I think people often misunderstand the meaning of "career." By definition, it's an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person's life, and with opportunities for progress. The operative part of that definition is with opportunities for progress, and yet, it seems like we cut the definition of just before.
Baby boomer mentality taught us to find a job with a good company, latch on to the benefits and security of a successful business, and reap the rewards of having a steady occupation- having a career with a company. A career has not traditionally been regarded as a series of interesting jobs or a resume with employment changes listed every few years.
However, the rapid development of technology changed a lot of those pre-existing beliefs about what and how a career should be. Hundreds of start-ups rise and fall, companies merge, people branch out and innovate their own ideas. And when it comes to entrepreneurship, individuals have a significant amount of career flexibility. That's why studies have shown the benefit of changing jobs every two to four years and why careers no longer have to be static.
While job-hopping may not be for everyone, most people certainly seem to make at least one major career move during their lifetime. Whether it's for growth, a better opportunity, or simply because you've outgrown your current job, you will more than likely change up your employment at some point. So, how do you know if you're ready for a career move?
1. Your motivation dwindles.
You've stopped waking up bright eyed and bushy tailed at a slow pace, and being on time for work seems like more of a suggestion than an actual rule. That extra zeal you had to improve the work place disappears, and you're no longer jotting ideas onto sticky notes at a pace you can hardly keep up with. Instead of feeling a productive, healthy sense of stress, you feel no urgency whatsoever to complete your tasks. If you're more motivated to schedule how and when you'll use the sick days you have left than you are to schedule brainstorming sessions and content ideas, there's a problem.
2. When you are at work, you can't focus.
This happens to many people who stop finding their work challenging. After a while, the work becomes part of a mundane task routine, and it ceases to stimulate the mind. Once that happens it's harder to focus because you're bored. More often than not, boredom sets in for employees whose supervisors fail to challenge them in new ways or point them in the direction of professional growth. The result? A lot of staring at the clock wishing the hours would go by faster.
3. You spend more time day dreaming and job hunting than you do actually working.
This one should be obvious. Aside from being disrespectful to the person who's signing off on your paycheck, it shows that you're so checked out from your job that you're looking for an immediate exit. If you're so far removed from your current job that you're actively looking for another, you know it's time to go.
4. Despite being bored all day, you're exhausted when you leave work.
The body seems to say what the mind can't yet admit, especially when it comes to the sensitive factors of life (employment, relationships, etc.). Staying at a job you've checked out of can be draining, because all of your energy gets sucked into your dissatisfaction throughout the day. While all jobs certainly have their energy demands, a rewarding and satisfying job should leave you feeling accomplished and capable at the end of the day. If you love being outdoors, playing sports, or exercising, but find yourself only wanting to flop onto a couch at the end of the day, your work-life balance is out of whack.
5. Your attitude outside of work changes.
Many people who are long overdue for a career move find themselves irritable and pessimistic, especially if there's another person involved. When you come home, are you happy to share details of your day with your partner or a friend? Do you engage in conversation with them to see how their day went, too? Are you optimistic about the evening to follow your work day and confident you'll be recharged by the next morning? If you answered no to these questions without hesitating, your personal relationships could be suffering as much as your own happiness.
6. Career envy has become a problem for you.
Competition is a natural part of the human experience, and it's fair to feel the occasional, "dang, I wish I did that for a living" when reading the blog of someone who's a professional traveler or something. But if you can't celebrate a friend's promotion or congratulate a colleague who's taking a position in another city without feeling jealous, it might be because you're due for a career move yourself. Allow yourself to have the confidence and contentment within your position that you deserve, and make the move towards a job that fulfills that sentiment if you don't already have one.
7. You're no longer able to see the silver lining.
The ability to remain hopeful and positive in the face of stress and the everyday employment grind is far more important than it's made out to be. If you've gotten to a point where you can excessively bad mouth your supervisors or place of employment without flinching, then it's likely time for a career move. The deterioration of respect for your employer and absence of gratitude for the position you hold can lead to burned bridges and wasted opportunities.
Sounds like me. What now?
If these signs sound a whole lot like your work week, then it's time to do an audit of your life. Relationships, family, work, leisure-work through the areas of your life that are supposed to bring you joy, and start by identifying which actually do just that. If the source of your strife truly is your career, try and identify why. Do you like the work you do, but hate the place you do it? Does the commute make you want to pull your hair out? Is there a supervisor who makes you dread going into the office? If it's something that's reconcilable, fix it. If not, imagine what kind of work and employer would be more fulfilling, and start working in that direction.