If you work 40 hours a week for 40 years – you will spend 80,000 hours of your life working. This is likely more time than you spend with your family, pursuing hobbies or even sleeping. What you do, who you work with etc. are critical for a life well lived.
When we look at changing our careers, we always consider things such as salary raise, personality match with the team, stability of the company etc. Let’s look at some deeper questions aimed toward longer term job satisfaction.
1) Is the job mentally engaging?
Do you have a wide variety of tasks, will you have autonomy to be creative, will you be pushed to try something new and solve problems new to you? Routine work, going through the same process over and again is a slippery slope to dissatisfaction. Look for something that challenges you, even scares you a little. After all, if you have 5 years experience in the same role – do you have 5 years experience, or 1 years experience 5 times over?
2) Is the company diverse?
Members coming from different generations, educational backgrounds, cultural and economic upbringings, industries will add fresh perspectives and foster a creative, collaborative environment. If everyone in the company joined as fresh grads, from a similar academic background, no wonder there is a ‘senpai-kohai’ culture – age becomes the sole differentiator.
3) How will your future value be in the market?
When we change companies, our intent usually is to stay there and develop our careers for years to come. The problem is that no company, big or small can guarantee this. Any new role you take on, you need to build new achievements, develop or upgrade your skills. Think ‘worst case’ scenario: if you try, and fail, what do you learn and what experience do you gain? Will that experience complement the tools you already have and therefore add to your value in the market?
4) What can you leverage vs how much can you grow?
Mid career, you are paid a certain salary and hold a position based on your skills and experience. Though jumping into something completely new can be exciting, if you cannot leverage your existing skills, network etc. then you cannot expect to maintain your income and status in the business. On the other hand, doing the same thing at another company, possibly for more cash is a fast-track to boredom. Ideally, look for something where you add value with your experience, but also gives you room to try something fresh.
5) Does the work have a bigger purpose?
This comes with age. As we gain life experience, we start to care more about the impact our work and our life has. Is our work meaningful? Will it make the world a better place for our children to grow up in? We can only use the money we earn while we live, however the legacy we leave lasts forever.