It is traditional to start the new year with resolutions; the human brain works well with closure and rebeginnings. They mirror the annual cycle of death and rebirth seen in the passing of the seasons. We are programmed with this perspective, but do we get the most benefit from it?
Commitments vary widely from “quit smoking” and “lose weight” to “learn a new language” or “get organized” but one of the most helpful strategies is to focus on 10X resolutions – the type of cornerstone resolution that can have ten times the impact of an ordinary change.
This is why changes in diet and exercise are common but excellent starting points – building one’s health through proactive lifestyle choices has multiple positive ripple effects. Also in the top 10 of new year’s resolution for 2019 was “find another job” – not surprising when 85% of employees worldwide are not engaged or are actively disengaged in their job.
When seeking 10X change, career is a vital area to zone in on. With work absorbing so much of our waking life, it is critical that we derive value and joy from it. Unfortunately, this is often not the case.
At the same time, addressing that problem and finding a job you love could be the biggest investment you make in your personal wellbeing and happiness in 2020.
So, where to start?
1. Get to know yourself. And be honest.
Why aren’t you happy in your current work? No, really. Beyond your difficult boss, your challenging colleagues, toxic company culture or unsatisfactory pay, what about YOU does not fit into your current context? Perhaps there’s something you can work on with yourself that will change your current situation enough to make this job more appealing.
Chances are, though, that if you’re looking for a new job, you’re unhappy enough that salvaging this one is not going to be possible. In that case, the first step is still the same: reflect on yourself. What do you want out of life that you would want to find in your work? What values drive you, and how have they changed since you entered the working world? Are you unhappy with your current employment, or is it the work itself? If it’s the former, what do you need from an employer or clients to feel happy? If the latter, what stimulates you and what kind of work incorporates an aspect of this?
Give yourself time to digest this process – make notes, draw mind maps, keep a journal over a few days or weeks. Ask people who know you well, or take a personality test (the Human Metrics test also comes with career recommendations for your personality type). Try to see yourself as a new person you are meeting for the first time – what makes you tick?
Be curious, be positive and don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself about what you really want, even if it seems impossible.
2. Follow the love
Which companies, organizations or movements do you follow in the media? Whose products do you consume with glee? These are great starting points when looking for new work. Check out their job or career pages and see if there’s anything on offer for you and your skills.
Businesses are increasingly aligning themselves with greater purpose and stronger values in order to attract and retain the best talent. This offers better opportunities to find work with people who share your worldview. This type of cultural synergy is an important ingredient of enjoying a happy and engaged work life.
When approaching a specific company you would genuinely love to work for, allow your passion to show. No need to be a sycophant, but in your cover letter and interviews be upfront about what you love about the way Company X does things, and how you could help them do it even better. If you feel this authentically, it will show.
3. Do it properly
Though you may be unhappy, changing jobs is seldom an urgent need that must be satisfied immediately (however, if you are stuck in such circumstances go straight to point 5).
Don’t get ahead of yourself. Even just looking for a new job can be a therapeutic process, so allow yourself to digest the benefits and feel the value of knowing you have options. Watch how that affects the way you show up day-to-day.
And continue to search. Remember, you are not just looking for a job, you are looking for a job that you’ll love. Be clear about what you are looking for – apart from money, what else will you need in order to feel excited and committed in a new role? Remote work options? Childcare? Clear career paths and continuous learning? All are valid – it’s your search.
Remember that you have value to add – businesses would benefit from your work. You can and should be selective in choosing who gets access to your skills and experience.
Use job sites, your personal network and internal company recruitment pages (if it’s the role not the organization that’s causing you discontent) and only apply when you are feeling enthusiastic, calm or confident, never desperate.
4. Take the relationship seriously
The nature of work has changed radically over the past few decades. In previous years individuals worked for one firm from graduation through to retirement. Now anyone entering the job market can expect to have upward of 20 jobs over the course of their careers, perhaps even multiple careers.
Employers know this. It is a risk for them to hire someone new because it requires investment of time and resources. The best employers see this as an opportunity to treat their staff well and show their commitment. But, like all relationships, the connection between employer and employee works best when it’s built on trust, integrity and mutual respect.
Play your part. Of course, if your employer later turns out to betray your expectations you should look to change where you work, but job hopping doesn’t really benefit anyone. Go into every new recruitment process wanting the best for you and the company recruiting. If it becomes clear to you that there won’t be a good fit, be honest about that and look elsewhere. In the long run, you will save everyone, but especially yourself, a lot of pain.
5. Get some support
Although it is usually exciting, changing jobs or careers can be tumultuous, even confusing. Sometimes the reasons for wanting the change are not clear to you – you just know that you’re unhappy. Or, you know what you want to do and why, but you’re not quite sure how. Other times something has gone really wrong and you’re desperate for a quick solution.
Whatever the case, having someone to support and guide you through the transition process can be invaluable. Friends and family can offer emotional support, or financial support if necessary, and advice. But a trained professional can help you strategize and take clear action steps towards a new work path. That clarity alone is a tremendous asset.
Consider enlisting the support of a career coach. You will almost certainly be exposed to opportunities you never spotted before, and will have access to expert skills that help you reach them.