Is it time for a career change? Have you always wanted to start your own business? If the answer is yes, we know that deciding to leave a current job is never easy. However, if you take some time to evaluate your career purpose, values and goals, you’ll be able to make the right choice with confidence. Most people think about obvious, short-term and reactionary factors when they consider leaving a job. They might spend a significant amount of time agonizing over the fact that they don’t like their co-workers or their boss is a micro-manager. Yes, these factors play an important role in your daily happiness, and you shouldn’t continue working in an environment that makes you miserable. However, I want you to think beyond these factors.
As a certified career and business coach, one of the things I ask my clients to do before they jump into a job search is to find their focus and direction. After all, you can’t create a map to follow if you don’t know what direction you’re going in, right?
Find your career purpose
When you take the time to find your career purpose, you also find focus. It enables you to express what motivates you in words and put it all in writing. Think of it this way. Every person is driven by something. You might be driven by thoughts of being rich, being happy or being famous. You might be driven by proving your parents wrong, or you might be driven by the circumstances life has handed to you.
The word purpose, when used as an adverb, means that something is done deliberately and with intention. What is your intention in life? What is your mission? Ask yourself these questions to find your purpose:
- What do you love to do?
- What are you passionate about?
- What do you think about all the time?
- What are you naturally good at doing?
- What would you do for a job if there were no restrictions?
- What do you want to be remembered for?
- What limitations in your skills or life are holding you back from doing the things you love, are naturally good at or think about all the time?
- How can you overcome those limitations?
Use your responses to write a career mission statement that reflects what you do and what you want to do. This is your purpose, and you’ll use it going forward to evaluate opportunities so you can decide if they’re essential and important to you or not.
Identify your lifestyle and career values
What do you value most in your life and career? It’s your values that subconsciously assign importance to things in your mind. Therefore, if your job aligns with both your career and lifestyle goals, you’ll feel good about it and it will carry positive “weight” in your mind. In other words, you’ll value your job and believe it’s very important in a positive way to your life overall.
If your job doesn’t align with your values, you’ll most likely be unhappy and feel unfulfilled and you’ll need to leave the job to find one that does match your values. Of course, if you haven’t identified your values, you won’t know how to find a job that does align with them. You’ll be in a constant state of unhappiness. Answer the questions below to identify some of your lifestyle and career values:
1. What motivates you and what do you place value on in your life? For example, you might value family, community, a fancy car, education or even sleep!
2. What motivates you and what do you place value on in your career? For example, you might value a specific salary, decision-making authority, schedule flexibility or a short commute.
3. What does not motivate you and what do you not value in your career? For example, you might not value a micromanaging boss, travel, public speaking or even a job that keeps you stuck in an office all day.
Create a list of your lifestyle values using the first question above, and then, prioritize those values. Next, create a list of the top five career values you listed in question two above and a list of the top five career values you don’t value from question three above. Using these list, evaluate your current job. Does it align with your lifestyle and career values? If not, it’s most likely time to leave your job.
Define your goals
What are your goals in your career and in your life? If your current job isn’t helping you reach your short-term or long-term goals, then it’s time to leave. Goal definition is an important process because it forces you to get everything down on paper, and when you put something to paper, it makes it tangible and helps to create a commitment for yourself to achieve it.
Your goals in all aspects of your life can affect your career just as your career goals can affect your life. If your current job doesn’t align with your goals, then you need to start looking for a new job. At a minimum, you should create a list of your goals in the following areas:
- Things (tangible items)
- Education and learning
- Giving back (charitable goals)
After creating your lists, prioritize them, and using this list, create 10 short-term goals and 10 long-term goals that you need to accomplish. Your short-term goals are things you want to achieve in one to two years, and your long-term goals are things you want to achieve in more than two years. With your written goals in hand, you can create an action plan with specific steps and completion dates to reach them.
Answer these questions to learn if it’s time to leave your job
With all of that said, I know you’re still looking for a quick answer to the question whether you should leave your job. No one can answer that but you, and the best answer will come from the exercises I introduced above. However, there are some simple questions you can ask yourself to get the ball rolling:
- Does your job make you miserable?
- Does your job pay you enough to support the lifestyle you want right now?
- Does your job offer you the earning potential you want?
- Does your job offer the mobility you want?
- Will your job help you reach your goals or is it keeping you from reaching your goals?
- Do you like the company you work for?
- Do you dread going to work every day?
- Do you dream of doing something else as a job?
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, then it’s possible leaving your job will make you happier than staying at your current job will. However, there is a lot to consider when you leave a job. Don’t be reactionary or you could end up in another position that is equally wrong for you (or worse). Instead, create a plan that aligns with your purpose, values and goals, and you’ll be happier in both the short-term and long-term.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors