Don’t Quit Your Day Job…Yet.
Your career is a big part of your life and If you’re working at a job that has you feeling less than fulfilled, completely drained or miserable, it could have a negative impact on your attitude and outlook.
If you find yourself waking up each morning with thoughts of “Can I call in sick today?”, “How can I leave work early?” And of course, the coup de grâce – that immediately satisfying yet subsequently terrifying option -- is “I should just quit.”
Typically, looking for a new job is the is the first conclusion we reach when our current job makes us daydream about all the other places we could be other than four walls that currently have us feeling trapped. No matter the emptiness you feel, quitting may not actually be the right answer for you – at least not yet. Instead of drafting your resignation letter or mass emailing your resume, I invite you to first reflect on some key questions:
1. What don't you like about where you are right now?
What has you feeling frustrated about your situation? Think about when you go to the doctor. If you cannot tell them what the pain is, where it is, what it feels like, and so forth, the doctor cannot help you, right? They don't know what tests to order or what treatment plan to provide. Same with your job. If you don't know why you are annoyed, the source of the frustrations, you can't formulate a solution or a plan of action. By taking just a few minutes to identify your pain points, you can open your mind to a variety of ways to address the matter at hand.
2. What would you really like to be doing at your current company?
In my experience, many people are afraid to define and ask for what they want. That or, they've thought of a project they'd like to work on, a way to better serve staff or customers, or a role they'd like to take on and they are afraid to ask their manager about what's possible. The truth is this -- if you don't ask, the answer is always no. So, try exercising a little career courage. Name that thing you'd like to be doing in your role, how it will help your company, how it will help you be a better contributor, and make your ask. You might be surprised by the response.
3. What would make you feel like your work had meaning or purpose?
Increasingly, meaning at work is becoming the new money. According to a multi-generational global study of IBM workers, 25% of Millennials, 23% of Baby Boomers and 21% of Gen Xers are actively looking for ways to make a more positive impact on the organization. Similarly, ADP found in their The Evolution of Work study, that today's workforce is more guided by the search for meaning and doing important work rather than just by earning a paycheck and benefits.
The bottom line is that meaningful work is a key driver of employee engagement and success. If you are doing or can do work that you are proud of, not only will you flourish personally, but the likelihood of you thriving at work increases exponentially, as well.
4. What steps could you take to add meaning, joy, and purpose to your work?
Now that you've done some brainstorming around what would make you feel like your work had meaning or purpose, take a moment to think about who can help you bring those ideas to life. Is it something on which you and a co-worker could partner? Is it something that you could pitch to your manager? Or perhaps an initiative was surfaced in a meeting that excited you, or you feel like leading the charge would help you make a name for yourself at your company or establish you as a thought leader. Whatever it is, don't let the opportunity pass you by. You are in the driver's seat of your career. No one is going to fight for you and your happiness at work. It's up to you to make a play for what you want.
Here's a little fun fact for you: Even if you are completely done with your current job and have no interest in trying to find deeper meaning or new avenues for fulfillment, you can use the above reflections to begin the process of defining and setting your boundaries for the next role.
When you are clear on what isn’t working about where you are right now, and what would truly bring you joy and fulfillment (and is not the path that you think you should be taking or the one someone suggested you take), you greatly increase the probability that the next role will be more closely aligned with who you are, what you need, and the desired trajectory for the next phase of your career.
Kea Meyers Duggan is a Certified Professional Coach and the founder of The Aha! Project. As a life + career makeover mentor, Kea offers coaching to badass mid-career professional women who are feeling overwhelmed, lost, and stuck in a rut. Using her unique blend of coaching and more than 19 years of corporate marketing experience, she guides her clients to have their own ‘aha!’ moment, which lights the way toward having more clarity, confidence, a sense of purpose, and a plan of action. If you are tired of trying to figure everything out on your own and are ready to get help with developing your plan of action, Kea would love to talk to you!