Help! It’s January and I must change my life immediately!

If I didn’t already know that it’s January, I would be able to tell by the volume of incoming contacts from people who are “ready to make a change.” This is natural, and the desire to do a makeover on one’s career or job situation is right up there with losing weight.

Here’s the thing – changing jobs is not necessarily the first action to consider. It could be a knee-jerk reaction to what is simply a temporarily unsatisfying situation. As a career coach, here are some of the questions I help people look at to get clarity:

1. What have you gained from this job? In what ways has it better prepared you to advance in your career? Or, how has it helped you remain employable? What specifically do you want or need more of in your next job?

2. What is your relationship with your boss? What have you learned about how you want to be managed? Have you done your part toward polishing your boss’s professional brand? Is there anything you will choose to do differently with your next supervisor? Are there changes you might make right now?

3. What are the values of your company or organization? Have they been communicated to you? Do you believe in them? If not, what values would you look for in another employer?

When these questions are answered honestly, most people can recognize and take ownership of what has driven their current situation. Then, if a choice is made to leave, it’s from a position of purposeful direction rather than a reactionary flight from stress.

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