I knew my career was in desperate need of TLC the day my boss offered me a promotion and pay rise but all I could do was muster a deep woeful sigh.
I had been in my role as a PR Manager for more than two years and had worked very hard, day and night to secure the role after starting with the company as a Junior Consultant.
It was everything I planned for as an inspired newbie PR Graduate and my career was finally at a level I felt like I’d ‘arrived’ in the industry; invited to gala launch events, networking with key influencers around town and scoring excellent coverage for my clients, but scratch the surface and I felt like something was off.
Months would go by in the same fashion and my professional life slowly took over everything else I did, to the point where I no longer felt recognisable to myself.
Is this what I really want from life? Will the world end if I don’t secure that 5 page spread for my world-class travel client? Is this work meaningful to me anymore?
And on and on the questions went until the offer of a promotion was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
The drop I felt in the pit of my stomach was the signal I needed to be honest, not only with the Managing Director who was offering me everything I thought I wanted, but with myself.
I couldn’t stay anymore and in that second (as if almost involuntarily) I decided to inform her I needed a change and would be resigning from my position.
Fortunately my honesty and transparency with how I was feeling (I was very lucky to have a great relationship with my boss and felt comfortable letting her know how I felt) allowed me the ability to leave in a few months after I had decided what I was going to do.
If anything, this experience taught me a very important lesson: Don’t ignore your instincts, emotions and changing values when it comes to your working life.
So how do you tell the difference between just another boring day at work with the overwhelming desire to change your path?
Here are 6 signs your professional life is in need of TLC:
1. You no longer feel engaged or connected with your work
When each day merges in to the next and your routine flies via autopilot, it’s time to start thinking seriously about whether or not the work you produce holds any value to you anymore. When tasks are mundane and you don’t strive to produce your best or at least gain satisfaction from your work, it may be time to move on.
2. You no longer seek new responsibilities and/or promotions (or your request has been declined)
When your body reacts involuntarily the way mine did when presented with a new opportunity, it’s important to acknowledge your instincts and ask yourself why are you feeling this way. Could it just be that this particular opportunity is not what you had in mind, or are you more seriously feeling ill at the thought of continuing on this path?
If the thought of growing your skills and experience in a new role is the last thing on your mind, perhaps it time to contemplate more seriously what is on your mind?
This is also true if you have put your hand up for a promotion or new challenges but have been declined.
What are you dreaming of, planning or scheming in the background of your mind? Could this be a sign that where you are is no longer right for you and you can no longer deny your heart’s desire to change? If yes, get everything down on a piece of paper and ask yourself, how do I want to feel when I go to work, and how will I feel if in two years if I look back and nothing has changed?
3. You would rather be anywhere else in the world and daydream of running away
I remember this feeling well and would often drag my body out of bed as if forced to march on death row, all the while try to come up with acceptable excuses to run away and never return.
A very clear sign, I’m sure you would agree, that my job no longer held the excitement or joy it once did.
Expecting your work environment to change or that someone else would create the change you dream of is a disaster waiting to happen. If you genuinely no longer enjoy your job and don’t want to do it, it’s time to update your resume, enrol in a course or plan an exit strategy because only you can control how you feel about your professional life.
Everyone else is too busy dealing with their own career crisis.
4. You don’t feel valued
While in the example I spoke of earlier, I did feel like a valued member of the team, I have also experienced times in other organisations, when I’ve felt left out in the cold.
I would turn up to work, get the job done and go home with little or no interaction with the wider team at all. I was just another cog in the wheel with no clear path in the organisation.
To add insult to injury after a while I picked up on the fact that the projects I was given to work on reflected what my Manager knew of my previous experience, not the new career path I was looking to build for myself. I felt pigeonholed, and for want of a better term, ‘used’ because I didn’t put up a fight or challenge the assignments.
Yes, looking back I know now I should’ve handled this situation differently, made my self heard and requested different assignments, however my inability to do so was also a clear indication that I no longer cared.
When your boss has one idea for your future that differs from your own, it’s time to reconsider your place in the grand scheme of things. Are you filling a hole they have, or are you a genuinely respected and appreciated member of a larger team with a key role to play now and in the future?
5. Your values have changed
In the Career Cleanse Workbook, I talk about how our values naturally evolve as our life experiences develop, which can ultimately impact on what we search for in a meaningful career.
Never will a reason to review your career be as relevant as when you welcome children in to the mix.
After giving birth to my son at 30, the thought of going back to work full-time, working 10-hour days five days a week, was not an option for me.
I also no longer wanted to spend that much time at work, because my priorities and values had changed from career girl to Mama Bear. Work was not the be-all and end-all of my existence and I was craving a role I could leave behind at the end of the day when I switched off the computer.
As a working Mum I started looking for a job that would support my new values of a healthy work/life balance and the freedom and flexibility to work from home if I needed to.
The money, prestige and title on my business card I worked so diligently for in my 20s had lost their novelty and I knew my professional life needed a huge jolt of CPR to bring it back inline with life I wanted to live now – not the one I lived five years earlier.
6. You’re harbouring bigger dreams
Despite my successful career to date, I couldn’t deny the feeling that there was something else waiting to be unearthed. I loved writing, the online world of blogging and celebrating women who were taking charge of their own path – I just didn’t know how to turn these passions into a career.
My path to becoming a Life Coach is well documented, however the real power arrived with the realisation that I was responsible for building my own path.
As Emma Watson once said, ‘If not me, who? If not now, when?’
I instinctively knew I needed to take back the reigns of my career and build a professional path that reflected my new-found values and big-picture purpose.
Yes, I may fall flat on my face or realise the grass is not greener on the other side, but it may also just be everything I’ve always desired and I will never know if I don’t try – and I’m so glad I did.
Can you relate to these signs now, or have you experienced something else that sparked a turning point in your career? Leave a comment below as I’d love to hear how you handled it and what you do now.
If this article resonates with you, you may be interested in purchasing The Career Cleanse Workbook or contacting me to organise a 1:1 session to get your career back on track. Find out how you can work with me here for a limited time.