This article was originally featured on Forbes.com.
Is it time to rethink your career?
It’s that point in the year when we begin to simultaneously reflect and re-imagine. It’s a good time to look back and think about how our career has gone this year and weigh up whether it’s time to move in a new direction. Here are five signs it may be time to rethink your career future and some practical tips for how to go about it.
1. You can see circles
You look back and realize you’ve done a lot more of the same and not much has changed from the start of the year. This is okay if you can see opportunity to progress in the coming year. But it can be disheartening to realize you’ve been “busy” for a year but going around in circles with no sense of real development and none on the horizon. Consider what your next positive stretch would look like and what career future would position you for that challenge.
2. Your career is a “habit”
You find yourself in a habit of your career — you do it because this is what you do, but you don’t make intentional steps or changes based on consideration of what is really important to you. Reflect on the dreams you had when you started out in this career, whether you can see them taking shape in the current path and whether those aspirations still hold meaning for you. If they do, have the courage to step out to make them a reality. Professionals change roles and career direction all the time. It can be scary and calls for wisdom in planning the steps, but consider in 10-20 years what career life you would like to look back on and build from there.
3. You’re tired — in a bad way.
Any hardworking professional knows what it is to be tired! But there’s good tired and bad tired. Good tired is when you’re exhausted from a stretch of intensive, important work but at the same time you have a buzz of satisfaction knowing you’re giving your best and it’s worth it. Then there’s bad tired. You find work draining; it’s not energizing you. It might be the content, the politics, a structural issue or just an interpersonal one. But you have seriously tried to resolve or change it and been consistently unable to. Work out what gives you energy and what you find draining. Build a career future where you can play to your strengths and find that buzz even in the intensity.
4. It’s a cultural mismatch
Organizational culture is very powerful and can work in our favor or against us. It’s certainly possible to influence and change culture at any level of the organization and is the responsibility of leaders to proactively shape it. If you’ve come to realize you work in an environment where the culture seems to clash with your strengths, ethics or values, decide whether you can shape the culture and bravely take action to do this or find a better fit. When you’re looking into new options, don’t just ask questions about the structure of the organization and the content of the role but also explore the reality of the culture. What do they value and what does that mean in practice about how they take decisions and interact both internally and externally. Research suggests that finding the right cultural fit can make a big difference in your career.
5. They don’t know why you do it
“I don’t know how she does it”, the title of Pearson’s novel and subsequent SJP movie is something that might resonate with you. People say to you, “I don’t know how you do it”. But if people close to you, who you trust and respect say, “I don’t know why you do it” and you can’t explain it in a way that they, knowing you well, can understand, it might be time to challenge yourself on why you do it. Ask them what they think would be a great fit for you, where they see your strengths and then find people who have a similar career and ask them about the reality of it. A career looks like one thing on paper but an understanding of the day-in, day-out is what you need to be able to make wise, good decisions about which step to take next.
It’s always worth being proactive where you are to see what the possibilities for change and development are. First, define what’s most important to you and not only where you see yourself positionally in five years time but also what kind of impact you’re hoping to have. What’s the difference you would like to be making in and through your field.
If you can shape the opportunities where you are with some hard-work, determination and grit, it might be the best place to be. Or perhaps you realize it’s time to move on. Either way, as you reflect and re-imagine, decide to be intentional, proactive and courageous about building your career future.
– Rebecca Newton (Read the full article on Forbes.com here).