Time to go – those words rang through my head when I caught up with a work-friend I hadn’t seen in years, when she told me about her job.
It all came back to me, the dreadful soul-sucking heaviness when my old job became absolute drudgery.
Looking back, I knew in my heart it was time to go but I continued to persevere, pushing myself to do work that wasn’t ‘me’. I told myself that it was a good job with good pay so I’d be crazy to think about leaving …it even had a pension, and who leaves that at my age!
That is her situation too; she is suffering in a job that no longer serves her and she feels so stuck.
What About You?
It seemed so obvious to me as I saw my friend pushing herself to continue. I saw how weary she was that day, even though she just took a vacation.
Others can see it, even when you can’t. Your family, your friends – they know you are not OK and they worry, especially as we’ve all heard what stress can do.
The thing is, when you are doing unbearable work, a job that doesn’t make you feel valued or are working for a bad boss you shut down after awhile.
So let me be clear if this is happening to you….It. Is. Time. For. You. To. GO!!!
Plan to Get Out!
You may be thinking, easy for you to say Elaine, you don’t have three kids going through private school, one needing braces, a mortgage coming up for renewal [enter all of the other ‘what gets in the way of you making a change’].
I get it, timing will never seem right, but let me tell you something – you are no good to anyone else when you are miserable.
In fact, if you don’t make a change for the better, your body has this way of forcing you to slow down or taking time off, whether you like it or not –and yes it shows up as illnesses and injuries!
Pay close attention to the warning signs of stress to avoid becoming one of those heart attack statistics; this is no joking matter.
So, let’s look at what you can do right now to begin your exit strategy!
1. What If?
Remember when you were a kid; you were filled with limitless possibilities. Children naturally dream of all the things they CAN DO, it never occurs to them to squash those ideas and dreams! Yet as an adult we seem to shut down dreams so often that they just stop coming.
I tell my clients to set aside a few minutes every day where you allow yourself unfiltered imagination and take time just to dream. How you spend that time is up to you. It could be writing in a journal, sipping a perfect cappuccino or it might be walking on the treadmill – doesn’t matter how. This was a game changer for me – I took up painting and did a little each day and my mind exploded with possibilities!
What is important, is to allow your mind to be future-focused without filters. Ask yourself what if I did this, or that, and what else is possible? No bashing down any ideas, don’t try to justify them, just let them flow, no matter how elaborate or crazy they may seem. Just let your imagination of ‘what if’s’ open up again.
2. Give Me A Fricken Break, I’m Worth It!
When work became really stress filled for me, I knuckled down. I put my shoulder into it and pushed harder, believing that I could make it better by hard work. WRONG!
It may be how I was raised; you know...don’t give up! The old adage when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. Yah no, please don’t be like me! That is total BS.
Instead I want you to do the exact opposite! You see, you can’t consider options if you don’t allow yourself to take a break from the grind. Slow down, book coffees and lunches with people who ‘get you’ – by booking them, you will force yourself to make the time and build some support.
Talk to them candidly that you are taking some breaks because work is really getting to you. Remember, they likely already know, and chances are they will be happy to encourage you to take back some time for yourself.
3. What Are My Super Powers
I’ve mentioned this before. I received the greatest renewed perspective of myself, by asking people (some I had worked with long ago) ‘What did they remember most about working with me?’ I deliberately sought out people who I knew would be candid and truthful.
WOW! It was that very insightful feedback became a huge impetus to taking my next step!
What I learned, was that the impressions I left with others – like years ago - were actually consistent themes over many years. This wasn’t fluffy feedback! It was deep and meaningful context for how I made an impact and what I was known for (my brand…aka my super powers).
So reach out to people who will candidly share their recollections about YOU. The themes will emerge and you’ll discover the attributes that make you unique!
4. What Else Can I Be Good At?
If you’re like I was, then the job you are stuck in is not playing to your greatest strengths. In fact, it is likely much the opposite.
Take stock here, what would you rather be doing? I want you to think really practically here. This can be tough to do on your own, consider talking it out with a friend or confidante (or a coach).
What are you extraordinary at – what do you do better than many other people? What work/job or company uses or needs that very strength?
Hint: check for clues in the super power feedback.
5. Does My Resume Truly Reflect The Real Me?
Not everybody will be able to start their own business but everyone can use the same process I did for reimagining what the next gig should be.
Armed with the information you revealed through the steps above (1-4) I am confident the right options and/or roles, or even company for a better fit, will become clearer.
Now, consider what changes you need to make to your resume to ensure it reflects the capabilities you have for THAT right fit!
First, reflect on the most ideal job, then:
6. Who Can I Connect With In My Network?
So now you have inklings of the kind of work you really want. You’ve acknowledged that you are not the right place. You’ve begun taking breaks to release the stress. You’ve learned that you are pretty damn awesome BUT you definitely need to make a change that fits you better. You’ve also got a great start on a new resume and a renewed sense of direction.
The next step is to get out and start telling others what you are looking for!! Don’t narrow it to a job title, instead share a list of the kind of work you are great at and love to do.
When I say ‘network’, I mean everyone. It’s not to peddle your resume to, instead it is to connect personally, talk about the skills you want to use and ask others for ideas on jobs and companies they know you’d be a good fit for.
It still amazes me how connecting with people starts a cascade of serendipitous opportunities.
YOU Are Worth Making A Change!
You may find your next move doesn’t need to be drastic, it may be just a different position in the same company that will suit you better. It might be returning to something you did before!
Decide that you are worth making a change! Getting out of that work environment will lighten your life; improve not only your own quality of life but the lives of everyone who cares about you as well!
As I told my friend, the things you’ve been telling yourself about persevering and putting up with this job, is just fear of change. Fear is what holds us back to make a move.
It is times like this that a coach can be hugely valuable. Someone to be a sounding board, who can remain objective but also hold you accountable to be true to yourself!
Taking steps to re-imagine your future will unlock all sorts of opportunities. You just have to start. Drop me a note if you need a coach to get over the fear of change or need someone to guide you on the road to success!
Photo Credit - CC0 Pixabay
Elaine Adamson is a leadership consultant with Dots Leadership Solutions Inc. A natural dot connector. Passionate about coaching team effectiveness and leadership development she shares over 25+ years of real-life tips and tricks that really work!
Elaine believes you can discover and leverage strengths to forge a strong team dynamic despite business challenges or organizational change.