Are you dreading Monday mornings? Do you come home from work tired and cranky? Does your job make you feel bored, overwhelmed, uninspired, frustrated or just plain stuck? These are just a few of the signs that it might be time for a career change, but there are other signs to pay close attention to.

 

You feel “stuck.”

Are you feeling lost or directionless in your career? Wanting “something more” or craving new challenges can often signal time for a change.

 

Your self-esteem is taking a hit.

Whether you’ve been passed over for a promotion or your ideas are repeatedly ignored at team meetings, what happens at work can have a serious impact on your self-esteem. Imagine what it would feel like to be appreciated, to have a sense of belonging and to see your own unique talents shining through.

 

You’re jealous of people who love their jobs.

Do you feel envious when your friends or family members talk about their jobs? If so, why? Exploring what you feel you’re missing is the first step in making a career change.

 

You’re always tired.

Boredom, stress and unhappiness tap away at your energy.  If you are feeling tired and “out of it” at work on a fairly regular basis, it might be your body’s way of telling you you’re ready for a career change.

 

Your heart’s not in it.

Perhaps your job lacks creativity or doesn’t reward initiative. Perhaps it has simply become too predictable. A career change that taps into your passions will get you out of the doldrums and into a job that’s a better fit for you.

 

Every job has its ups and downs, but gratifying work will inspire and motivate you to overcome challenges, leaving you with a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment.

The role of a manager is to create a positive, productive environment that serves and supports team members.  It doesn’t need extraordinary effort or expense.  The little extra time it takes makes the results worth it.

Here are some simple ways to make your employees feel valued at work:

 

SHOW GRATITUDE

People want to feel appreciated for what they do, especially by their manager because their praise feels relevant and lets employees know they’re on the right track. You can do this by clearly stating what your team member did well, how it relates to their strengths and how it helps the organization.  Also, saying it more often than you think helps.

Although verbal praise is easy and quick, a handwritten note goes a long way to drive the point home.  It demonstrates to the employee that they are worth your time.

 

PROVIDE LEARNING AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES

The best bosses look for ways to enhance their team members’ growth with external professional development opportunities, such as attending industry conferences, joining a professional association, or gaining a certification.

Don’t forget: Plenty of professional growth and learning opportunities exist within your organization, too. You can take your direct report to coffee to talk about their career goals or introduce that employee to another senior leader in the organization for a mentoring chat.

When you personally participate in your employees’ learning and professional growth, you show you believe in them and want to help prepare them for their future success.

 

CARE ABOUT YOUR TEAM MEMBERS AS PEOPLE

Don’t fall prey to believing conversations about extracurricular activities interferes with your lengthy to-do list.

Simply asking them about their weekends, their families, and their hobbies—and sharing tidbits about my own— builds trusting relationships. When you better understand their experiences outside the office, it helps you work together more effectively in the office, too.

 

CELEBRATING

Recognize your team members’ work anniversaries or birthdays.  Maybe host a pizza party for the whole team when a sale closes or break out ice cream mid-afternoon for a surprise treat to bring everyone together.  Whatever the occasion, find reasons to celebrate and bring joy to work.

It’s important to mention that you should ask your employees how they like to be recognized and what makes them feel appreciated.  When they feel valued, their job satisfaction will increase.  Recognition and gratitude strengthen feelings of self-confidence and reinforces sense of purpose.

Is complaining a blind spot for you?

We often don’t realize how quickly and often we complain or place blame. It’s prevalent in corporate culture, but we often don’t see it in ourselves.  It becomes our blind spot, indicating a lack of self-awareness. We tend to be blind to repeated patterns that give us poor results over and over again. We complain and blame, and we fail to look first and foremost at what we can be doing differently ourselves.

But there is good news.  Once you identify a blind spot, you start to recognize when your behavior is being dictated by it in the moment, and more importantly, overcome it.

 

COMPLAINING IS REALLY AN ENEMY OF ACCOUNTABILITY

When a leader is accountable, they are first owning the problem, and then are focused on the solution. They are looking through a lens of “how do we solve this problem,” rather than “who’s to blame for this problem?”

