When it comes to your career, from time to time you hit a wall. When you approach work like a firecracker flaming forward, occasionally you fizzle out. Maybe things have become routine. Maybe work is not as challenging anymore. Maybe the excitement that jack-rabbeted you out of bed in the morning has become dull monotony.
What do you do?
The answer lies in your overall approach to work. What is work to you?
Is work a means to an end?
My dad’s generation, the Baby Boomers, would have sucked it up and grit their teeth through it. In the workplace, Baby Boomers were motivated by position, perks, and prestige. Their commitment to work was manifested in their almost religious devotion to it.
As long as your job affords you the material markers of success and the privilege of authority, who cares about the frivolity of excitement and fulfillment?
Meaning and purpose in work were reserved for the wealthy and indulged. The tenacious, upwardly mobile middle class only had one goal — to achieve a level of income that would guarantee financial security. Give you enough to acquire a house, a car you could afford, a retirement account, enough funds to pay for your kids’ college, and a family vacation or two a year.
If this is your approach to work, ask yourself — an I getting paid fairly for the work I am doing? Am I good at what I do and does my job provide me opportunities for growth and income appreciation? Find passions outside of work that would spark joy and fulfillment. Design your work life in a way that creates time and space to indulge these outside passions.
Is work a vehicle for living your purpose?
My generation — older millennials (or Xennials as some call us)— were raised by Baby Boomers. Our parents’ approach to work couldn’t help but rub off on us. And yet, as leaders, we are building teams in a world where the flighty, yet furiously determined younger millennials / Gen Z would quit a job without a second thought — if it didn’t enable them to live their purpose.
If purpose driven work is a non-negotiable for you, boredom and stagnation at the office can sour your insides. The gangrene can seep into every aspect of your life.
If you’re a bored employee looking for purpose, how do you know it’s time to say farewell?
Have you built enough expertise?
If you were to leave your job today, would you — years down the line — confidently be able to speak to the experience and expertise you built in your current role? If you were called to weigh in as an expert, would you embarrass yourself? If the answer is a ‘yes’ or a ‘maybe’, there’s more to learn in your current role. Stay put.
Have you thoroughly mined opportunities for learning and growth?
If you leave your current job, chances are you’re not coming back to it. So, it’s in your best interest to milk it for all it’s worth. You don’t want to regret all that you could have done once you’ve left your role.
Also think about how your current job can help lay the foundation for your future career. Can you build connections or learn new skills that would give you a head start in your next role?
What would your team say about you when you’re gone?
If you’re leading a team, have you fulfilled your commitments to people you hired? Do you have a promising future leader on your team that you want to promote? If you’ve hired and developed them, think about whether you’re okay with a new leader swooping in for an easy win on their meteoric rise.
Build and cement your tribe before you go. This tribe will serve you long after you’ve moved on from your current role. Your team carries your brand with them everywhere they go. What will they say about you?
Is your house in order?
Long after you’re gone, people will remember the condition of your house when you left it. Leaving things undone — in haste — out of boredom — will negatively impact your reputation and your future career prospects.
You may leave a job, but you will never fully escape it. It will always occupy pride of place on your resume. For future job applications, you will have to explain what you accomplished in your current role.
Even if you go on to achieve tremendous heights in your career, people will always find and raise the rock of your past performance — if they find worms, you better believe they will be served in a public buffet. This is particularly true if you stay within the same company.
Before you leave, think about the person taking over for you. How will they talk about you? Will they be complimentary? When you sweep problems under a rug, there is always a risk that your successor will find them.
Don’t let boredom compel you to immediately sprint away from a job. Plan your way out instead — thoughtfully and strategically.
Create a path that allows you to stay engaged while navigating your way out with dignity and forethought. Commit to a timeline and then define key milestones you need to achieve.
Treat each job as an opportunity to expand your skills and decorate your resume. This will position you for long-term career success.
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