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Compiled and edited by Julie Tereshchuk
I love my job—I’ve been here 3 years now—and feel as if I’ve got it under control. (Yeah, it’s pretty demanding.) But… how do I know if I’m in the groove versus in a rut? What do you think—now that I’m comfortable should I ditch it for the next big thing?
I like the thought model from the book Designing Your Life – basically the idea is to find things that really light you up (you notice you were “in flow” and time just whizzed by, or you finish a task and notice you’re energized and excited) and explore the roots of those good feelings.
If you do the exercise and there are things about your job that are on the list, stay! And if not, think about moving on. (Here’s a how to example.)
No! Don’t chase the next big thing just because you feel you should. So many people never find their groove–don’t throw it away!
Now, that being said, you should still take some measures to ensure that you’re ready for that next stage when you need to be. Stay connected, network, and volunteer with colleagues outside of work (WCA makes that part easy). Keep your LinkedIn and other professional profiles updated and fresh (recruiters are always looking for passive candidates and you never know what might fall into your lap).
And commit to professional development. Keeping up with trends and maintaining certifications not only makes you marketable for other jobs, but it can help with career advancement within the organization you’re at, too. Look for areas within your current job that could benefit from the latest techniques–maybe it’s with project management, grant writing, analytics, database management, or content marketing. Pushing yourself in those areas will keep you refreshed and interested and will prove to your current company that you’re worth keeping around (or fighting for, if that time comes).
I think many people struggle with this. I prefer to be in a position where I feel confident enough in my ability to do the job, while also feeling a bit uncomfortable with the pieces of the job that are new to me. This discomfort is where I experience the most growth. Professional growth is something I think we all crave. If you have mastered your role, and the demanding part of it is due to volume instead of things you really have to put some thought into, you may want to look around at other positions that would challenge you on a deeper level. I would also look at what the opportunities for advancement are in your position, if that is important to you, and if those advanced roles would even appeal to you.
The other piece is to evaluate what else you have going on in your life. Sometimes life issues require more of our time. In those cases, it may be ideal to be in a place where you know what you are doing, and can do it in less time, creating more time to devote to other aspects of your life.
If you are in a rut, chances are you’d know it. A rut feels confining and unsatisfying. People in one usually are not thrilled with the job they are in. Nor do they feel like they are living up to their potential. Being comfortable isn’t a bad thing, but because you feel you have your job under control, now is a good time to step outside of your comfort zone and take a risk. See if you can take on more challenging duties or projects—things that excite you, stretch your skill set or make you more marketable—if they are available to you in your current job. If not, you could be heading to rut territory.
My advice: Let your manager know you love your work but would like take on some new challenges in your present role. Keep your eye out for learning opportunities and career development. Start thinking about what you’d like to do next and see if your current job can bring you closer to your goal.