Many people aren't happy, fulfilled or even moderately satisfied with their work. The work environment is stressful, characterized by constant change, increasing production expectations, long commutes, and NEVER ENOUGH TIME. Just taking the same job with another organization may not be the answer. If you are ready for a change but don’t know how to improve your situation, here are some suggestions that may help. Remember finding the right work situation for you takes time and effort.
First, determine if you really want to change your work situation
Do you know why you are doing what you’re doing? Are you tired or angry more than you are happy or satisfied? Do you daydream about doing something else? Is everything about your job starting to feel the same? Here is a 52 question quiz from Julie Jansen that provides insight into your readiness to change. If you find you are ready to change, what next?
Learn from what you like. Over a couple weeks begin to keep a list of the situational characteristics when you are happy. What are you doing? Who is around you? What about that situation feels good? After you have a list of at least 10 situations, look for commonalities - make a list. This is the beginning of your change process. There are also many on-line assessments about your desired work tasks and work environment. Try them. Do not take any as gospel, but after you have completed several personal assessments, either on-line, or from career guidance books; again, look for commonalities. Compare the assessment results with your own informal assessment from the 10 situations. Perhaps now you have an idea of the characteristics you would like in your new work situation. Make a list.
Match jobs to your desired work situation
This is research. You need to find out what doing various jobs is really like. Make a point to talk with friends, organization members, acquaintances, about their job. Ask specific questions. What is a day like? What do they find good and more importantly, what do they find unpleasant or stressful. Check on line job ads for task descriptions and follow up with discussions about the work environment. Make a list.
What is stopping you?
You need to be honest with yourself here. No one is scoring your performance. You need to know what is keeping you from changing. If you are making a good salary, giving up that security for the possibility of great satisfaction can be scary. Are you willing or able to change your location? How will your change affect your family? How will you make your transition? Do you need additional training? How long and at what cost? Make a list.
Make a plan
You have probably spent a month or more researching and making lists, now it is time to make a plan. Your plan should include small, measurable steps along a timeline. Give yourself the ability to check your progress and feel a sense of accomplishment in the process - sort of an adult version of gold stars. As real options become available, compare them to your lists of desired environments and tasks. And, don't forget to check your new opportunities against your list of obstacles. Making a career change can increase the quality and even the duration of your life. The journey itself should be interesting and finding your desired destination worthwhile.
The author provides more information on career and lifestyle changes to make your life simpler and more satisfying at her Alternating Currents web site.