“Stephanie,” a talented corporate executive, has been enjoying a brilliant career. But now she’s getting discouraged. Her job has changed and she feels she’s not using her skills and talents as much as she had before. She’s feel overwhelmed and underprepared.
Maybe, she said, it’s time for a career change.
The truth is, workplace stress seems to be an essential component of most jobs.
Every so often a client says, “I want to move to a career with less stress. Maybe if I took a lower level job, I’d make less money but I’d be happier.”
The odds are the opposite will happen when you try to escape stress. Typically stress is associated with loss of control in any environment. When you take a step back to a lower ranked job, you give up some control. If you’re a good manager you might get frustrated with your new boss, who might seem less competent. You might give up control of your time and your activities.
The question to ask is, “Where is the new stress coming from?”
If you’re learning new skills, you might be stressed in the short term but you’re getting in shape to move forward in your career. You might be out of your comfort zone because you’re growing so fast. And if you’re a rising star, you’ll need a broader skill set as you move up the hierarchy of a corporation. If you’ve always done marketing, you need some exposure to accounting and finance; if you’re a techie or number cruncher you’ll need exposure to marketing and maybe HR.
If your stress comes from an unreasonable boss or if you’re getting danger signals about your job, you’ve got a more difficult and delicate decision. Sometimes you’re getting early warnings of a career crisis. And sometimes you just need to ride out the storm.
Unless you’re getting very clear indicators of a crisis, there’s no need to take action immediately. Sometimes a situation will resolve itself over time. Sometimes you will gain perspective by stepping away for awhile or talking to someone who’s outside the company.
If you’re looking for objectivity and confidentality, check out the Career Strategy Session. It’s a good way to figure out what’s best for you and your career.