Q: I am thinking about leaving my job. I have no job to go to, nor, indeed, do I hate the one I have, but I feel unfulfilled. Plus, the role is so busy I haven’t the head space to think about my future. My hunch is that I should kick back and relax for a few months and figure out what I’d like to do with the next phase of my life – and then go for it. Any thoughts? (DF, email ).
A: It may ultimately come down to your personal tolerance for uncertainty and change. Some people willingly jump off the cliff, while others shin down step by step, perhaps even retreating a few steps along the way.
I would challenge your assertion that you don't have time right now to get a fresh perspective. Taking time out to think can be overrated and distracting. I urge you to focus on what it is about your current job you dislike, whether or not you feel you have prospects in that sector, and what you have that might help you to flourish in another area.
It may well be that you are at a genuine jumping-off point, a 100 per cent career crossroads. However, faraway hills are green and there is the very real danger of going from the frying pan to the fire, or, to labour the point, throwing the baby out with the bath water.
Consider remaining in your current job while assessing your future options. I note that you are not angst ridden in it so, apart from being busy, it might be wise to stay there to get some structure and security – while embarking on the process of plotting your future.
If you jump off, where do you go then? I don't believe these mythical periods of thinking time bring the clarity people expect: as the saying goes, wherever you go, you meet yourself there.
Begin the next phase by looking closely at yourself, identifying and understanding your skills and interests, and then matching those to potential career sectors. You may well need the help of a professional to facilitate this because, with the best will in the world, family members and friends regularly offer poor advice because they only want the best for you – and ‘the best’ sometimes equates to the least risky option.
Start reading about career change. There are loads of resources online. Complete the self-assessment I outline above. Look at college courses, not to seriously consider them just yet, but to educate yourself as to the nature of new careers.
We live in a time of great opportunity. Remote working means we can work for companies all over the world without even having to leave home.
It sounds to me like you have an itch to scratch. But my general advice would be to do so within the confines of your current role and avoid over-stating the value of the ‘jumping off’.
Another point to consider is that after the year and a half we have all put down, many people are edgy in their jobs. Yours may be a COVID-19 itch, or it may be something more real: I believe you owe it to yourself to ascertain which it is before taking a dramatic step.
Find the time. Create space at the weekend. You can make this work.
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