Of course, we encounter all kinds of problems in our professional and personal lives. Some are fires that have to be put out immediately while others are longer term problems that you may not even know how to begin to tackle right now. What’s true for both of those scenarios is that the goal is to fix the problem so that the level of recurrence slows down or is eliminated completely. The first step is to try to understand why you keep having the same fire drills again and again. Then you can work to solve the problem at its core rather than just dousing flames each time the issue ignites.

If your workplace culture is focused on what goes wrong and places blame on individual contributors, that’s a systemic problem that needs to be addressed. Rather than focus on the individual, it is more effective to look to the organization to see where the breakdown occurs. When we are accountable as individuals, we take responsibility for our thoughts and understand how they affect our moods and in turn influence our behaviors. Complaining is just one of many behaviors that stand in the way of getting the results we strive for.

 

THE NEGATIVES OF COMPLAINING

We tend to complain because it can often seem easier than finding a solution. But constantly focusing on the negative doesn’t serve you, your team or your organization. Complaining increases stress and anxiety, which gets in the way of your ability to think clearly and perform at your best.  It can create a downward spiral that manifests in a victim mentality, pessimism and even a sense of hopelessness. There is no learning that comes from complaining.  Just defensiveness, anger and fear.

 

COMPLAINING DOES HAVE ITS PLACE

There are some cases where complaining works as an ice breaker among strangers. Think about the last time you were waiting in a long line. Did you spark up a conversation with the person next to you and commiserate on the delay? A conversation that begins as a mutual complaining session can establish a common mood, and quickly transition to more pleasant topics.

 

HOW TO MAKE A RESPONSIBLE COMPLAINT

Complaining, if handled tactfully, can also spark action. These are what we call “effective complaints.” These types of complaints identify a breakdown and are designed to repair the problem, not point fingers.

 

Here’s an example:

You asked your assistant to book your travel accommodations a week ago and haven’t heard back.

Step 1: Check to make sure that your understanding of the request you made matches the understanding of the person that received your request.

“My understanding was that you were going to check my calendar and book my flight and hotel with our travel agent for the conference at the end of the month. Is that accurate?”

Step 2: After confirming that there was a shared understanding of the request, establish that what was agreed to has not been fulfilled (i.e. identify the breakdown). This approach shifts the conversation from an assessment to an assertion, making it possible to move forward. 

“You haven’t contacted the travel agent yet?” 

“No, sorry. It’s been a busy week.”

Step 3: State the damage that has been done as a result of this commitment not being met.

“I have to be honest with you. I’m not happy about this. I’m under a lot of pressure to get my presentation for the conference done, and I need your help to ensure the travel portion is taken care of. I don’t want to risk the possibility of a late arrival or not fulfilling my obligations as a speaker since that would be detrimental to my reputation.”

 Step 4: Make a new request.

“Can you please get in touch with the travel agent this morning and let me know the flight and hotel have been finalized no later than noon today?” 

“Yes. I’ll get on it immediately.” 

This type of complaint that creates a plan for change is unfortunately pretty rare.

 

By dissecting a problem, leaders can begin to assess what the breakdown is, where it occurred and what patterns are repetitive. When everyone involved in the situation takes ownership for their actions and works together to prevent the problem from happening again, the return on investment is measurable.

“I thought I’d be earning six figures by now.”

“I belong to a great gym; why can’t I seem to get there?”

“I have a great idea for a book.  I just can’t find the time to start.”

 

If any of these sounds familiar to you, what stands between your vision and your reality? The number one reason people aren’t where they want to be is often a lack of clarity around their true priorities.

 

RESISTING “NOISE”

Distraction comes in many forms. From competing commitments to information overload, it can often seem impossible to stay the course. Negative self-talk can be the enemy of focus, confidence and achievement. Develop an awareness of what pulls you off track. Are you possibly a people pleaser?  Do you focus on the worst-case scenario?  Once you identify your obstacles, you can develop strategies to overcome them.

 

LET’S BE REAL

Think about it. How important are the things you say are important to you? Although something may sound good, it may not truly be a priority of yours.

 

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Who do I want to be?
  2. What are my true priorities?
  3. When am I most vulnerable to external “noise”?
  4. Where can I exert more control than I realize?
  5. Why not start today?

 

GETTING THERE — INTENTIONALLY

One way to ensure that you control the reigns over your day and eventually your life, is to set intentions. When you set an intention, you bring desire to a conscious level, where it transforms into a decision. It’s then up to you to act in alignment with that decision and make it a priority, reaching your goal.

