Sooner or later, most of us have a moment where we reconsider the circumstances of life, especially our careers. In fact, according to Monster, the average individual changes jobs every 4.2 years. Making the decision to reassess careers can be scary, conflicting, and difficult; plus, there are many factors to take into consideration. Today, we explore some of those factors, and help you decide if it’s time to switch careers.
First and foremost, evaluate the source of your stressors. Is your job overly taxing, or are there other issues in your life that put you on edge? When Marie, an office coordinator was dealing with chronic insomnia, it affected her mood and stress levels. “Because I wasn’t getting enough sleep, I was irritable and foggy most days.” At a first glance, Marie thought the job she once enjoyed had taken a toll on her. However, the more she considered it, the more she realized her mood persisted outside of working hours.
There are many stressors and responsibilities in life we can’t avoid, but we can learn to manage them. “It’s like when it’s raining,” says Eric, a motivational speaker. “You can’t control the weather but you can prepare by bringing an umbrella, a rain jacket, etc.” After taking inventory of your life and circumstances, if your job is the main source of your stress, it could be a good idea to start looking around for new options.
PRO TIP: Make a pros and cons list of the categories of your life. This can include your career, relationships, extracurriculars and anything else of which you’d like to take inventory. Be honest and take your time.
Everyone finds motivation is different ways. According to Indeed, “Intrinsic motivation involves performing a task because it’s personally rewarding to you. Extrinsic motivation involves completing a task or exhibiting a behavior because of outside causes such as avoiding punishment or receiving a reward.” Pinpointing your motivational style can be a game changer in the workplace. Most people are one or the other, or possibly a combination of both. There is a chance that if you’re feeling unmotivated, your position doesn’t match with your motivational style.
“I’m a retail worker,” says Holland, the manager of a boutique. “When I worked at a big department store earning commission, I was constantly stressed. I thought retail wasn’t for me.” With time, Holland realized that it wasn’t necessarily retail that stressed her out, it was that her current company focused more on extrinsic motivation. She still works retail, but now she works on salary and finds she can focus on helping people find their perfect item rather than worrying about commission.
If there are no options or projects within your current position that align with your motivational style, there’s no harm in looking for open jobs that better fit your style.
PRO TIP: Take this Career Motivation Test to help you identify your motivation and work style. If possible, talk to your manager about new opportunities or projects that spark your personal motivational style.
Next, observe your work environment. Is it noisy? Quiet? Collaborative? Environmental factors can be key in productivity and motivation. Just like in school, we all have different learning styles and preferences for how we accomplish tasks. Some companies have open settings, where employees’ workspaces are in the same room. On the other hand, some spaces have separate offices that are separated by doors or cubicles. In a previous blog post, we discussed how different personality types function in the workspace.
Work spaces influence our personality and therefore our motivation and productivity. If an introvert is forced to collaborate with people all day, they might feel this interferes with their natural need to have quiet time to process information. Similarly, if an extrovert is forced to remain to themselves in an individual office all day, they might feel their natural ability to work with people is stifled. Of course, personalities aren’t black and white, and many people are a combination of different traits. However, knowing your personality can help you determine how you work best and under what conditions.
If you work best alone but have a job where you’re constantly around people, it’s a good idea to reevaluate. “I loved teaching, but the lack of alone time in the day burnt me out immediately,” says Jacob, a middle school teacher. “Now I tutor, and this lets me set my own schedule with breaks, plus it’s not a classroom full of people.”
If you can shift your current workspace to fit your needs and preferences, you will likely find a positive change in your motivation and work style. However, if there’s nothing you can do, try finding a new job that fits your preferences.
PRO TIP: Talk to your manager about doable changes that can increase your productivity. Even suggest a trial and agree to evaluate the results together after a set time.
Finally, the simple desire to try something new is enough. As humans, we find comfort in the familiar. And while this feeling can be nice, it doesn’t necessarily equate to wellbeing. Just like learning any basic skill, the way to improve is to move beyond the point of comfort to the next level. Your job might be fine, but if you have the yearning for a fresh start, it’s okay to look around at what’s out there. “I loved my position and the company was great,” says Leonard, an engineer. “But I was ready to expand my horizons and try something a little different.” Sometimes, the desire for change is reason enough to make one.
PRO TIP: Browse through open jobs online. See what excites/interests you. Inquire for more information if you feel the desire.