Most likely, you started your career doing work that you loved. Energized and excited, you looked forward to going to work every morning and gained personal satisfaction and feelings of accomplishment from the assignments you were paid to do. But over time, your feelings may have changed. Your skills, values, and areas of expertise may have shifted, and at the same time, your company’s needs and culture may have evolved.
If this is true for you, you may be wondering whether it’s time to look for a new position that could bring the pleasure back to your workday. To help you make that decision, you might want to ask yourself the following questions:
Later Mornings, Earlier Evenings. When you wake up, do you look forward to getting to work, or do you look for excuses to delay your arrival? At the end of the day, do you lose track of time because you’re so involved in what you’re doing, or do you find yourself watching the clock, eagerly awaiting a time when you can reasonably leave? If you’re spending less time at work, it’s probably because you don’t enjoy it anymore.
Quality Time. How would you characterize the quality of the time you spend at work? If you find it hard to stay focused on your assignments and often drift off to think about or even work on a volunteer project or other extracurricular activity, it could be a sign that you no longer have a passion for what you are doing.
Been There, Done That. In the past, were you the first person to raise your hand when there was a new technique to be learned, an emerging area to investigate, or a fresh project to get off the ground? If you’ve stopped volunteering for assignments, it could be a sign that you’ve learned all you can in your present job, and it’s time to move to a different workplace where you can build valuable new skills and expertise.
Perceptions. Are colleagues coming to you for help or advice less frequently than in the past? Has your supervisor or a coworker commented that you appear tired, lack enthusiasm, or just don’t seem as excited about your work as you used to be? Although they may make these comments in a joking manner, you should take the remarks seriously. They may be a red flag that indicates that you’re no longer perceived in a positive light at work. You don’t want to be surprised by a less-than-stellar performance review, which could be damaging to your career.
No job is a perfect fit, and there will always be days, or even weeks, when you don’t enjoy your work. Ideally, the good days will outnumber the bad ones by a fair margin. But if the balance tips toward bad days, it may be time to start looking for a new position so you can fall in love with your work again.
Get Involved In The Discussion. The ACS Career Tips column is published the first week of every month in C&EN. Post your comments, follow the discussion, and suggest topics for future columns in the Career Development section of the ACS Network (www.acs.org/network-careers).