A Case of ‘Career Fever’

No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow. ~ Proverb

Looking out my window this morning I am having a hard time believing that spring will ever come but despite the 8 feet of snow piled beside my driveway I know that the snow will melt and the flowers will bloom – eventually! When spring is finally on its way I will get a little extra skip in my step, have a little bit more energy, feel a little happier, and get an overwhelming urge to clean house – not the usual cleaning either, a complete overhaul.

Do you ever get that same feeling when it comes to your career? Have you ever had a job that felt like perpetual winter and wondered if a new job, occupation, or employer change would turn that around? If you have a case of ‘career fever’ and an irresistible desire to ‘clean house’, here are some questions to ask yourself before you take the plunge.

1. What is it about your current job, occupation, or employer that doesn’t satisfy you the way it used to – or the way you want it to?

Sometimes it easy to identify what the source of dissatisfaction is but other times it is a little more difficult. If you are having a hard time identifying what it is you aren’t happy with you might find yourself in the very same situation with your next job, occupation, or employer.

If your source of dissatisfaction is the work itself, the specific tasks that you do on a day to day basis, but you really like the company you work for maybe there are other job opportunities available with your current employer that would be a better fit. Perhaps there is something about your employer, their business model, or the people you work with that can be resolved with a move to a new employer. Do you have a big ‘spring clean’ in mind? Perhaps a different occupation is the answer.

Changing your job with your current employer, or finding a similar job with a different employer, might be an easier transition than changing occupations but a different occupation might provide just the challenge you are seeking.

2. What is it about your current job or occupation that you do enjoy?

Chances are that your current situation isn’t all bad. Before you throw up your hands and walk away take some time to think about what is good about your job or employer. What has kept you coming back day after day? Is it the people you work with, the environment, the pay and compensation, the variety or stability of work tasks, the availability of professional development? Every job has its ups and downs. If you have more ups than downs you might want to consider what you will miss most, especially if you are thinking about changing employers.

3. How much do you know about the colour of the grass on the other side of the fence?

While the grass may look greener on the other side of the fence it may not in fact be greener. Reading up on different employers and doing your research about alternate occupations is important but more important is talking to people, lots of people. It is the people who are working for an employer of interest or working in the occupation you are interested in that will be able to tell you about the realities of working for a particular company, or working in a particular occupation.

Think about the people you know, the work they do, the companies they work for, and the people they may know. Arrange a time to take them out for coffee or lunch and be prepared for the information interview with a list of questions that will help you evaluate if the grass is indeed greener on the other side.

4. What is your level of passion and enthusiasm for the new job, occupation, or employer you are considering?

Bold changes based on knee jerk reactions can result in the same level of dissatisfaction if you haven’t done your research. Making a move based on the “anything but this” philosophy may work out for you but taking the time to examine your personal motivators, values, interests, and best fit work environment will likely result in longer term satisfaction and opportunities that you weren’t even aware of. Put your head and your heart into your career decisions and the sky will be the limit.

5. What do you need, or need to do, to make the leap?

Your research and information interviews will provide you with valuable insights about what is required by way of knowledge, skills, and abilities for various jobs. Is your experience and education transferable to the job or occupation you are interested in? Is there anything you can do to prepare yourself for the transition? If you are considering an occupation change you might want to set up a job shadow or volunteer opportunity to get a sense of what is involved.

Assessing the causes of your ‘career fever’ will help you to decide if ‘cleaning house’ or settling into your current surroundings is best for you. In life and career there are no guarantees when it comes to level of satisfaction but if the risk feels worth taking, go for it. You never know what you will learn along the way!

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” ~ Carl Jung

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