That post-college struggle to find your place, find a role that suits your unique skill set, is over. You’ve landed a job, nay a career that on paper seems ideal. There’s just one tiny, niggling problem: It doesn’t feel right. You try to kid yourself. You lie in bed at night wondering if there’s something innately wrong with you. Perhaps you need to suck it up and just get on with it, however hellish it may be. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s time to make a career change.
Sure, taking that leap out into the great unknown is nothing short of terrifying. The idea of leaving everything you’ve worked for to start anew may send shivers down your spine. Still, it could very well be just what you need. If you’ve noticed any of the six following signs, it might be the only way to ensure your health and happiness.
1. You Want to Progress, But it Seems Unlikely
People may tell you that having a hunger for success is nothing more than your ego begging to be fed. That’s utter nonsense. It’s human nature to want to move forward and tackle new obstacles. Stagnating in the same role, completing the same dull daily tasks, getting the same salary — all of that monotony is bound to bring you down.
Landing a job is not merely about the short-term. You have to consider your long-term prospects. If you’re in a company or field where you’re unlikely to progress, frankly, it means that you have nowhere to go. You can keep toiling away day after day, but to what end? Finding yourself in this unfavorable situation, the only logical course of action is to switch direction and seek out a career where you have room to grow.
2. Your Boss is Toxic and Narcissistic
While we all like to jest about our horrible bosses over a few glasses of vino, there’s a difference between disliking your employer and them having a genuinely negative impact on your life. Whether we like to admit it or not, our managers dictate so much of our lives, from when we take lunch to how we manage our workload. If you have a boss who is nothing short of toxic, it could be detrimental to your job satisfaction and your health.
In fact, this very year, the British Psychological Society reported that people working for people with “negative traits” had a lower sense of job satisfaction and were more likely to suffer from clinical depression. “Those high in psychopathy and narcissism have a strong desire for power and often lack empathy. This toxic combination can result in these individuals taking advantage of others, taking credit for their work, being overly critical, and generally behaving aggressively,” explained Abigail Phillips, the lead researcher on the study. Remember, no one should have to put up with bullying at work, no matter how much they want the role. Do something about the problem and, if you can’t change it, walk away.
3. You Feel That Your Job Has No Meaning
Let me pose a simple question here: Do you feel that your job has meaning? When you don your best suit, grab a coffee, and head out to work, do you feel that you’re making a small difference in the world? Few people take the time to contemplate whether their role holds any significance to them, but perhaps they should. If you’re in a career that lacks this fundamental thing, you could find that it’s ultimately very unsatisfying.
A recent paper published by the Institute for Employment Studies looked at the value of creating meaning within the workplace. One of the major things that the paper noted was the impact that this meaning had on a person’s self-worth and overall life experience. In short, feeling that you’re doing a job that simply has no purpose can make you feel worthless on the whole. If for whatever reason, you’ve found yourself stuck in a rut in your career and have the sense that your work lacks meaning, it’s time to find something that fulfils you instead.
4. You Find it Hard to Switch Off From Work
The fact that we all live on our smartphones and have a constant connection to the outside world means that switching off has become harder than ever. Whether it’s your boss emailing you out of hours to query something or a client calling you on your personal cell, these little interruptions could be more harmful than you imagine.
It’s more than mere rumor that constant communication can affect your well-being. In fact, there have been many studies which back up this theory. For example, according to a recent study from Kansas State University, detaching from work when you come home is essential to your work life balance. “If there are any unpleasant text messages or emails from work-related people, you may be more likely to ruminate about work-related issues or worries. It will affect your feelings and behaviors at home, which could further influence people at home,” explained YoungAh Park, assistant professor of psychology.
But wait, what if you work in a role that requires you to be “on call” around the clock? Doctors, lawyers, and even journalists often have to adhere to this way of life. If you find that this obligation is affecting your life and your social relationships, changing careers may not be such a bad idea. The fact of the matter is that there’s more to life than simply chasing your so-called dream job, and you also have to consider your mental well-being.
5. You’re Working Ridiculously Long Hours
Just as some roles demand that you’re “on call,” there are others that require epically long working hours. Shift work is very common in many professions, but that’s not to say that it’s particularly healthy. If your current career means that you have to work beyond the normal working hours, you might want to think about whether it’s actually worth your time.
It’s not just the fact that this intense style of work impacts your life; there’s also the health impact it has on you. Last year, a study by Ohio State University found that women who work 60 hours or more over the course of 30 years triple their risk of serious illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer. Yes, you could be putting your health at risk by agreeing to overtime and generally long working days.
If you’re in a role where you have to put in these sorts of hours just to compete, it’s not a healthy lifestyle. The stress, both mental and physical, that you’re putting yourself under here is not worth any career you could be chasing. While switching to a less demanding job role may seem like an easy out, it could be the very best thing for your health. And, in the end, that’s the most valuable thing of all.