Circumstances: Recognizing the Signs You Need a Career Change
How do you know that you may be ready for a career break? Pamela Skillings, a successful entrepreneur, certified career coach, and the author of Escape from Corporate America: A Practical Guide to Creating the Career of Your Dreams, describes the signs that it may be your time.
1. What gets people down about working in Corporate America?
Most of us have similar gripes about bad corporate jobs—including long hours, unfair treatment, political B.S., bureaucracy, and lack of flexibility. If you feel burned out because of heavy workloads and unrelenting demands, if you’re sick of feeling like a cog in a machine and yearn to do work that is more meaningful, you’re not alone.
In today’s economic environment, corporate employees are more stressed out than ever before. Many have been overburdened with the work of their laid-off colleagues and are living in fear of the next round of cutbacks.
In other cases, people are simply in the wrong jobs—their careers kind of just happened to them like mine did for so long. And then there are those who basically like their corporate jobs, but feel like something is missing. They have some dream that they have been denying because they’re afraid it’s not realistic or they don’t know where to start.
2. What are the signs that it is time to escape?
Well, I spoke with one corporate escapee who made her decision after a senior manager threw a Lucite paperweight at her head. That’s a pretty good sign.
But for most of us, it’s a process. You have to diagnose what it is that’s making you unhappy. Are you just having a horrible week? Is there something you can do to make your current job more satisfying—like take on a new project, talk to your manager about flex time, or make more time for volunteering on weekends? Or do you really need to make a dramatic change for the sake of your mental health?
3. How can people get over the fears about leaving a job, even though they are unhappy in it?
Fear is a natural reaction when contemplating a major life change. It’s a classic case of facing the fear and doing it anyway — for the sake of your sanity. I’m not suggesting that anybody quit their job without doing some prep work to ease the financial transition. But if you’re truly unhappy, there is no better time than now to start thinking about an escape plan and doing some ground work.
If you are anxious about getting laid off, a recession may actually be the BEST time to get serious about your Career Plan B. If your company gives you an escape package (in other words, lays you off), you want to be ready to hit the ground running.
You can do most of your preparation while you’re still collecting a salary. Then, when the time is right and your safety net is in place, you can make your leap. Many of the people that I have interviewed and coached found their new careers after getting laid off during the last economic downturn. If they could succeed on their own with no preparation, imagine what you can do with a little bit of planning.
And read what Pamela has to say about the Benefits of Taking a Break Before Changing Jobs.