5 Signs it’s Time for a Change and How to Take the 1st Steps

Post written by guest blogger Charlesice Hawkins, Detailee within OITE.

In science there is often a looming question: do you try for hundredth time or do you try something else? The answer, of course, is that it depends. It depends on what is most important, it depends on why it didn’t work, it depends on the goal, it depends on the options, and it depends on the significance. The issue is complicated further by considerations of other people, their expectations, their involvement, and sometimes their money. Change can be scary but deciding to make a change is equally terrifying. Deciding to change careers or change an aspect of one’s career follows many of the same considerations as an experiment. When its working, there is no need for change unless to improve, but short of an explosion – literally or figuratively – here are five signs that it is time for a change.

1.     Avoidance
It is common in an environment with poor fit that someone will be distracted or ignore certain tasks. It’s okay to get distracted occasionally, it can be beneficial to change focus temporarily, but active and continued avoidance of different tasks can be a sign of dissatisfaction and that it’s time for a change.

2.     Stagnation
There is value in mastering a skill or a job, but things are always changing especially in the age of technology. Our careers should foster growth, not necessarily “climbing the ladder,” but rather providing an environment for learning. Persistent boredom is a sign that it’s time for a change.

3.     Self-destruction
Self-sabotage is the extreme version of self-destruction, but there are many more subtle ways that we can undermine ourselves like continual stress, skipping meals, ignoring pain and/or problems. When a job starts to affect any aspect of someone’s health negatively, it is time for a change.

4.     Isolation
Self or forced isolation is an indicator of extreme discomfort. Whether it be due to interpersonal interactions or something like depression, isolation can not only be a bad sign, it can perpetuate many problems and should be addressed immediately.

5.     Resentment
Resentment is a natural manifestation of unaddressed issues and it is malignant; it will grow, and it will spread aggressively making change imperative.

Generally, if someone dreads going to work for reasons other than that they would rather binge Netflix or go to the beach, there is likely a problem. The first step for solving any problem is recognizing that there is one. Any of the above five signs are a strong indicator that it’s time to think about one’s environment carefully. Consider what is important and what takes priority now. Think of small changes that can be implemented to help inform future decisions or if something bigger needs to happen. Change is never easy, but it is often a platform for growth. Take time for oneself and seek outside help if unsure of what to do or how to do what is necessary. If you are a trainee at the NIH, remember that there are wellness and career resources (one-on-one appointments and workshops) available to you through the OITE.

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