Should I Stay or Should I Go?

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Confused how to go about making your next move? Here’s how to figure out if you should stay in your current role or when to consider leaving; when is the right time to move on? Part one of a three post series.

It’s that time of the year when many of us hit the road to the cottage and take some much needed vacation time away from the city. A change in our daily routines can help us feel refreshed, taking a break from daily stressors and busy-ness to decompress and unwind. It can also be an important time to reflect on your own personal satisfaction and plan your next career move.

Many of us have very little time to stop and think about our careers and where we want to be in three, five or even ten years from now. We’re so consumed with work and life that it prevents us from stepping off the merry-go-round to pause and truly think about our career goals and career happiness in a meaningful way and plan for future success.

I find it helpful to look at the state of your career happiness in the following ways and take stock of where you are right now.

Which of the following is you:

  1. I love my job and excited for the future

  2. I love my job, but things could be better

  3. I like my job but its no longer as exciting or challenging

  4. My job is OK but I am not satisfied

  5. I am unhappy in my job and unsure of my future

In ALL cases above, I believe it’s important to be thinking and planning your career, whether you love your job or are feeling like you may need a change. Having a career plan will help guide your decision-making and help you see your current situation more clearly. You may not have all the answers or know what your future holds at your company right now, but there are a few things you can do to feel better about it.

For starters I’ve always found writing down your thoughts on a blank sheet of paper is a great first step. What are your career aspirations and goals? Where do you see yourself in three to five years? Are you doing the same job or something different? What do you love doing? What comes naturally to you? Are you using your best skills and strengths every day?

Even if you don’t have all the answers right away, keep writing and thinking about where you want to be in the future and what an exciting next step in your career looks like. Don’t be afraid to dream big: positive visualization is a powerful thing! This may take some time and definitely best done while sitting on a dock or during moments when you are away from the hustle of work. You may discover the next step in your career is right in front of you at your current company. Or not.

Once you have an exciting career plan together, start by having an honest discussion with your employer to share your career goals and better understand what future career opportunities and advancement look like at your company. This is a great conversation to have with your employer so you understand the expectations of what’s required to get there.

I believe you have a greater likelihood for promotion if you can agree to a career growth plan with your employer and understand the expectations of what’s needed to advance. This will force your employer to put something in writing that you both can agree on, an employee growth plan (something many companies do not have), and book times during the year to check in on your progress.

Many believe if you do a good job and keep your head down, you will be rewarded; I think this is a naive approach to career advancement. You have to take ownership of your career and job satisfaction to address issues you face and stay the course if your career goals can still be met at your current job. Alternatively, this can also kickstart you to start planning your exit if your current situation is not going to change.

See if you can answer yes to these questions:

Do you see growth potential in your current role for the next 3-5 years?

Do you have a career plan of what the next steps and future looks like at your current employer?

Have you talked to your Manager about your career goals and how they can help you achieve them?

Do you know what the expectations are to advance in your company? In order to get a promotion or move up, what results must you achieve?

Are you meeting with your Manager on an ongoing basis to get feedback on your performance and confirm you are making progress towards your career goals?

Either way, it’s important to hit pause during these final days of summer and take stock of your career happiness and goals; understand and take ownership of your career plan and get excited about planning your future. After all, you only get one.