As we work through the entry level, most of us evaluate the quality of our jobs based on an assessment of the future. At the earliest stage of our professional careers, our visual field is fixed just a few years ahead of where we’re currently standing, and we can endure an abusive boss, low pay, an 80 hour workweek, or a two hour commute, because these feel like minor and temporary obstacles standing between ourselves and our long term goals. The thought process works something like this: “Sure I’m unhappy NOW, but I’m doing this so that three years from now, I can (fill in the blank). At the end of the day, I feel a sense of reward and accomplishment, not hopelessness or frustration.”
But by the middle of our working lives, this statement can begin to sound hollow. Three years have come and gone, then another three, and we’re still struggling to lay the groundwork for a brilliant future that hasn’t yet appeared on the horizon. If this describes your relationship with your job, it may be time for a re-evaluation. If you can check off every item on the list below, you’re on the right track. If not, consider pivoting in a new direction.
1. You’re not waiting for your ship to come in.
Are you sitting in metaphorical waiting room, just passing the time until your name is called? Are you completing the same tasks over and over each day without growing, changing, or learning anything new? Are you buying lottery tickets every week, assuming that a set of winning numbers will be your only ticket out of your current routine and into something different? If you’re on track, each year should feel different than the last, and your responsibilities and salary should be increasing and keeping pace with your expanding skill sets.
2. You’re not waiting to use your real talents.
You started working for this company because you’re a talented artist/analyst/public speaker/etc, etc, and you thought this job would allow you to leverage your unique abilities. But if a few years have passed and you’re still waiting for that to happen, then it’s time to move on.
3. You’re getting enough sleep to stay mentally and physically healthy.
If your career is on track, then you’re living, not just surviving. Which means you have enough time during the day to eat healthy food, exercise, spend time with the people you care about, and sleep at least six to eight hours every night. If your lifestyle is sustainable, you can tell. If it isn’t, make some changes.
4. You like who you are (which means you’re proud of what you do.)
Even if your job is just a job, there’s a certain dignity in working for living to create something, sell something, or provide a service that makes the world better, not worse. If you enjoy talking about what you do and you’re proud to be associated with your employer, then you’re in the right place.
5. Revise your resume and start moving forward
If you can clearly see the path that lies ahead, and you know what will happen when you reach each milestone, then you’re on track to a fulfilling lifelong relationship with your work. On the other hand, if you’re holding your breath hoping for divine intervention to save you from your current circumstances, then it’s time to take control. Visit MyPerfectResume for job search guidance and application templates that can help you get moving.