It’s easy to stay in a comfortable job. Many people stay in their comfort zone of a long-term role – even if they outgrew it years ago – simply because it seems easier than quitting. Even if the job doesn’t make them happy, motivated, or fulfilled, the thought of having to navigate a job search can be daunting. In this case, the reward can be worth the risk, as new jobs bring challenge, growth, and excitement. Think about it — what’s exciting about stasis? A better bet is to identify what’s not working, figure out how to fix it, and take action. Here’s how to start figuring out if it’s time to get uncomfortable with your status quo:
What’s your excitement level?
When you wake up in the morning, are you excited to start your day or are you dreading your commute and spending the next 8+ hours in an office? If it’s the latter, it may help to get an understanding of what would motivate you to wake up and get going. If you could wake up tomorrow and have the job of your dreams, what would that look like? What steps do you need to take in order to achieve that?
Take inventory of your hopes.
Create a list by either writing it on a piece of paper with three columns or by putting it in a spreadsheet. The first column should be ‘Love’ and should include the things that you absolutely love doing. This can include things you currently do in your job, things you’re passionate about, and things that make you happy. The second column should be ‘Good At’ and this is a list of the things that you’re genuinely good at. Your boss, your best friend, your mom, and you all know what these things are. Go ahead and identify those traits. Finally, add a column called ‘Hate’ which includes the things that you really, really don’t want to do in life. This can be as specific or broad as you’d like.
I like to think of the non-negotiables when creating a list like this. There are certain things that I refuse to compromise (my values) and things that I absolutely hate such as dealing with math and numbers. Once you have your list, study it. Think about how you combine passion with your strengths. Think creatively and boldly. In a brainstorm like this, there are no bad ideas.
Commit to doing the work.
Psychology shows that comfort zaps desire and ambition. Why leave your comfort zone when it’s so easy to stay? Well, to put it simply, because you’re sacrificing bigger dreams for the sake of ease and stability. Ease may lead to contentment, but it almost certainly leads to boredom. Most of all, when you’re stuck in an unfulfilling routine, it’s often hard to find a reason to be productive. On the other hand, imagine yourself tackling a challenge you’re passionate about and being excited about both the process and the solution. Suddenly, you’re inspired and ready to use your skills.
Insist on being selfish.
Your career revolves around you – not your friends, family, or Instagram feed. Maybe you want to transition to a career that feels less glamorous than your current job, or maybe you want to continue in a job that others have said you should leave. You wake up every day and go to work, so your decision should revolve around one person (and you know who it is).
“Ultimately it’s a personal decision and each person needs to decide what’s right for them,” says Emily Merrell, Founder of Six Degrees Society. Depending on where you are in your life, “comfort can be your best friend or your worst enemy. It might mean taking that trampolining class at 5:30pm, having the flexibility to work on your side hustle during your full time job and work from home on a whim. On the flip side you might resent where you work and how little you are growing or progressing in your current role or company. Sometimes you need to find that job that will enforce the structure you crave, and identify a culture that will challenge everything you’ve learned.”
Rally your tribe.
Once you landed on a decision, seek out advice from friends and mentors who have successfully made job transitions. The collective wisdom of people around you is an invaluable tool, and you can decide what advice to take and what advice to leave. Like any change, a job transition will bring both difficult and rewarding days. To keep yourself on track, jot down notes in a journal or on your phone. Keep your notes handy so you can be easily reminded of how you tackled challenges and celebrated successes.