The world is our oyster, or so we’re told. Most of us in our thirties who have been in employment for a while will know the feeling of having been in a job for a year – the job which you have always known from day one was a stepping stone on to the next, bigger, better thing. The thing where you’ll either be doing more of what you want, or getting more of what you want.
I get itchy feet pretty easily. The longest I’ve ever stayed in a job is 16 months, and that was my last post at the Department for Education. The only reason I left was because I knew I was capable of more, and I was ready for it. I liked most things about it, but definitely felt able to move up and think more about bigger picture stuff.
My mistake was that, while I gave myself a little more in the ‘Responsibility‘ and ‘Salary‘ columns, I lost a similar amount of ground in the ‘Values‘ and ‘Interest‘ columns. Enough to really make me question how long I would stay there.
Of course, one can never really know the extent to which these factors will change before one makes the move. I do like this self-coaching tool for analysing how you really feel at work, which has helped me to assess whether I am genuinely ready to move on, or if there are things I can change in my current role without uprooting.
Rate the following areas of your work life out of 10:
Look at what’s lowest – it might help you identify how to change things. I learned to deal with a difficult manager using this tool when I realised that I needed to change my approach towards him. I also identified when I needed to start looking for a promotion. Right now, mine looks like this:
As you can see, with interests and values being so low, I can’t really do much about that here, though this is hardly grounds for bolting to the door either – particularly as I feel as though I’m still developing and being well supported/mentored.
The next question to ask oneself is: which of those things are in my gift to change? Which require a conversation with my manager? And which are symptomatic of a wider issue that might be more difficult to change? Can I find ways to work around it, or make my peace? Or do I need to make bigger changes?
It’s then possible to reassess using this tool over time and get a better sense of whether you’re just ‘having a bad day/week/month’ (and try to reassess on a different weekday, so you’re not always doing it on Wednesday morning).
My next step needs to follow my heart, morals, and vision, but while aiming not to lose any of the great things I’ve managed to find.
And again, another consideration is: will you ever be happy in your work life? I know that my passion is writing and performing – I may never fully find fulfilment through career alone. Are there things you need to change in your personal life? (There are tools for that, too – this was based on the ‘wheel of life’ happiness tool, which is a good place to start.)
Best of luck to all those reprocessing their next steps in their career!