If you don’t enjoy your job, you are in good company. Many people have spent plenty of their working life in jobs that weren’t fulfilling – or worse, made them downright miserable.
Whether you’re dreading Monday morning all weekend, or just have a gut feeling that perhaps you should start job hunting, here are some pointers to work through.
Here are ten really good reasons to start looking for something new.
It’s not moving you towards your goals
Start with some big picture thinking. If you know what your goals are, this one will be easier to answer, but if you don’t, take some time to work them out.
It’s perfectly okay for your professional goals to simply serve your personal goals. For example, if the most important thing in life for you is to spend time with your family, then a part-time job, or one close to home, or one with no overtime, is what you need.
But if you also have professional goals that are related to developing your career, every single position you hold needs to be moving you towards your end goal, or you’re simply wasting time (career wise).
For example, if you want to become a qualified accountant, all your positions need to involve learning, studying, and taking exams.
Be honest with yourself about what you want, personally and professionally, and decide whether your position is helping you achieve it.
Boredom – You could do it in your sleep
Unless you’re only there to make a living, and it’s convenient to your life, then this is going to leave you bored, unfulfilled, and – if you stay there too long – lacking confidence to go elsewhere.
When you spend time in a position that doesn’t stretch you (even if it stretched you initially), it’s dead space in your career. Unless there’s another good reason you need to stay put for the time being, the time for looking elsewhere is now.
If you spend too long in an easy role, it has the potential to allow you to get too comfortable, which makes it harder to push yourself into something more challenging. It can be easy to stay in the easy job, but long term, it will give you no satisfaction or pride in yourself. That’s quite a weight to carry in the long term.
It makes you absolutely miserable
No job is worth being truly unhappy for. If you’re dreading the coming week by the time the previous one ends, if you’re watching the clock all day, feeling trapped, questioning where you’re going in life, then something must change.
For some people, addressing the things they’re not happy means having an honest discussion with their manager. For others, the problem is the job itself, and the only way to fix it is by leaving.
If this is the case, it’s best to talk it through with someone you trust – a sounding board, so to speak – to help you work out what you want. Then make a plan.
List out all your possible options. For example, could you speak to a recruiter? Look for another job in the same field? Make a career change? Start your own small business, something you love, on the side? Could you invest in training for new skills? Start thinking about a viable exit strategy, depending on your circumstances. It will feel like something to work towards.
This is not your dream job
You must be realistic about your dream job. If your dream job is managing Manchester United, but you’ve never kicked a ball in anger, then you aren’t being realistic. However, if there something you regularly come back to and wish you could make a reality, then explore this in more detail.
What about the idea of a side hustle? Something you work on in your spare time, with the safety net of paid employment, and aim to grow so that you can go part-time and then eventually quit.
Not all dream jobs are that easy to bring to life but think about yours without using the word ‘can’t’. Instead of looking at the obstacles, write down what steps you’d need to take to get there. How can you tackle each one? If you have a real, burning passion for something, it could change your life to pursue it. How would you feel in five years’ time, still in the same career, looking back and thinking that if you’d started now, you might be living your dream?
You feel overworked, overwhelmed, or stressed
This happens a lot and if it is happening to you, act now. Speak to your boss. You don’t need to point fingers but explain what you’re struggling with and how it’s making you feel. “I don’t feel I have enough support now, and I’ve been struggling to keen on top of such a heavy workload for two months now. I’m starting to feel really burned out – like I can’t keep up with this much longer.”
If you do this and your boss won’t doing anything or makes excuses, then this should give you the resolve you need to look elsewhere. Make sure that when you interview somewhere else that you ask the right questions to make sure you don’t get into the same situation again.
It will leave you in a career corner
This is a situation many people find themselves in. You’ve been at the company for years and worked your way up from entry-level to middle management. The problem is, you can hit a glass ceiling, there’s nowhere for you to move upwards. The frustrating thing is that so often you can see this was going to happen but were too comfortable to do anything about it.
If this happens to you, or if you can see it happening, that’s when you need to take action. The biggest boosts to your career will generally be when you change employers, and it’s best to do this sooner rather than later.
At interview you’ll likely be asked about your job, and if you stayed there a long time, you might be assumed to be less career driven. Moreover, you’re not learning anything new in this time. The longer you leave it, the harder it will be to go elsewhere.
You’re part of the furniture
This is okay if it’s what you want, but you’re reading this article and I’m assuming it isn’t. Don’t get overlooked or taken for granted by being your employer’s ‘steady Eddy’. Discuss this one on one with your manager.
Think about what skills you need to develop and what work you could take on to assist you. Discuss doing some additional projects, shadowing or study and see whether your boss is receptive. It shows your willingness to learn and your investment in the position. If it falls on deaf ears, and things won’t change, don’t get comfortable. Look for another position with that progression potential and talk with conviction at interview about how this job has shown you that you want to achieve more.
You don’t like your boss or colleagues
Life be easier if you could pick your colleagues. It’s a cruel twist of life that you can end up spending more time with them than your real friends.
Little niggles are to be expected, and you have absolutely no guarantee you won’t have the same situation elsewhere. But if it’s really making you miserable, or it’s more sinister and there’s actual bullying going on, get yourself out of there.
You’re not appreciated for the work you do
This is one of the major reasons people start looking for a job, and I understand it completely. It’s demoralizing to work hard, do more than is expected of you, and know it goes unnoticed. You risk losing that energy and enthusiasm, putting in less effort – and that’s when the job is no longer interesting.
I genuinely believe that this one can be a good conversation with your boss. It needs to be framed in the right way. Tell them you really enjoy your work, and that you feel you’re going above the expectations on you. Say you’d love to get some feedback on your work. Ask if they value you as a team member.
This discussion should help you gauge whether the lack of appreciation was an oversight, or an unchangeable issue. If it’s the latter, it’s probably time to find a new employer who will value you.
You feel stuck in a rut and don’t know what to do
It’s so easy to just go through the motions with work. Say you’re not enjoying it, but you don’t really know what you should do. You don’t have the time or the energy or the drive to think about it when you’re at home, and every day just ticks past. You’re feeling bored, demotivated, and unsure, and getting deeper into this career rut.
If this is you, then likely the idea of confronting this problem head on is overwhelming. Instead, just do ONE thing. You can start small, too. Here are some ideas:
- Finish each day by making a to-do list for the next
- Taking the time to chat to somebody in the office each day
- Make a list of things you like and dislike about your job
The idea of this is to focus your mind on something and get the ball rolling. See what impact it has on your energy for work. Try changing up your routine to re-engage you and focus your mind.
Ask yourself why you feel like you’re in a rut? Are you bored of the work? Are you tired of this office and these people? Are you questioning whether you’re in the right career? Can you just not bear the thought of job hunting?
If you’re stuck in a rut, the important step is to understand why, and then you can start thinking about how you can address that. No action needed just now, just thinking. Once you know what’s wrong, it’s much easier to start seeing a way to fix things. It just might take a bit of soul-searching to get there.