Making a career change can be a legitimately scary proposition. Work definitely takes up many of our waking hours and can also be a central aspect of our identities. It also pays the rent. So, taking job-related risks can have real, and negative, consequences. At the same time, avoiding smart risks that can help you advance your career can also negatively impact you. Below are five signs that, by avoiding that next step, you are actually sabotaging yourself.
1. It's been a long time since you got a raise.
If you’re performing well at your job, it’s not unreasonable to hope for an annual pay increase. In fact, some companies make salary adjustments an automatic part of yearly performance reviews. If this isn’t your situation, it’s important to learn how to initiate conversations about pay with your supervisor. Asking for a raise can be awkward, partially because we have strong cultural taboos around talking about money. There are also ineffective ways of asking for a raise that can burn bridges rather than increase your pay. However, research indicates that open conversations about salary can help women and people of color get compensated more fairly. There are also things you can do to prepare for a conversation with your manager that will increase your chances of a raise. There can be good reasons not to ask for a raise at work, but indecision isn’t one of them.
2. You’re not learning new things.
When was the last time you learned something new at work? There is mounting research evidence that learning has enormous psychological and health benefits. The office is a natural place to engage in lifelong learning. Not only do we spend much of our lives there, but getting new skills can also have career benefits. If you’ve been in your position a long time, it can feel comfortable to be on autopilot. It’s true that stretch projects and certifications often involve added responsibility, time, and even money. However, not investing in your own learning can have costs, too.
3. You have unresolved conflicts with colleagues.
Workplace conflict is inevitable: after all, we spend almost 8 hours a day with coworkers working on high-stakes projects. While there’s probably no way to get around conflict being uncomfortable, there are ways to handle it constructively. In fact, when handled well, conflict can lead to deeper team relationships and more creative solutions to problems.
4. You’re staying in a job that is no longer a good fit.
Looking for a new job can be terrifying, even if you don’t really like your current gig. However, there are times when looking for a new job is likely worth the risk. If you’ve tried some of the ideas above to improve your situation and are still feeling miserable, it might be worth exploring new opportunities. It’s also important to remember that part of the interview process is you evaluating the company, not just them evaluating you. Doing some research during your interview process can help you decide whether a potential employer is a good fit. The anonymous reviews by other women on Fairygodboss are a great place to start.
Taking that next step, whether it’s initiating a tough conversation, taking on a stretch project, or looking for a new position, can be anxiety-provoking. Just remember that sticking with the status quo is also a decision — and one that can have costs as well. Taking risks can be worth it, particularly when you’ve done your homework in advance.
Rebecca Fraynt has a PhD in Clinical Psychology and is an all-around healthcare nerd. She lives near Seattle with her husband, toddler, and two rescue chihuahuas. When she's not working or chasing her dogs or child around the house, she's guzzling coffee, reading, or binge watching Star Trek.