Mondays. Everyone can relate to that feeling of resignation with a tinge of dread - back to work after a short break.
Mondayitis is quite normal. For most people, it dissipates by the end of the day and feelings are at their relative “normal.” In fact, research from Sy-Miin Chow finds that “Blue Monday” is less about negative feelings toward work, and more about lessening the type of joy one feels at the weekend.
What happens when your “case of the Mondays” is more like an everyday occurrence? Sometimes it’s not something you feel acutely, but more of a vague sense of malaise, indifference, or lack of joy. Sometimes it manifests as impatience at work, frustration, or a lack of interest in what you’re doing. Often you get the feeling of being stuck.
Is it time for a career change?
“I’m thinking of quitting my job,” or “I’m thinking of giving up my business” are issues that I often hear from clients. The thing is that most often, they’re still doing what they’re doing because it’s simply not an easy choice to quit.
There are fears involved with any sort of change and of course, practical questions too. What will I be doing if I’m not doing that? How will I keep a roof overhead and food on the table?
Then there are questions as to whether you’re seeking a drastic solution to a temporary or minor problem. How do you know it’s really time to make a change? Here are a few signs to look out for that may suggest a change is needed:
1. The job is making you sick. Whether physically or mentally, you need to take it seriously if your job is causing illness. Long-term effects of stress can include things like high blood pressure, inflammation, heart disease and of course, anxiety and depression.
If your job is leading to sickness then something absolutely needs to change. Whether that’s quitting the job itself or finding ways to minimize whatever is causing the stress, it’s important to take it seriously.
2. Overall malaise and boredom at work. If you just can’t get excited for what you do and there’s no real likelihood of changing that, then it may be time for a career change.
Boredom and depression have a close link, according to psychological research. Long-term disengagement can increase feelings of depression. It can also lead to riskier behaviors, for example drinking more alcohol, taking drugs or overeating in an attempt to alleviate boredom.
3. Your skills are being underutilized. This can often be a reason behind boredom and disengagement, potentially even resentment of the workplace.
If you are repeatedly passed over for promotions or more challenging projects, despite knowing you’d be a good candidate, it may be time to look elsewhere. The caveat here is that you’ve tried to get your skills better-used to no avail. If you’re turning up every day and making no moves toward change, it might be better to see if speaking up helps first.
4. Your values and the company values do not gel. We all have values that are important to us, and if you find yourself working for a company where there is a mismatch, it can create an uneasy or “stuck” feeling.
5. Your boss or the people around you behave badly. If you’re often a target for egregious or inappropriate behavior, then that is not a work environment to stick around in. Toxicity in the workplace can have a detrimental effect on your mental and physical well-being. It’s a trigger for chronic stress and related health issues.
6. You don’t recognize the person you’ve become (and you don’t like it). “Katherine” described her journey from bright young hopeful, to tired and jaded. “I was excited to have the opportunity to work in an industry for which I thought I had a clear career path,” she says.
“It was fine for the first three or four years, and I advanced rapidly, but I soon found that in the management teams, there was a rampant 'office politics' environment. I felt like I had to play those games as well, in order to be a 'favorite,' but doing so ate at my soul. I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize myself. I was tired, cynical and unhealthy.”
Katherine ultimately self-evaluated and quit that job, exchanging it for a much kinder environment. “I can be myself here,” she says.
Is it time for a career change? If you don’t recognize the person in the mirror, it may be a sign.
There are other potential signs that it’s time for a career change which I haven’t covered here - you might simply feel you can contribute better somewhere else, for example. Whatever the scenario is, here are practical steps to take to help with your decision-making:
What lies at the bottom of your feeling that it’s time for a change? First, assess the actual work that you do:
Another important question is whether your feelings have more to do with the people whom you work with, or even clients of the company. If you otherwise enjoy your work but feel stressed by the people you deal with, is there anything you can do about that?
As an example, business owners whom I know have made some very strong decisions about the types of clients they will and won’t work with. Let’s face it, not everyone is an “ideal” client, and sometimes there are people or companies who are more work to deal with than is worth it for your business. Where the clients they deal with have been a source of unhappiness, clearly defining who they want to work with and “firing” any clients who don’t fit that has been a successful strategy.
Self-evaluation should have helped you to clearly define what is behind your feelings of unease about your career. With these problems listed out, you can now look at some potential solutions.
A “solutions document” is a simple tool. On the left-hand side of a piece of paper or spreadsheet, write down each issue individually. On the right-hand column, write down some potential solutions. For example, “I am exhausted from the long commute” might have solutions like “request transfer to X office” or “present a case to (manager) for working from home two days each week.”
Do you feel that your skillset isn’t fully utilized? It’s easy to get into a routine at work where certain skills you may have don’t get used. If you’re working for someone, the chances are they don’t even realize you have these skills if it has never come up before.
Write down an inventory of the skills you have, noting any that aren’t being used. It’s helpful to rate your level of competency and enjoyment of the skill as well. For example, you might be highly competent at something but hate doing it. Sometimes there may be an opportunity for you to take on projects that use these skills. Another possibility is a lateral move to a different role. This can help you to build on underutilized skills and develop new competencies.
At the very least, taking inventory of your skills helps you to define in your own mind what you’re looking for. It can help you to form the basis for redoing your resumé or setting up alerts for job vacancies.
It can be hard taking a step back and being objective over something you are deeply involved with. This is where a good career coach can provide invaluable assistance. They can help you to really get to the bottom of your career questions and uncover potential solutions.
It’s common to feel stuck when it comes to career decision-making. A good coach doesn’t advise you to pick one route over another, but they will help you work through so that you’re comfortable making a decision for yourself. They can even help you with a plan to get a new job, if that’s your decision.
Mondayitis isn’t something that should stay with you every day of the week. If you’re plagued with dread at the idea of going to work, if you just can’t muster enthusiasm, or if you’re openly wondering whether it’s time to quit your job, evaluate the situation seriously.
Any kind of change is often hard to make, but if you’re unhappy, taking action is important. You’ll find that once you get momentum around assessing and evaluating your career, it becomes easier to take the steps you need.
You don’t always have to take drastic action. Sometimes you’ll find that if you dig down, a few key changes could make all the difference. If it is time for a career change, make sure you have support. It’s not likely to be an easy change, but a shift toward something that gets you out of bed on a Monday will pay off in the end.
Dr. Todd Snyder
Psychologist | Productivity Coach | Decision Consultant