Changing jobs can be exciting.
But it can also be stressful. You have to create relationships with a new boss and new co-workers. You have to learn how to navigate new agendas, new political "structures," and a new company culture. You have to determine what qualities and achievements are valued, and then develop those qualities and achieve those things.
Which is why many people stay in a job they don't particularly like. Better the devil you know, right?
Don't settle for going home every day feeling unfulfilled. Don't settle for working for a terrible boss. Don't settle for leaving work every day feeling taken for granted or for being treated with a lack of respect or dignity.
Regardless of the path you take, take steps to be as fulfilled and happy as you can possibly be, professionally and personally.
Especially if you answer yes to some or all of the following.
1. "Is my work schedule making me sick?"
According to the results of a recent study of 28,000 food service and retail workers at some of the largest firms in the U.S., "Routine uncertainty in work schedules is even more strongly predictive of worker health and well-being than hourly wages."
In fact, scheduling practices often matter more than relative rates of pay: The study reveals a strong correlation between scheduling practices and employee levels of happiness, stress, and quality of sleep. Employees who work full or partially on-call schedules were much less likely to report feeling happy and were more likely to sleep poorly. Employees whose shifts were canceled were much more likely to experience greater feelings of distress.
Sometimes a particular schedule is inherent to the industry or the company. I worked rotating shifts for over a decade. I should have found a job with a better schedule, even if it meant less pay.
I would have been a lot happier.
2. "Am I criticized publicly?"
We all need constructive feedback. We all need a little nudge. We all need to be told when we can do something better -- and how to do it better.
But we need to be told those things in private.
No one should have to walk around wondering when they will be criticized, or even humiliated, in front of other people.
3. "Does my boss only manage up?"
You know the type: As a leader, she should focus her time and attention on her direct reports, but she spends all her time "following" her boss. It seems like your only job is to contribute to the greater glory -- and advancement -- of your boss.
A great boss knows that if her team succeeds -- and each individual on that team succeeds -- then she will succeed, too.
No one should be required to advance their boss's career at the expense of their own.
4. "Is my commute longer than 45 minutes?"
Since the person you marry makes a huge difference in your happiness and even your career and earning power (but possibly not in the way that you might think), maintaining a great relationship is incredibly important.
But that's hard to do if one of your commutes is relatively long. According to at least one study, if one spouse commutes longer than 45 minutes, you are 40 percent more likely to get divorced.
And if that's not reason enough to look for a job closer to home, consider all the hours you waste commuting that you could spend a lot more productively.
5. "Do I never think, 'I get to ...' ?"
Loving your work is like peeling an onion: There are always more layers to discover and explore. When you hate your work it's also like peeling an onion -- but all you discover are more tears.
While even the best jobs involve times when you feel like you have to do certain things, at least some of the time you feel like you get to do things. (There's a huge difference.)
No amount of money is worth spending significant time avoiding the things you don't want to do.
6. "Is my input basically ignored?"
Everyone has ideas. And everyone loves when his or her ideas are taken seriously and implemented.
The feeling that you've contributed in a special way is incredibly gratifying.
But when your boss or company shoots down or even laughs at your ideas, it's not just insulting, it's also de-motivating. And pretty soon you stop caring.
Fulfillment starts with caring.
7. "Have I stopped volunteering?"
Doing more is an opportunity: to learn, to impress, to gain skills, to build new relationships -- to do something more than you would otherwise been able to do.
So if you aren't volunteering for projects, or teams, or to learn a new skill, that means you don't see the point.
Don't stay in a job where you just don't see the point.
8. "Do I almost never hear, 'Thank you'?"
Everyone also needs praise. We all need to know when we do something well (and everyone, even a poor performer, does some things well).
All of us deserve to be recognized for the contributions we make.
9. "Have I stopped feeling a sense of purpose?"
We all like to feel a part of something bigger than ourselves. We all like to feel we have an impact, not just on results, but also on the lives of other people.
If you go home every day feeling like you've worked, but you haven't accomplished anything meaningful, it's time to find a new job.
10. "Do I feel like a number?"
Everyone works for a paycheck. But everyone also wants to work for more than a paycheck. We want to work with people we respect and admire -- and we want to be respected and admired in return.
If your boss doesn't occasionally stop for a quick discussion about family, an informal conversation to see if you need any help, or simply to say a kind word, that means you're just a number.
While we're all replaceable, we should never be treated that way.
11. "Do I rarely look forward to work?"
Every job has its downsides. (I'm willing to bet even Sir Richard has to do a few things he doesn't enjoy.)
But every job should also have some fun moments. Or exciting moments. Or challenging moments. Or some aspect that makes you think, "I'm looking forward to doing that."
Don't let the only thing you look forward to be the end of the workday.
12. "Do I feel stuck?"
Every job should lead to something--hopefully a promotion, but if not, the opportunity to take on additional responsibilities, to learn new things, to tackle new challenges.
Tomorrow should always have the potential to be better than today.
13. "Is my financial future capped?"
Work for a salary and no matter how well you perform, you can make only that salary. Work for someone else and you can only earn what it's decided you're "worth."
Work for yourself and your earnings are limited only by your creativity, drive, perseverance, and talent.
Money isn't everything, but if you have to work, don't you want that work to pay off to the greatest extent possible?
Find out what you're really worth -- financially, sure, but also in terms of your ability to make a difference in other people's lives.
14. "Have I settled?"
Maybe you think, "I make too much in my current job; I'll never find something comparable." Or, "There just aren't any jobs where I live." Or, "I've put too much time into this company (or career or industry)."
Or, "I don't have what it takes to start my own business."
All those things are true.
If you let them be true.
You can do something else. You can do lots of something "elses."
You just have to believe -- and trust that your creativity, perseverance, and effort will take you to new, happier, and more fulfilling places.
For example, thousands of people start their own businesses ever year. The only difference between you and them? They decided to take a chance and bet on themselves.
You can, too.
Bet on yourself. Take less than you think you're worth. Do a little work for free just to prove how talented, how capable, and how skilled you really are.
Seize the opportunity to change your life. Then you not only can show what you can do; you can also prove what your skills, talent, and expertise are truly worth.
And best of all, life a happier, more fulfilled life: The life you deserve.