What can I do if I am so frustrated with my salary that I have lost all motivation to work? originally appeared on Quora: the knowledge-sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
When you're in your late 20s or early 30s, you've reached a critical point in your career. You've got a good amount of experience under your belt, you've been promoted a few times, and you've usually got a decent salary.
But as Stephen Covey said:
"It doesn't really matter how fast you're going if you're heading in the wrong direction."
Having the right goals in place is fundamental to successfully achieving them, and for that achievement to really contribute to your happiness and life satisfaction. So the No. 1 priority at this stage is getting clarity on what your priorities actually are!
A great way to do this is to define your personal values--getting to a list of your top three is ideal. Then ask yourself if these values are really reflected in your career and your lifestyle today. If not, you can go about setting goals that are aligned with those values, and then creating an action plan to achieve those goals.
Signs that you should move on:
- You've stopped learning and growing
If every aspect of your role starts to feel routine, if you're constantly bored and you feel you no longer have any opportunities to grow either in this role or in another role at your current company, then you'd do better to seek a new challenge. Sometimes you just need a change to shake up your existence and get you onto that steeper learning curve again.
- The positives no longer outweigh the negatives
If your salary no longer makes up for the stress and overtime, if the fun times become less and less frequent, if the interesting projects no longer compensate for the dull tasks, then you may want to look for a job where the balance is more in your favor. No job is going to be fun all of the time, but it's up to you to decide what you're willing to put up with.
- Everything is "fine"
Sometimes things are not terrible, they're just OK, fine. Is that how you want to live your life? Sort of average, things plodding along but with no passion, no excitement, no real feeling of fulfillment? Sometimes it's not a question of a major crisis but you simply feel: there must be something more to life than this. Something more than fine.
- You live for the weekends
If you're counting the days to the weekend already on Monday morning, and counting the hours until you get home as soon as you arrive in the office, then something is wrong. Yes, work can be tough sometimes, but it's also supposed to be rewarding and fun! If you hate those hours that you're spending working--whether it's four hours or 40 or more--then no amount of "life" after work is going to make up for that.
- You're getting dangerously close to burnout
We all work hard, staying late for a tight deadline, checking emails while we're on holiday, going the extra mile to deliver a perfect presentation. But if you're staying late every day, if you're constantly feeling anxious and stressed, if you're not looking after your health...that's when it might be time to take a break or find a more balanced lifestyle.
- Your values are misaligned with the company's
If you find yourself disagreeing with the overall company direction, or your boss's decisions are counter to what you believe, and fundamentally you realize that your values are not aligned with those of the company, the right thing for both you and the company will be to find a role that's a better match for what you believe in. It can be soul destroying to work for something that you don't care about or, worse, you think is wrong.
- You have a burning desire to do something else
If your gut tells you it's time to move on, if you have a passion that you've been dreaming of following for years, then now may be the time to make it a reality. Maybe you have a business idea that's clearly formed in your head, or you want to do something more creative, or you simply want to go and travel the world. This is maybe the best reason to quit, as you're not just escaping from something bad, you're escaping to something great!
Questions you can ask yourself:
- What is my current job giving me (in terms of tangible benefits, as well as things like satisfaction and growth)? What's missing?
- Where am I headed in my current role? (This is also a question for your boss.)
- What is most important for me: job security, a high salary, learning and development, managing a team, etc.?
- Where do I see myself in five years? Ten?
- What would this career change give me?
What to do next:
The next steps will depend on your reasons for wanting to change, and your answers to those questions above. You may decide that you simply need to change to a similar job in a different company, or perhaps a different industry. You may be looking to move into the nonprofit sector. Or maybe you want to start your own business. As a general guide, if you haven't already, I would advise you to do some research on what it would take for you to make that move.
Have a look at the roles that are currently being advertised: Does your profile fit the job description? Are there skills that you need to develop, courses you need to take, in order to be qualified? What books can you read about this new industry or field to get better informed? What conferences and networking events can you go to in order to connect with people who are already there?
Money is often the biggest concern for people making such a big change, especially if you're facing the prospect of a cut in your salary. If this is a worry, then it's best to sit down sooner rather than later and take a proper look at your finances. Do you need to start cutting down on your expenses to have a buffer for when you decide to quit? How long will it take you to save this amount, i.e., what deadline can you give yourself to actually quit your job?
If you're really unsure of whether the career change is the right move for you or not, or you just want some extra support from someone who is objective and unbiased, then you can also consider working with a career coach.
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