Being a an effective, inspiring and well-respected leader isn’t easy.  There are actionable ways you can be a better leader for your people and company.  While some of these tips may serve as important reminders, others you may never have considered before.  Keep an open mind and test out what works best for your style.

 

Lead by example

Leaders need to show, not just tell. If you want your employees to be punctual, make sure you are on time. If professionalism is a priority, treat everyone you interact with courtesy. Set the tone for your employees.

Humility can go a long way

A true leader shares the spotlight and is comfortable crediting others. While it might seem counterintuitive, being humble takes more confidence than basking in glory. Your employees will appreciate it and rise to the occasion.

Communicate Effectively

Great leaders make sure they are heard and understood, but they also know the importance of listening. Communication is a two-way street.

Keep meetings productive

Time is money, so limit the time wasters during meetings. Meet about necessary items and prepare an agenda ahead of time.

Find a good mentor.

The best leaders know when they need help and know where to turn to in order to get it. Nobody can know everything, so finding someone you trust for advice when things get tough can make all of the difference.

Be emotionally aware

Business is ultimately about relationships between people. To make these relationships last, you need to be emotionally intelligent. Use your head to do what’s best for the company, but don’t forget to have a heart.

Learn from the past

Think about what the people you admire do well and consider what went wrong for others that ended with unsuccessful careers.  Lessons can be found everywhere.

Never stop improving

Great leaders are constantly learning and trying to improve themselves. There’s always something that you can work on or a new skill to master. Be sure to keep your mind open to new ideas and possibilities.

Is the water in your glass half-full or half-empty?  It’s as full as you believe it to be.  Your perceptions impact the way you interact with the world around you and determine if you are an optimist or a pessimist.

Did you know you can cultivate optimism?  Even though it is a personality trait, it is a skill that can be learned.  The first step is wanting to be optimistic.  If you are not motivated to adjust any thoughts or behaviors, nothing will change.

 

Why Learning Optimism is Important

Numerous experiments and studies show that optimists do better in school and work.  Overall, they generally age well and evidence suggests that they can even live longer.  Additionally, pessimists often get caught up in the idea of perfection, worry and get stuck.

As you are cultivating optimism, keep your feet on the ground.  Being overly optimistic can be just as unhealthy as being pessimistic.  It can cause you to make decisions based on a false sense of reality.  The end goal is to become or remain optimistic while striving to maintain a balanced reality.

 

Ways to Cultivate Optimism Now

Focus on the present moment

It’s easy to zero in on the past or worry about the future.  Instead, develop mindfulness in all your activities.

Look inside

Too often, people think happiness needs to come from an external source.  Finding a better job, a new house, affording a nicer car, etc.  Instead, the state of happiness really comes from being, not having.

Develop gratitude

Take note of all the good going on in your life right now.  When you focus on this positive mindset, optimism will come naturally.

Be kind to others

You can think of optimism as having a boomerang effect.  When you donate to a cause or do a kind gesture for a neighbor, you also benefit by what’s called a “helper’s high”.

Change your words

Reworking your thoughts puts things in a new perspective.  When you notice a pessimistic thought, take a moment and stop.  Think about how you can somehow make that scenario a positive one.  Another example is paying close attention to your words.  For example, instead of saying, “failure”, change it to “learning experience”.

Create short, powerful statements that can be used to remind yourself to be positive and persevere.  What sparks optimistic thoughts for you?  Keep a reminder of that handy.

 

Using these simple ideas to cultivate optimism will take practice.  Before you know it, though, you will be an optimist.

No matter how much you love your job, you have probably experienced a version of the infamous Sunday Scaries.  The feeling that Sunday doesn’t really belong to you and you start your countdown to Monday.

According to a LinkedIn survey, 80 percent of working professionals have reported experiencing the Sunday Scaries. Of those who reported feeling the onset of the Scaries, 1 in 3 admitted they have them every week.  If you fit into one of these categories, here are some alternatives to sitting around and thinking about Monday lurking around the corner.

EXERCISE OVER THE WEEKEND

Do something that gets your heart rate going, makes you feel good, and leaves you feeling refreshed and accomplished.  Exercise is known to produce feel-good hormones. Exercise has been proven to create new hippocampal neurons involved with memory, emotion regulation, and learning.

