to look for greener pastures. You might find the perfect job is much easier to find than you think.