It was the sixth week in my new position and a dark cloud was already hanging over me. It was a familiar feeling- getting out of bed in the morning and feeling a sense of dread.
This was a stark contrast to the month and a half before when I had boasted proudly to family, friends and Instagram followers about my exciting new job that was the chance for a fresh start.
Sounds familiar? Turns out, you're not the only one...
I had quickly worked my way through the usual steps when you don't like your job, (read more about these here), but this time something felt different. Perhaps it is my age or the stage I am at in my career, but I was simply not ready to compromise and wait it out to ‘see if it will get better'. I wasn't willing to stay in a job I didn't like for the sake of it, and so, with that in mind, I decided to take action.
I won't belittle the emotional rollercoaster of the past few months. It has been a challenging time, in which I have felt confused, nervous and frustrated. More than anything I felt lonely and isolated in my decision-making.
I have now left the role and will soon be starting my next venture, but in the meantime I am compelled to write about my experience to help those in a similar predicament.
If you are worried about leaving a new position sooner than you expected- read on.
1. Don't panic
Most likely you had to endure a gruelling interview process to land your new job, not to forget the discomfort of handing your notice in at your old position and serving a notice period during which you probably spent most of the time daydreaming about how fabulous your new job was going to be. It is no wonder the shock of not liking your job has caused panic to ensue and, if you are anything like me, question every career decision you’ve ever made.
When the panic sets in, take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
Remind yourself: this is just a season, and likely a stepping stone to something else, something more suited to you.
Ask yourself: will this job be something I am worried about in five years time? Most likely, it will be a distant memory and one of the many career lessons learned along the way.
2. Don’t blame yourself
Traditional interview processes are flawed as it is often impossible to understand from just a few hours of meetings what the role will entail and whether it will be a good culture fit.
I spent a lot of time beating myself up about what I had gotten myself into, feeling guilty that I had ‘chosen’ the wrong job and made yet another career detour. However, there are many reasons that your position isn't working out.
Perhaps the role/company were not presented to you clearly enough during the interview process. Or perhaps you were blinded by the possibility of an exciting new opportunity and perceived it through rose-tinted glasses. When a job isn’t a good fit, it can be the fault of both employee and the employer, or neither. Sometimes, the only way for you to know is to work in the role- so stop blaming yourself for trying.
This experience has taught me a valuable lesson- to probe more in relation to the role itself, daily tasks and company culture and, if possible, to speak to different employees to hear how they feel about the company. When contemplating a new job offer, be slightly sceptical (some call it 'realistic') and don't presume that the job will be as exactly outlined in the job description.
3. Do what's right for you, and not for others
There is a very strong preconception that moving jobs quickly after starting a new position, or 'job-hopping' as they say, will put you on the back foot in your career. Because of this, when you try to share your predicament with others for much-needed advice and support, don't be surprised to hear that the responses will mainly sound similar to 'give it a chance', 'you need time to learn the role' or the strange piece of advice which I hear on repeat : 'wait at least one year before you leave' (side note- one of my pet peeves is when people place fake deadlines on how long they need to stay in their job).
I'm not saying don't turn to others for guidance or ignore advice from your loved ones, but bear in mind that although they may see you suffering, they are not the ones who have to get out of bed every morning and spend hours each day doing something that doesn’t feel right. This is your career, and your decision, so don’t be afraid to follow your instincts and do what is right for you.
4. Make a Plan
As miserable as I was in my quest to move on from my current position, I knew that I would feel better if I had a concrete plan in place.
Start making your exit plan: set a date for yourself that you would like to leave your position, research companies and roles that sound attractive to you and reach out to others to find out more information.
As soon as I started taking action, the sense of feeling trapped lifted slightly and I was able to put the panic aside and think more clearly about what the future had in store.
5. Ask yourself- What have I learnt?
Although the past six months in my position was a difficult time in my career, I can't pretend it hasn't served a purpose. I have learnt a lot, about myself and about my wants and needs in a job role and a workplace.
Even before you have left your new position, try to focus on what you can come away with from this experience, the lessons you have learnt and how you will implement this in your future career choices.
I am a strong believer that what we choose to do every day in our career is central to our happiness. When you don’t like your job, it can affect everything- from your mental and physical health to your relationships. Don't compromise on your career choice. After you have given it a reasonable amount of time and effort (for me, that looked like five months) make your decision to leave.
It might be the biggest cliche around, but life is short- don’t waste it doing something you don’t enjoy.
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