GO TO A MUSEUM

Feed your brain and soul. Sundays are a great day for an early trip to the museum. According to Attention Restoration Theory, your brain needs to shift mental gears in order to refocus its attention. A great way to do that is to physically remove yourself from your everyday routine.

If that’s not available, consider browsing some of the world’s most amazing museums online. Museums like New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art showcase much of their collection online.

LEARN SOMETHING NEW

Learn something new—or at least start to learn.  If you are wallowing in Sunday Scaries, you probably have some time to devote to a new craft. Maybe learn how to sew or start learning an entirely new language.  Learning a new skill or a new language is a great way to give yourself purpose.

WAKE UP EARLY

Try getting up as early as you would on a Monday. Go out for a morning stroll, get a coffee, walk your dog, or go for a run.  Sleeping in until 12 p.m. on a Sunday is almost guaranteed to start you off on the wrong foot.  By waking earlier than others, you can take advantage of the quieter part of Sunday and still have a whole day to yourself.

TAKE A HIATUS FROM ALL SCREENS

Consider taking a break from all glowing screens this weekend.  Instead, try something on paper.  Try crossword puzzles or pick up a new book.

THINK ABOUT YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS

It’s always good to take note of what you have accomplished.  What did you accomplish?  Even if it’s something small like making it into work on time every day, note it. If you think of your accomplishments and you’re still unimpressed, consider how you can improve in the coming week.

DO MID-WEEK THINGS

Skip a night of television in bed and go out. Catch a new movie with a friend or get dinner with your significant other. Don’t put so much pressure on the weekend being the only leisure time you have. Get it going on a Tuesday.

CATCH UP WITH SOMEONE

Use the weekend to catch up with an old friend. Take an afternoon to laugh about college, to share stories from your life as it stands, and maybe even to get some advice from an old friend.

 

These are other ways the Sunday Scaries can be defeated besides just looking for a new job.  It’s time to start to reclaim your weekend and to arrive Monday morning refreshed and ready to go.

An informational interview is not a job interview.  It is a way to get a clear visual of an industry, company, or position to determine if it’s right for you.  When you request an informational interview with someone, it means you are willing to hear their story without pressing your own.

Once you get someone to agree to meet you for an information interview, the next task is developing the right questions to ask.  Make sure to personalize the questions and do research on the person and their work in advance.  Here are some of our favorites.

Tell me a bit about your career path and what led you to the role you are in today?  An informational interview is about them, so this is the best place to start.

What were some of your earlier roles in the field?  Great follow up questions include what did you learn that helps you today? Or, what mistakes did you make along the way? These give you great insight into how linear, or not, someone’s career path was.

What does a work day look like for you?  This will help you determine if you would enjoy the everyday experience of this type of role.

What are some big projects you’re working on now or that you’ve finished up in the last few months?  Projects keep a job interesting, so you want to know what he or she has been working on.

What are you most excited about right now?  What this person enjoys about her work could be completely unexpected and it’s a great way to get the person to open up more.

Is there something that surprised you about the role when you first started?  You may have someone who is willing to be candid about the downsides of their job.  If not, this question is an easy shift to allow them to share something they were unprepared for.

What skills do you think are most important for someone interested in a job like yours?  Take careful note of these, especially the ones you don’t technically have to fill gaps in your skill set before applying for similar jobs.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face day-to-day?  As you listen, do these challenges excite you or do they sound horrible?

What about the biggest rewards?  This can range from the salary to an emotional reward.  Listen carefully to see if the answer resonates with you.

Do you have any recommendations for other people I should talk to or other resources I should explore?  Maybe they’ll introduce you to another contact, but it’s also great to just hear what sites you should be reading or newsletters you should subscribe to.

Are there any questions I’m not asking that I should be? Sometimes you’ve missed a big element of the work simply because you didn’t ask in quite the right way.

Would it be alright for us to stay in touch?  Whether that’s through LinkedIn or through an occasional email, it’s always nice to turn an informational interview into an ongoing networking connection or a potential mentor.

