Written by Russell Johnson
Are you giving too much in your job for what you’re getting in return?
If this question resonates for you, it may be time to find a new position, either in or outside your current organization. Indeed, it may be overdue, because a deteriorating experience of work will have been eroding your morale. It’s likely this will also have been undermining your future by lowering your expectations and goals.
Unfortunately, this process is insidious. Because the erosion of morale is gradual, far too many people become conditioned to accept it, and stay on in jobs they should leave.
The decision to leave may not be easy. However, if it’s time to move on, inaction will cause further demoralization and thus do further harm.
Here are four danger signs to watch out for. If any of them are present in your career, drastic action is probably needed.
1. Have You Stopped Growing?
As Ray Kroc of McDonald’s fame used to say, You’re either green and growing or ripe and rotting.
If you’re growing, your working life can be meaningful despite the challenges you may be experiencing.
But if you’re not growing, the rotting process will accelerate over time, and getting back onto the path of growth will become progressively harder.
We need to frequently experience the kind of absorption with work that makes us forget the clock. We need to finish the working day on a high because of what we have achieved. If this is not a regular experience for you, your growth has probably stopped or is plateauing. Meanwhile, it’s putting your future at risk.
2. Are You ‘Selling Out’?
Your job may have been fulfilling in the past, but somewhere along the way, that has been lost. The gratification you’re receiving now has nothing to do with the person you want to be or to become. You’re only staying on for what your job provides in terms of status, pay, power and perception of security.
This path is one of alienation – of becoming the anti-hero whose goals have narrowed to being all about you and perhaps your family. It’s too narrow and will harm you as well as those around you, including your loved ones. They need the example you could provide instead, of success through an attitude of abundance and a focus on a broader level of contribution, rather than of clinging to a job that diminishes you.
Are you ready to accept such a shriveled ending to the exciting journey you once believed your career could be? If that’s not acceptable to you, then it’s time to rewrite the script you’re living out.
3. Are You Sacrificing Your Mental or Physical Wellbeing?
“The greatest mistake a man can make is to sacrifice health for any other advantage,” said the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer.
Looking past the hyperbole, it is clear that if you sacrifice your health for your work, you will reduce your potential contribution. Certainly, if your work is harming your mental or physical health, you need a plan to stop or to leave it.
The best way to restore your health and wellbeing is to become acquainted, or reacquainted, with the power of bold action based on a well-developed plan and supported by the skills to implement it.
You can gain these things if you want them. They’ll enrich your career throughout the years ahead.
4. Your Income Has Plateaued and You Want to Increase It
As the CEO of your own business of one, you’re perfectly entitled to maximize your remuneration. If you believe you’re capable of earning more without contravening your other values, why shouldn’t you choose to do so?
And there’s plenty of data to show that executives who remain with their organizations for a long time, earn less than those who are nimbler.
The problem for many highly capable people is their discomfort with the process of changing jobs – and a lack of self-marketing skills.
Most people know there’s something inherently unequal about advancement and the job application process – and that the best jobs are generally obtained through networks. I frequently hear highly intelligent and motivated people say they are ‘not good at networking’.
That’s usually a valid comment. Most people do little of it. And when they do it, they often do it poorly, attempting to address a marketing issue through a sales methodology.
Like using a hammer and chisel in a bid to repair a watch that has stopped working, it will feel wrong, because it is wrong.
As Peter Drucker put it, the purpose of marketing is to make selling unnecessary. It would be best if you had the right methodology and tools.
Those who are good at self-marketing enjoy it because the process allows those whom they meet to enjoy it as well. Your success will become self-reinforcing because what was once uncomfortable has become as fulfilling as any other game that you’re good at.
Are You Standing Too Close to Your Situation?
Remember that the job market is set up by employers, for employers. That’s their right. It’s not about empowering you, however. Recruitment agents, as the agents of employers, are not in the business of empowering you either. On the contrary, it’s easier for them to justify their commissions if they can present the employer with a great candidate at a bottom-of-the-market rate.
You may need to ‘look behind the screen’ and ask what tools and techniques are available to you to achieve the outcome you want.
When you know how to market yourself effectively, you can enjoy far more significant growth and career satisfaction, as well as better mental and physical health. And you will earn far more than those who just follow the path that the job market sets before them.
So scrutinize yourself to see if any of these four signs are present. Intense corrective action may be needed, either to resolve the problem while remaining in your role, or to move on.
It can be a hard call to reset your course. However, you’ll experience the rewards very quickly when you begin building your future in the right role and the right organization. And you and all those around you will have reason to celebrate the difference you’re making.
Just remember that you don’t have to adjust your standards downward. You can be a light to others instead – a real leader, in other words.
They’re needed as much today as ever.