The Washington Post Sunday

Signs you’re not in the right career

- This special advertisin­g section was prepared by independen­t writer Kate Johanns. The production of this section did not involve the news or editorial staff of The Washington Post.

Sometimes job dissatisfa­ction is the result of a big change on the job—a new boss, a new product line, a new software system—but often it sneaks up on you. One day you wake up and realize your feelings about work have moved from positive/neutral to negative. Here are some of the key signs you’re not in the right career.

The Sunday scares start earlier every week

It’s normal to start thinking about the week ahead on Sunday afternoon, and it’s also normal to have some jitters, especially if you’ve got a big presentati­on or meeting with the boss. But if anxiety about the coming week is dominating every weekend, it’s time to take stock of your situation. What’s making you nervous? Is it the environmen­t or culture at your specific workplace, or is it factors related to your industry? Answering that question will help you know whether you need to simply switch companies or change industries altogether.

You’re cranky/irritable/impatient with your loved ones

Is your workplace stress spilling over at home? If you find yourself irritable and impatient with your partner, children, or other loved ones, ask yourself whether you have less energy to devote to them because you’re dealing with work challenges. Most of us spend at least 40 hours a week on work, with additional time for commuting, so our jobs are a key factor in our overall mental well-being. Remember, you should work to live, not live to work, so if your job is making you less effective in your personal life, consider a change.

You never find yourself experienci­ng “flow”

In psychology, “flow” is a state of full immersion in an activity—and it’s so satisfying. It’s the feeling you get when you’re in the groove completing a task and lose all track of time. Generally, it’s easiest to achieve flow when you’re doing an activity you find enjoyable that also possesses the right level of challenge. We often seek out hobbies that induce “flow,” but in a job that’s the right fit, you should regularly feel it, too. It’s unreasonab­le to expect you’ll love every aspect of your job, but you should be able to point to something that leaves you with a productive, satisfied feeling.

You’ve maxed out your potential

Not every position is meant to be our forever position. The days of being a “company man” and sticking around to earn a grandfathe­r clock after 30 years are long gone. Signs you’ve maxed out your potential at your current gig could include boredom and no potential for advancemen­t in terms of position, responsibi­lity or salary.

You don’t believe in your company’s mission or values

Workplace happiness doesn’t mean you have to bleed the corporate colors, but if your personal values aren’t aligned with your company’s mission or values, you might find yourself struggling, especially given some of the hot topics in society today. For instance, do you feel aligned with your company’s reaction to social justice issues or its diversity, equity and inclusion initiative­s? If these topics are important to you, but your employer has gone a different direction, the mismatch could make you feel less satisfied at work. This can spill over into industry as well: Do your values personally align with the industry’s overall direction?

The writing is on the wall

Sometimes you can see when the end is near for a position—for instance, when a new software system is implemente­d that significan­tly automates a major portion of the work you used to do. Or maybe your company is being acquired by another, and most of the employees in your position at the buying company live halfway across the country. If you can see your position is on the endangered list, it is time took for a new position, potentiall­y in another aspect of the industry.

Change is rarely easy—but neither is staying in a position or career that isn’t right for you. It can be incredibly freeing to start looking for a career that’s a better match for you.

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