While many young people enter the workforce bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, that enthusiasm can wear out quickly. According to one study, workers over the age of 35 are twice as likely to hate their jobs as workers under 35. The likelihood is even higher for workers over 55.
Regardless of your age, you don’t need to stay in a job you hate. If you find yourself unfulfilled at work, assess the situation by asking yourself these six questions:
1. Are You Feeling Unfulfilled Because of the Work You Do or the Environment You’re in?
The role itself may not be the problem. A less than ideal work environment can make otherwise enjoyable work into a nightmare. On the flip side, if you’re unhappy in your role, it may distort your perception of your workplace.
2. Are Your Expectations Realistic?
Take a look at what you’re hoping to get out of your job. Do you want growth potential? A sense of being valued? Higher earning potential? Satisfaction comes from a mix of these components, but if you’re able to prioritize their importance to you, you’ll be in a better position to figure out what would make you happiest. If you can’t attain what you want in your current role, you’ll know what to look for in your next position.
3. What’s the Biggest Change Necessary for You to Be Happy in Your Current Role?
There may be several things bothering you about your current situation. Making an effort to address just one of those things may make you feel better. You may even find that changing one thing positively impacts your other areas of concern.
Talk to your manager about anything you might be able to change. If you can’t have a completely flexible schedule, for example, maybe you could you shift your hours. Would taking a responsibility off your plate and delegating it to someone else free up your time to work on the things you enjoy more? Work on one thing at a time and you might just turn your situation around without having to find a new role.
4. Are You Capable of Major Change?
Wanting something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for you. Ask yourself: “What would it take for me to make the changes that will get me to where I want to go?” Would it involve going back to school, perhaps even taking out loans to do so? Only you know what you can commit to and what you can handle. Be honest about both what you want and your ability to make it happen.
5. Are You Looking in the Right Places?
Many of us have limited experience with career paths outside of our own. The right job for you might be a position you don’t even know exists yet. Be sure to research a wide range of open positions to see what roles are available for a person with your skills. Broadening your view of what’s possible can bring clarity to your search for fulfillment.
6. Are You Networking Enough?
Most people find jobs through networking, and regardless of your age, it’s important to gain perspective from those who are both senior and junior to you. Many of us seek the advice of those who are more experienced, but younger workers know a thing to two! Be sure to pick their brains as you search for a new role or career path.
A version of this article originally appeared on the Atrium Staffing blog.
Michele Mavi is Atrium Staffing‘s resident career expert.