Your boss has pissed you off yet again. You’ve no sense of autonomy, and you feel like you’re underpaid. You are officially in a rough patch at work and don’t see how you’ll make it through with your morale intact. You find yourself asking: “Should I stay or should I go?”
If you’ve waited until this moment to think about leaving, it’s too late. The right time to think about leaving your current job is when you evaluate how your job is enhancing or detracting from your career goals. What career goals, you ask? The ones you should be developing and executing on a regular basis.
Your Job is not a Career
A career is undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life, with opportunities for progress. Often we get so consumed with our jobs that they become our identity, separate and apart from what we enjoy and would love to do on a daily basis. We forget about the long game and what we want out of our careers.
Your current job is a moment in your career – it doesn’t have to be the sum total. Take time to step back from the daily work and stop focusing on your job and look at your career.
Where are you in relationship to where you want to be when you retire?
If you don’t have career goals, you are at an disadvantage in your current job and your ability to get a new one. If you want to build goals for your career, get curious about your company and industry. What changes are on the horizon, and how would you like to be part of those changes? When you pull your head up and start looking around, it’s amazing what else you may find that interests you. Talk to people in other departments and other industries and find out what they are excited about.
Whether or not you stay at your current job, you deserve to be excited about the work that you do. Learn about what excites you and start following that path.
If you wait until you’ve had enough in your current job, your objectivity will be overrun by urgency. Make it a habit to think about what you want to do. You aren’t too busy to carve out time each week to think about the type of career you would like to build.
Tell other people
Tell people what excites you about your job, company, or industry, and tell them what you want out of your career. People are supportive when they see someone who aspires to grow. If you are in an environment that doesn’t support your desire to grow, bingo! it’s time to ask the question should I stay or should I go.
The magic in sharing your goals and desires with other people is that they can help you see options and possibilities that you may have never thought about. Think about what you want and share it with other people that you trust.
It isn’t too late
Simply because you’ve done one job for a long time, it doesn’t mean that it’s too late to invest in building your career. Vera Wang entered the fashion industry at age 40 and Julia Child didn’t write her first cookbook until the age of 50. Don’t let your perceived age influence what you think you can accomplish.
If there is one thing that I hope you get from this it’s that you should be ready to stay or leave your job at any given moment in time. Because your job is a stop on the long road of your career, you need to be ready for new options. Strive to know why an option isn’t right for you right now. That means that you know the story of why you are where you are right now and where you want to go.
Think about what you want in advance so you can recognize it when it knocks on your door.
Ask yourself “should I stay or should I go?” on a regular basis so you can analyze whether your current path is leading you toward the career you want or if it has become a diversion. Don’t wait until you feel like you have no choice to prepare to exit.
Build a career that is portable and enables you to decide the right time for you to make the next career move – a move that brings you closer to what you’ve always wanted.