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Sheryl Crow once sang, a change would do you good. When it comes to work, this holds true – whether it’s moving within the same company, or transforming your career. By Marcia Dragon

The average person can expect to change jobs several times in their lifetime – generally, it’s unrealistic to expect a role that you may have once loved to stay a perfect match, as your needs, desires and priorities grow with you. For instance, a hectic, jet-setting job may have rocked your boat when you started working; but 10 years down the road – with dehydrated skin, eye bags and a couple of kids – you might no longer relish its challenges.

And this mismatch awakens an inner tug-of-war that could leave you unhappy at work – or ready for a change.


Earlier this year, Kevin Ho, 39, left his post as the hotshot head of investment advisory for one of the largest European banks. Even though he had just delivered in excess of $100 million revenue for it, he wanted something else: “[The] decision to find a better work-life balance, as well as to work out more mid-career choices, was led largely by the increasing need [I felt] to give back, as well as to align my spiritual life.”

For Alison Lee, 35, her decision to make a change was based on a combination of factors. “I’d reached a crossroads of sorts with my last job. It was a tumultuous time for the company and I felt like I had no place in it anymore. At the same time, my husband and I had discussed starting a family,” she explains.

Indeed, companies can play a crucial role in the “stay or go” decision – especially if the company culture does not offer opportunities for growth, a healthy remuneration package and good leadership. In the case of 32-year-old Emily David, she had the opportunity to work her way up the ranks in the same company over 10 years, allowing her to work on different projects and across several departments.

“The work is what I love to do. I also love the people I worked with and the overall company vibe,” she says. Having great bosses who believed and trusted in her also pushed her to stay.

Then you have people like 36-year-old Stan Lee, who identified an industry that he knew he loved – marketing – and made a business out of it. The owner of Muse Inc, a seven-year-old regional experiential-marketing agency, he says: “I strongly believe one should always keep their career exciting and make sure that it adds value to his or her life. It’s not just a job. It’s part of who you are.”

True, considering the amount of time people spend working; but finding a job or career that gives you satisfaction, fits your personal goals, suits your skills and challenges you, is no mean feat.


It’s easy to know when it’s clearly time to move on: If you find yourself disinterested in your work, constantly at loggerheads with your boss or co-workers and just hating having to get out of bed each new workday.

But what if your situation isn’t as straightforward as that? Perhaps, while you’re unhappy with your new job, you are bored with it as challenges are few and far between? Or maybe you feel frustrated because your boss is cruising when you want to rev things up a couple of notches? What can you do to get your adrenaline pumping for your work again?

First, congratulate yourself for identifying the problem! Knowledge is indeed power, and now that you’re empowered, you can address the problem.

Start off by speaking candidly with your boss about what you love about your job – research and present a few ideas showing how you can be a more valuable asset to the company. Take this opportunity to map out your career path (existing and hoped-for) within the organisation and identify milestones that you can work towards. Having specific targets helps you focus on the big picture – developing your career (not just the specific job) and living it up to your full potential.

In support of this move, take the initiative and volunteer to lead projects that you’re particularly passionate about, which would inject a much-needed spark into your work life – after all, success in this area will help you achieve your end goal of a fulfilling and better career. Even better, volunteer for projects beyond your current work scope – such as cross-department-projects – they may lead you to discover another facet of the business, on which you could leverage a faster, more exciting path up the corporate ladder. If your company offers in-house training, sign up for as many classes as you can, so you can develop new skills that could pave the way for a change.

Remember: To step out of an unhappy situation and achieve a satisfying career takes soul-searching, courage, support and motivation.


Naturally, there’s a lot of fear to conquer when considering changes in your profession. Instead of letting it stop you dead, look at things that cause you the greatest fear as warnings to proceed with caution.

A good amount of reflection is called for when considering making a change. Emily David set herself yearly evaluations – beyond the workplace-mandated ones – to ensure that her career and her life were in alignment. If necessary, take regular “time-outs” to evaluate your life and career.

During such a time-out, human resource expert and CEO of Achieve Group, Joshua Yim, 47, advises that people ask themselves questions, starting with whether they are sufficiently motivated in their current job to ascertain if the right environment is present. He adds that people need to “think about what [they] really want because staying in such a job [where the environment is wrong] eats into the soul.”

Let’s face it: Life is too short to waste on a job or career that doesn’t matter to you or that “kills” your spirit. Take charge – and live!

Source: ELLE Magazine, October 2011