If you love your job, or it's working for you, don't let anyone else talk you out of it. Work means different things to different people. And over a lifetime, work will mean different things to you personally.
It isn't about reinventing yourself, it's about rediscovering yourself.
Then again, if you are on the fence, here are nine signs you might be due for a change. (We'll leave out the obvious signs, like "I can't pay my rent" or "The stress is giving me nightmares.")
Sign #1: You can't wait to get home, and you haven't even left the house.
When you find yourself eager to be somewhere else—not occasionally but consistently—ask yourself what needs to change: your level of concentration or your circumstances. Sometimes a change in one leads to a change in the other.
Sign #2: Your boss and/or co-workers can do nothing right. If you're constantly fed up with those around you, even over little things, it may be a sign you've already moved on. As best you can, leave at your peak and leave on good terms.
Sign #3: You like your boss and co-workers, but the job no longer fits. Maybe you have different family obligations, different values, or different priorities. Or sometimes the work environment changes—and you're no longer comfortable with the new boss or new direction. Rather than fighting it, see if you can't use the discomfort to propel you in a new, better direction.
Sign #4: You no longer care about the quality of your work. Definitely a sign that the building's burning down (my friend Ginna's analogy). To put it simply, your work matters—so does the spirit with which you do it. Ever had a shot from an angry nurse?
Safeguard your work ethic, even when you're not feeling it. Those who depend on you deserve that much. So does the person who's signing your paycheck.
Sign #5: The frustration from your job spills over into every other area of your life: conversations, for example. Your health. Your sleep. Your mental state. I have interviewed job candidates whose raging anger could clear a forest. They didn't get hired.
Honor your discontent, but know when to keep it in check. And if you do have job stress (as we all have), there's nothing wrong with enlisting a professional to help you deal with it.
Sign #6: Higher commitments are being sacrificed continuously. What is your work costing you? Is it feeding your other commitments—or eating them alive? Write down one or more changes that would make the situation workable—then determine if it's possible or desirable. If it isn't, it might be time to look elsewhere.
Sign #7: You've lost your spark. Or maybe you're asking "What spark?"
Your 'spark' is that quality or set of qualities that reflects you at your best—your laugh, for example, or your creativity and overall optimism.
If you find your best qualities diminishing or disappearing, now is the time to put more "you" back into your day. Only you know if this actually requires a job change. But in the memorable words of Billy Idol (!), "If your world doesn't allow you to dream, move to one where you can."
Sign #8: Your health and/or safety are being compromised. Are you really okay with that? Often while I was growing up, my parents would remind me, "There's only one you." It was said not so much as a compliment but as a warning.
The same is true for you. I know we're all overusing the word "literally" these days, but the fact is, there is only one you—and there will (literally) never be another.
Sign #9: One or more of these signs start to seem normal. I wrote about this in Ultimate Reminders for Everyday Life: Be careful what you let into your life. What you let in today becomes normal tomorrow. Or as one of my loved ones once said about Vegas, "When this place starts to look normal, I'm leaving." She did.
Is there something in your life that's starting to look normal but isn't normal? That could be the strongest sign of all that you're being called somewhere better.
P.S. Congratulations to last week's drawing winner, Jane H., who received a $30 gift card to Amazon. Heartfelt thank-yous to all who wrote and shared their kind words and insights about the proposed product/service offerings. More about those results soon!
Your work matters—so does the spirit with which you do it. Ever had a shot from an angry nurse?
— Gina DeLapa