Do you remember your first day on the job? If you took this new job out of need you may have felt a sense of hope. If you took the job for career advancement, better working conditions, increased future potential, or other similar reasons, you likely felt optimism and possibility a sense of excitement. There probably was an orientation period and then a time for learning all of the required policies and procedures, along with the job requirements. Eventually a routine settled in and the reality of the job and the actual work environment becomes clear. That is a time when the reality of what is experienced is weighed against the perceived expectations.
There is a natural progression as time is spent in the position and the job remains the same, eventually grows stagnant, or evolves as new tasks or responsibilities are added paf jobs. The question then becomes a matter of whether or not it is time to change jobs, or should you wait and hope for a gradual improvement. Many people make a decision based upon their emotional reaction to circumstances or situations and that is not the optimal time to make a career decision. Instead, any decision about your current job needs to be made as part of a well-developed plan, when you are fully prepared and ready to present the best of your skills and abilities.
Develop a Career Plan First
Before making a decision about changing jobs you should assess your current career plan. What you want to avoid, for the benefit of your career, is making an impulsive or quick decision without first having a clear direction of your career path. Determine what your long-term goal is based upon factors such as a company, position, level of income, benefits, or something similar. You should also examine your current position. If you believe that your current job is not fulfilling for some reason, are you able to pinpoint why? It can be easy to state that you are dissatisfied because of personal preferences not being met, but what is the long-term view of this job and how does it align with your goals? It is also of benefit to establish short-term goals as stepping stones on the way to completion of the long-term goal. This helps to create a perspective of working towards something in incremental steps and makes the long-term future goals seem to be realistic.
When you develop a view of your career in this manner it creates positive feelings because you are being proactive and in control of your career. Once you know exactly where you are now, in relation to where you are heading, you can then ascertain if this current job still holds value, even while you experience occasional dissatisfaction or setbacks. Of course feeling negative emotions every day, whether due to working conditions or interactions with other people, can create a sense of urgency for the need to make a change. No matter what the circumstances are, establish what your plan consists of before you begin to act so your decision is well-informed. This will also help you determine if the warning signs about your job requires action.
What are You Learning Now?
With a career plan in place you can then evaluate what you have learned while you have been in this current position. Try to give yourself at least a day or two and itemize the responsibilities and tasks that have been assigned to your job, and then consider how you have grown. This serves a two-fold purpose. First, you begin to see that (hopefully) this job was not a complete waste of your time. The second aspect is that it creates a sense of appreciation and that can give you a new perspective, which may cause you to change how you feel about this job. Over time it can be easy to develop a pattern of thinking that eventually becomes a belief that does not serve you well. For example, a negative interaction with a co-worker may create a negative mindset and evolve from an adverse view of that person to the organization. The purpose of self-evaluation is to remember the value of what you are learning or still can learn from your present job.
Look for Early Warning Signs
Many people use their emotions as an indicator of whether or not they should make a job or career change. A challenge for relying on emotions is that you can feel differently from day to day, and these emotions may not reflect an accurate perspective of the job. What negative emotions can do is to cause a person’s work performance to become conditional, withdrawing effort as a means of reacting or responding to the circumstances experienced. The most important indicators to look for as early warning signs are related to your career goals. For example, are you no longer learning in your present job? Have you been in the same position for some time and do not believe there will be future opportunities available? Are you no longer learning in this position or believe you have outgrown it? Are the negative emotions experienced an indicator of an issue that cannot or will not be resolved in the long run? These are the early warning signs to look for as related to your ability to learn, grow, progress, and acquire new skills.