One of the most innovative entrepreneurs in the US has his own secret to knowing when it’s time for a change of career: his alarm clock. In his autobiography, Tony Hsieh explains that, when he worked at Link Exchange years ago, his alarm had to go off at least six times before he could get out of bed – and that was on a good day. It was then that he decided to move on to another company. He started at Microsoft and, after some time, it happened again. His morning alarm rang out at least six times before he could get himself out of bed. He then left the company and created Zappos, a business devoted to online shoe shopping.
The brain, which craves new dreams and projects, also shelves fears and insecurities
Clearly this is just an example and probably not relatable to most other human beings: not to mention it is neither common to have Hsieh’s ingenuity, nor are most of us lucky enough to work in labor markets such as the US tech sector. And, let’s be honest, we are not all early risers. Nevertheless, as nuanced as all these conditions are, Hsieh is an example of how any of us can have our own unique signals telling us to get a new job at a new company, in another department, or under different management – or at least try to make a change. But how are we to recognize this sign and not confuse it with a brief ordeal that goes away with time?
Well, interestingly enough, the first sign that your body gives you is, for example, not wanting to physically get out of bed in the morning, that your motivation levels reach new lows on Sunday nights, or that you go through an extended period of time where you’re in horrible moods because of your work. After these signs and some time, your mind starts working out a reasonable explanation for this behavior. But first, your body experiences these emotions, and only after does your mind start working them out for you. This is not without reason. The brain, which craves new dreams and projects, also shelves fears and insecurities. If you decide to change work environments it is very possible that you could stumble upon doubts such as: “What if I’m making a mistake?” Because of this, whatever our body tells us is automatically “more pure” and “more sincere.” Logically, we are not talking about jobs that fail to make ends meet, where the reasoning behind these reactions is more than apparent; or of desirable opportunities that arise out of your current situation… but about more difficult decisions. So, what can we do about it?
Paying attention to different signs, we will be better prepared to turn away from something and create a strategy to begin again
First of all, pay attention to your intuitive senses. This is not to say that when you feel the slightest pit in your stomach or your sheets pull at you to stay in bed you need to find a new job. No, it means not taking these feelings for granted if they become constant, like a habitual dread every Sunday night, continuous exhaustion or an unreasonable negative attitude.
Second, talk about what happens to you openly and honestly. To give our feelings an actual form, we need to turn them into words. In order to do this, you can write them down to detach them from your mind and understand them, or even better, talk them through with someone trustworthy who won’t judge you. Simply talk these things out and always ask why.
Third, distinguish these moments: making a decision and executing it. Perhaps you know that this job isn’t the one for you, but the labor market isn’t exactly thriving at the moment. Because of this, its better to not take a decision at the wrong time to see it through.
And fourth, identify the reason why you are scared to make a move: it could be fear (i.e. children, uncertainty…), because you aren’t clear on what you want, or because you still place your trust in your current workplace… Once you identify this it will be easier to manage this fear with an action plan.
Our jobs are, without a doubt, important parts of our lives. We dedicate too many hours to them just to be dissatisfied in our work. Paying attention to different signs, we will be better prepared to turn away from something and create a strategy to begin again. Good luck!
English version by Laura Rodriguez.