Hopefully you started out in your career doing something that you loved. You looked forward to going in every morning, were energized and excited by what you did, and got a lot of personal satisfaction and feelings of accomplishment from what you were getting paid to do. But over time, things change. Your skills, values and areas of expertise shift, as do your company’s needs and culture. When do you decide that it’s time to make a change, and look for a new position that will bring back your enthusiasm?
Here are a few signs that it’s probably time to start looking around for a different job, or a different company, that will bring the joy back to your work day.
Later Mornings, Earlier Evenings
When you wake up, do you look forward to getting to work, or do you look for excuses to delay your arrival time at the office? At the end of the day, do you find yourself watching the clock for when you can reasonably leave, or do you lose track of time because you’re so involved in what you’re doing? People (obviously) want to spend more time doing things they enjoy, and conversely if you’re spending less time at work it’s probably because you don’t enjoy it.
In addition to the quantitative measure of number of hours spent at work, look at the quality of the time that you do spend there. If you find it hard to keep your focus on your work, and often drift off to think (or even work on) a volunteer project or other extra-curricular activity, it could be a sign that your head (and your heart) are not where your body is.
In the past, were you the first person to put your hand up when there was a new technique to be learned, new area to investigate, or new project to get off the ground? If you’ve stopped volunteering for new things, maybe you’ve learned all you can where you are, and it’s time to move on to someplace where you can learn something new.
What Do Other People Think?
Has your supervisor or a co-worker made comments about you appearing tired, lacking enthusiasm, or how you just don’t seem to be as excited about work as you used to be? Are co-workers not coming to you for help or advice as much as they used to? They may pass it off as a joke, but people probably won’t say anything to you unless they really notice a change. While you don’t want to be paranoid, neither do you want to be surprised by a less than stellar performance review.
No job is a perfect fit, and there will always be days, or even weeks, where you don’t enjoy what you’re doing. Hopefully, the good days will outnumber the bad ones by a fair margin. But if you find yourself starting to have nothing but bad days, it may be time to re-evaluate how you feel about what you’re doing, and find a way to love it again.
Get involved in the discussion
The ACS Career Tips column is published the first week of every month in C&EN. Post your comments, follow the discussion, and suggest topics for future columns in the Career Development section of the ACS Network (www.acs.org/network-careers)._—brought to you by ACS Careers.