Q: I’m trying to figure out if I can stay in a job when I’m uninspired and unhappy, or if the only way to reset is to change jobs. Or is it like marriage where you can refresh your outlook without jumping ship? I think I know, but I am trying to figure out what would need to happen for me to become happy again.
Ted, 43, engineer
A: Start with your inner knowledge.
Many of us have ignored that voice only to say, “I had a feeling” later when things went south. On the other hand, your voice may be suggesting options that would not serve you.
If you are thinking you should be able to make it work, try considering a few questions:
• Do I have a pattern of staying in tough situations too long, only to have to leave under unfavorable circumstances?
• Am I clear on push points that would require me to leave sooner rather than later? List the behaviors you can’t tolerate (abuse, disrespect, etc.) on a card and then honor them.
• Do I have thoughts on changes that could make a difference? Even if they are vague, they will give you a start.
If you believe you need a clean start:
• Do I have a “cut and run” track record that has caused regrets?
• Am I clear on my requirements for a healthy and successful work life?
• Do I have a vision for what’s next? Get past “anywhere but here” or you’re at risk of running into the same set of problems somewhere else.
Look carefully at your current situation.
What are the top positive aspects? Consider the extent to which they are unique to your current situation or could be readily replaced.
Likewise, examine the negatives. Pay attention if any of them match your list of push points. Being gaslighted or berated? Consistently under-rewarded or passed over for promotion? Tolerating the intolerable will harm you, and you do not deserve that. Make a plan and move on.
Otherwise, rate them on how detrimental they really are, and also on the potential to find mitigation strategies.
Some things may be especially important to you. For example, you may feel stuck in a rut. Have you fully explored growth opportunities within your role? If your boss doesn’t know you feel stifled, he or she won’t be able to help.
There may be a lot of minor problems. While each may seem trivial, the cumulative effect can be destructive. Your day-to-day life may improve greatly if you find ways to address each in turn.
Consider what you’d advise a friend based on all this evidence. This will help you bring both compassion and detachment.
Going back to the start, what shifts do you notice? Maybe your sense of what to do has been reinforced. Or maybe these reflections have caused a more major change in your point of view.
Regardless, if you take ownership of your own success and give due consideration to next steps, you will find the right path.
What challenges do you face at work? Send your questions to Liz Reyer, a credentialed coach and president of Reyer Coaching & Consulting in Eagan. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.