My first job after college was amazing!

I moved back to my hometown of San Diego and began working on a "re-start" within a 5-year-old company. It was a chance to reinvigorate the brand and launch something entirely new. I was lucky to have an incredible amount of freedom and autonomy to make work fun (and productive). I got to contribute my millennial perspective and my fresh-out-of-college whimsy. People said to me, "You've made my work fun again!" and "I love your fresh ideas." It was a dream. Until it wasn't.

With some changes to leadership, I ended up with a superior who didn't exactly welcome my energy or affirm my forward-thinking. He actually called me “abrasive" for asserting my opinions.


Anyway, I know old habits die hard and I wasn't about to make it my mission to change this guy. After six months of sticking it out and mulling over some really important questions, I realized it was best to move on (1.5 years at the company altogether).

Resigning from a job or making a big career change can be, quite frankly, terrifying. It usually means a huge life change. But, I am passionate about making the sometimes difficult, well-thought out decisions to make your dream job a reality.

I encourage you to consider these questions, before making the decision to leave your job.

Here are 5 questions to ask yourself before you make a career change.

1. Why did I take my current job and am I getting out of it what I expected?

Jot down what you like about your current job (Pay? Stability? Coworkers? Flexibility? Projects?). Consider making a Mind Map-- a page you fill with non-linear ideas (think bubbles and lines connecting random thoughts that jump into your head). Write down why you took your current job, what your expectations were, and what you are actually getting.


2. How do I feel before and after work?

Is it the work environment that is making you unhappy? Is it some other unrelated factor in your life that is causing you to be more anxiety-prone that usual?

Check in with your body before and after the work day. This can be a great indication of your feelings toward your career and the work that you are doing everyday. Do you wake up dreading the day or eager to work?  Work is where we spend the majority of our waking hours, so we certainly cannot settle for apathy and unhappiness. Beyond acknowledging your emotions, you should identify what events throughout the day elicit specific responses. Maybe you don’t know where to start or how to identify your feelings or that which has caused them. Try this: Keep a journal for a week and jot down what is occurring during the moments in which you are experiencing positive emotions and negative emotions. Are you ending the day feeling accomplished, stressed, insignificant, energized? Look for themes so that you can identify what kinds of days and what types of events have you feeling your best.

3. What do I value in a job?

Is it leadership opportunities? Having a mentor? Flexibility? Creative freedom?

When I left my job at the startup, I realized that one thing I really valued was having a great manager. This is actually the reason I took my current job and not another job at a cool, funky design agency downtown. I knew my boss had the potential to be a great mentor and I was looking for someone willing to invest in me. Be honest with yourself about what you need and see if there is a way for you to satisfy that need within your current job. If there isn’t, perhaps it’s time to start looking.

4. What are my gifts & Strengths?

Well how do I sum this one up?!

I honestly believe that our Strengths can be the greatest tool to discover what we might LOVE in a career. Although Strengths don't act like a fortune teller, it can give you extremely valuable insight into what you do really well and what you enjoy spending time doing. For example, after understanding that I have the Strength of Harmony, I learned that I thrive in low-stress environments where collaboration and compromise is encouraged. After understanding my Strength of Woo (Winning Others Over), I recognized how much I valued and needed the opportunity to regularly meet new people to creates relationships.

If you haven't taken StrengthsFinder, go do it! I'd love to talk about your Strengths with you!

5. Am I in the right line of work? 

Since I can remember, I've loved talking to strangers. I’ve always loved learning people's stories and would find myself in deep conversations with strangers on a plane or at the grocery store. I think the fact that I am genuinely interested in getting to know others makes it easy for people to quickly open up to me. It's not hard to feel a deep connection with someone when you hear stories of their joys and pains. If money were no object, I would meet as many people as possible and spend time hearing their stories. And the truth is, this is pretty much exactly what I get to do everyday! Learning about my Strengths clarified some of my passions for me and gave me freedom to go in this direction.

If money were no object for you, what would you do? The answer to this question can be a clue into a new path or career option for you!

Tough situations at work can be disheartening. In a moment of emotion or high stress, we might feel the impulse to pack up our desk, take our fair share of the free kitchen snacks, and stomp on out of there, but I urge you to think first and take a pulse on these 5 things.