Make sure to wind down the information interview in a timely fashion.  Keep an eye on the time.  Generally speaking, they should be no longer than 20-25 minutes.  If you find you are going to run long, find a logical place to cut yourself off.  Thank them when you are through and following up with a thank you note is also a nice touch.  If you asked to stay in touch, be sure to follow through.  Set a calendar notification on your phone for one month or a couple months out from your meeting to make sure you remember.

When done correctly, informational interviews can help you make good decisions as well as expand your network.

Whether you want to try something new or developed a passion in a different area than your current career, you may be wondering to yourself, “How do others make this leap?” It’s easy to get frustrated after you receive several letters from companies informing you that another candidate was selected because they had more experience.

STOP APPLYING ONLINE
Putting in your general application is great if you already hold the same title or similar title to what you are applying for or want new challenges within a similar role. Online applications don’t work for transition into a new role or industry because you don’t get a chance to explain yourself.

BREAKING IN WITHOUT EXPERIENCE

Decide what you want to be known for. Find people who are considered thought leaders, influencers, or someone with the same position you are looking for. Discover what they do to really stand out and use that to assess and build your own person brand.

Use Social Media. Take a close look at what you are putting out in social media. Clean things up and then go back to deciding what you want to be known for. Start curating posts and content around your passion topics. Make what others say validate your true interests in securing a specific role with a company.

Network with future colleagues. Look around to find people who could be your potential future coworkers. Where do they hang out? Take a look at professional associations and upcoming events. When you do attend these, make meaningful connections.

Create an online portfolio. This not only allows you to stand out from the crowd, but it also gives a way to be found. Give tangible examples of your work and provide information on what you are passionate about.

Certification and online courses. Take your passion a step further, this shows you’re serious. You don’t necessarily need a new degree to make a transition unless it requires a specific level or type of education. Many employers are willing to train the right person, but they need to know you have the basic foundation and the willingness to learn. Learning the language of the new role helps you articulate how your background transfers to it.

Offer to help. While networking, find out how you can help others with your desired position. You can use your help and effort to gain knowledge about the area you want to tap into. The secret is to give more in order to receive more. Or maybe you can volunteer at a non-profit while you are learning your new skills. They will likely welcome the extra help!

Making a career transition is a process. It will not happen overnight, but as you build the foundation with these suggestions, you will be equipped to connect with the right people to lead you to the right opportunity.

In the past, a career was static, and it was a stable part of your identity.  But times have changed and if is more like this:

“Hi, I’m Molly and I have an undergrad in political science, worked at a tech start up for a couple years, quit to pursue art full-time, and then went into consulting to pay the bills.”

If this sounds familiar, it’s no wonder why you feel confused and you could be experiencing a career identity crisis. Even if you undergo only one or two major career shifts in your lifetime, those shifts can hit you hard. 

Our work doesn’t just feel like something we do; it feels like something we are. This can be healthy or unhealthy depending on your relationship to your career, but the point is that a change in your career signals a change in you. And when that change is uncomfortable, you feel uncomfortable.

When you want to leave an old career for a new career, the question is not just, “How will I do something new?” You also wrestle with, “How will I be someone new?”

Career transitions are the new normal and to be expected.  Careers today are fluid, so it is important to learn how to go with the flow.  Here are some tips to help: 

Schedule a Social Life

While it may be tempting to isolate yourself when you feel like you don’t have it together, it’s important that you have somewhere to be and people to interact with, especially if you’re in a situation where you suddenly have lots of downtime.

Give Yourself Permission to be “In-Between”

You won’t be here forever, so for awhile it’s ok to be uncertain.  For now, you get to not know everything. And don’t worry – you will sort things out and recover. 

Write About Who You Are

This can be list form, stories, notes about your past, or what you’re doing now.  Reconnect to who you are.  You ARE more than your career. Remember who you are—just you, without work defining you. 

Do Things That Make You Feel Like Somebody

It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself when you are in the middle of a career crisis.  To counteract that, you need to do things that make you feel capable.  Maybe it is creating art, helping a friend, rearranging your house, or spending time with your nephew. 

Directly Address Career Issues

Oftentimes when something is off in our careers, we feel that we have no control over it.  So, instead of addressing our careers head on, we tinker with other areas of our life.  We start a creative project, invest more in our social lives, or endeavor to do more self-care.  While these can improve the quality of life, they don’t solve the core problem. Take direct action to resolve the conflict in your career, and you’ll feel powerful and more like you.