"I can't stand my work!" "I'm sick of this job!"  "I'm ready for a career change!"

Whether it's feeling exhausted from the long hours, getting overlooked for a promotion, or fighting never-ending power struggles --sometimes we just want to quit.  If we've tried everything, and the work environment remains toxic, we need to put ourselves first.  Leave as quickly, and as gracefully, as possible.  Many times, however, there isn't that sense of urgency.  Our jobs are just plain boring.  We find ourselves dreading going back to work after the weekend.  Or we wonder if it's all been a big mistake.  Maybe after all those years of studying, and trying to get ahead in our career, we didn't pick the right profession.  Or maybe our career is no longer--or never was--right for us.

1.  Don't make dramatic exits. In today's economy, most of us don't have the luxury of stomping out of the office saying:  "That's it.  I"ve had it with this job!" Try to be realistic.  Consider the consequences to your professional reputation--and personal integrity--of a dramatic exit.  Most jobs come with some degree of frustration. Often what sets a professional apart from the crowd is how they manage stress, uncertainty and change.

2.  Ask what's really driving you crazy.  When we're feeling stressed-out it's easy to place the blame on someone else.  The boss who can't manage or delegate. Co-workers who don't pull their weight.  Sometimes we want more money, more independence or more flexibility.  Other times we're angry at being passed over, again, for a promotion -- or at a comment made by our boss during our last performance review.  Or maybe we've asked ourselves some tough questions, sized-up our situation and prospects, and now are ready to make a successful career change.

3.  Think of making a career shift.  Before you run off to look for another job, or make a big career change, slow down. Are there options other than quitting?  What would have to change in your current job so that you wouldn't want to leave?  If you changed jobs, but stayed within your same profession, could you find something that might be a better fit?  Are there any new and growing businesses that might be looking for someone with your skills, knowledge and experience?  Is making a career shitf--rather than a career change--an option?

4. Ask for insight and input.   Under stress, It's hard to get a clear picture--especially of ourselves.   Ask for insight and input from others--both inside and outside your profession. How would they describe your strengths?  Where do they see opportunities for someone like you?  Do they think you could transfer your skills & strengths to another career? What does their career path look like?  Did they make a successful career change?

5.  Invest in personal and professional development. If you're lucky, you have a job where there are opportunities for ongoing training and professional development.  Learning new ways to manage time and stress--at work and at home--can take some of the pressure off.  Continuing education and professional accreditation can help explore career interests and future options.  Improving communication skills and project management can lead to everything from getting a promotion--to developing greater self-awareness and personal effectiveness.

6.  Build your unique career portfolio. Don't get stuck on following a traditional career path. Like many popular book titles, there is something to "taking control of your own career".  Think of building your own career "portfolio"--rather than adding just one more job to your resume.  As marketing experts remind us, it's important to "stand out from the crowd".  This can be everything from "giving back" by doing volunteer work, developing your "personal brand, " or successfully transferring your skills and experience to a new business. Discover and develop your unique combination of strengths, personality and values. 

What's in your career portfolio?


Read related article:  I'VE HAD IT WITH THIS JOB!...

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