People change. You likely aren’t the same wide-eyed, innocent ingénue you were years ago. Perhaps you’ve found a partner to share your life with, or maybe you’ve discovered that your passions lie elsewhere. You may have even realized that you’re doing exactly what you should be, but at the wrong place. Those living with MS know that working with multiple sclerosis certainly presents its challenges. Sometimes accommodations can make it so you can work as well as you did before your diagnosis, but sometimes working at your current employer is no longer an option.
In the old days, employers and employees shared an implied loyalty, an exchange of job security and tiered benefits for a lifelong commitment. Those days are long gone. The new dynamic between employee and employer allows you more freedom to move to a new job that better suits your current lifestyle, needs and career goals. No longer does going from one company to another mark a person with a scarlet letter. In fact, it implies a level of responsibility, showing that you actively work at your career, making conscious decisions about where you want to go at every step.
So, it’s been years since you first walked through the doors of this office. You’re proud of the work you’ve done (or maybe you’re not, which is absolutely fine, as well). How do you know if it’s time to go?
1. You’ve realised this is not what you want to do.
This is a great thing! Most of life is a process of elimination. The majority of us don’t know what our dream job is. We’re unsure of what we want, but we’re POSITIVE of what we don’t. The only way to figure out your destiny is to try things and see if they’re a fit. One to two years gives you enough time to test the waters and see if this industry and line of work are for you. It’s never too late to make a change. If you enjoy what you do, it won’t feel like work, and you’ll be motivated to keep going, so don’t be afraid of a transition. Just make sure that your feelings about what it is that you do aren’t based on the place you work. Maybe the job is a perfect fit for your interests and talents, but your workplace isn’t helping you hone and develop your abilities. Take time to analyze the situation. You may very well be ready for an 180-degree career shift, or maybe you simply need a similar role at a different organization to get those juices flowing!
2. The workplace culture around you has changed.
When you first sat down at your cube 36 months ago, you loved your company. It felt like a second home, a place that both challenged you and let you be yourself, but like (and due to) people, companies change. The culture that welcomed you may no longer be, and that’s fine. Yes, looking for a new job can be a proper pain, but rest assured that there IS someplace out there that fits your personality and work habits.
3. You’re eligible for a promotion, but aren’t getting one.
With monetary cuts becoming the norm, employers are more selective about promotions than ever. You might very well deserve one, but the budget only allows for a single raise per team per year, so the one person better suited for ascension may leave you in the dust. That’s a business reality. However, don’t lose hope! Nowadays, it’s quite common for someone to look for a role that is a notch higher than their own at another company, and fairly often, that other company will bite, as every organization wants to assemble a talented team. Keep your eyes open! Just be sure that you are deserving. Ask higher-ups for feedback. Make sure that your career stagnation is indeed due to their financial strain and not your performance.
4. You’re becoming resentful of those around you.
This is an amalgam of some items above. Maybe your employer’s culture has changed, or someone else was promoted, even though you felt deserving. It’s easy to get resentful. Sometimes, taking a step back and a deep breath helps you gain some perspective and a positive outlook. After all, you’re employed, and that counts for something. However, if you feel bitter, angry, and annoyed by those surrounding you, then you might want to consider an alternate workplace where you’d click better with others and feel more appreciated. Happiness is key to producing great output!
5. Your health suffers due to work-related stress.
Whether what you do is physically or emotionally taxing, this is a moment to take pause and re-evaluate. Your default may be “I hate my job, I need to change careers.” However, don’t jump to such a conclusion. Think. Do you actually like your role’s core duties, but feel overwhelmed by the pressure of an increased workload or unrelated administrative tasks (a la Ted Chaough on Mad Men)? If your answer is yes, then figure out what would make you more relaxed. If possible, talk to your manager and see if there is a way to rearrange your responsibilities. Emphasize your health. A supervisor will be more apt to affect change if s/he realizes that you’re unwell. If s/he does not, then you know it’s time to start looking for a new job. Don’t know how to start the conversation with your boss? Living Like You blogger, Jamie Tripp Utitus, offers some tips for talking with your boss about your MS.
Most of your life is spent in the workplace, so it’s important that you feel good about what you do. After all, unhappiness at the office will bleed into other areas of your life. If you are indeed dissatisfied at work, think about what will make you happy. Staying in your current role with some adjustments could be just the thing. Leaving it all behind might be, as well. After all, your relationship with your employer is like any other. It has its ups and downs. However, all relationships come to an end. Perhaps it’s time you move on. Just make sure that you’re sure before you do.