Our jobs occupy a huge part of our days. They give us a reason to get up in the morning, and they pay our bills.
Now, just because we have to do our job doesn’t mean it should feel that way. Ideally, work should be more than just a means to an end.
For a truly fulfilling life, our careers should be a source of satisfaction, a place where we feel challenged and valued. A place that sparks even just a little excitement and growth.
Otherwise, it would be a pretty humdrum existence.
If you’ve been feeling like your job is a boring chore you’re duty-bound to do, it might be time to evaluate. You might have outgrown your job – and it now feels like a waste of time.
And that’s cause for concern. After all, our time is an investment that we should always spend wisely.
Here are 10 signs you’ve outgrown your current job and might need to explore new horizons:
1) You watch the clock more than usual
There’s a great way to tell if you’re fully engaged in a task. It’s called “flow”.
In VeryWellMind, positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes flow as “a state of complete immersion in an activity”.
You might have experienced this when you were still new at your job, learning new systems and racking up new skills in the process.
That’s a pretty good sign that you were fully engaged in your job and enjoying it.
But these days, it feels more like you’re just passing time. It has now become a matter of clocking in and clocking out.
Which means, you no longer have flow…and that’s a real problem. Boredom is the number one sign that you don’t feel connected to your role anymore and are itching for something fresh.
So, because you’re merely biding your time, what does your day at work look like? It’s probably way different from how it used to be, because now…
2) You take a lot of breaks
I once had a co-worker who slid from that perpetually in flow state to one where he took more and more breaks, which seemed to get longer and longer as time went on.
At first glance, he seemed like a slacker. But for me, since I’d known him from the time he joined the company and witnessed his strong work ethic, it was a sign that something was off.
True enough, it turned out that he was feeling listless – not because he didn’t want to work, but because he no longer liked what he was doing.
Eventually, he did take off – he applied to a different position, still in the company but with a fresh set of tasks to spark his interest.
So, if your day pretty much looks like that, take it as a sign that you’ve been engaging in some escapism because your job no longer challenges you.
3) Lack of excitement
Like I said earlier, feeling listless or bored is a flashing indicator that you may have outgrown your job.
Compare that to your early days at your job. Didn’t you wake up with a “get up and seize the day” mindset? Didn’t you feel excited at the thought of proving your worth to the people who hired you?
Look, not every job inspires passion. I mean, let’s get real – many of us have the careers we have simply for the paycheck.
But sooner or later, that lack of passion will catch up with you, and you’ll begin wondering if this is it. If this is all life has to offer.
Newsflash: it’s not. If you don’t feel the slightest bit of enthusiasm about your job, it will show. Enthusiasm is a necessary ingredient of excellence.
I’ll be blunt – if you don’t have it, the work you turn out will be mediocre, no matter how long you’ve been doing your role.
4) No challenges
The most likely culprit why you feel bored is that there are no more challenges. No more mountains to conquer, unless it’s a mountain of paperwork that feels meaningless to you.
The bottom line is, zero challenges means you aren’t learning anything.
If you’ve mastered your tasks to the point where you can do them with your eyes closed, I’m willing to bet that you’re just running on autopilot.
I’ve been there, and I know just how deadening it can feel when you’re just going through the motions. It’s downright soul-sucking, especially if you’re a naturally curious person.
Think about your skills and talents going to waste. And think about how life is short. Too short to waste being bored and stuck where you don’t want to be.
5) You take on too much
Ironically, one other sign you’ve outgrown your job is when you take on too many responsibilities.
I can understand the rationale behind this. Because there are no more challenges, you’re basically trying to create them in an effort to satisfy your need for one.
So, you take on tasks beyond your job scope. You might even cross over to other departments, like helping the marketing team out with their projects, even though you’re in HR.
Or conversely, you’re a social media strategist who can run social media campaigns in your sleep, and you wander into HR and help the recruitment team browse through applications.
See where I’m going with this?
Obviously, that should tell you that you’re primed for new responsibilities. Anything to shake you out of your stupor!
6) There’s literally no room for growth
Sometimes, though, it’s just the sad fact that you’ve reached the highest you can climb at your company, and there’s literally nothing left to conquer.
Or maybe there is, but circumstances are such that you can’t progress. Maybe it looks like your manager is staying put, and short of scheming of ways to get them out (which I hope you don’t do!), you’re stuck a rung below them.
In that case, best to seek advancement elsewhere.
7) You have no role models
Another sign that you’ve outgrown your job is if you have no one around you to serve as an aspiration.
Every time we start at a new job, there’s always someone we look up to, isn’t it? Maybe a manager with exemplary leadership skills and tons of experience. Or even a co-worker with an excellent work ethic.
Role models, leaders, and mentors are there to inspire us and spur us on to greater heights. To challenge us to level up. If you have none, it’s hard to feel motivated day in and out.
In this regard, I’d like to share this quote that has always been helpful for me: “If you’re not the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.”
8) You don’t feel valued
What if you do still feel excited about your job and have some innovative ideas, yet they’re often dismissed?
Or your contributions go unnoticed?
That’s also another indication that you might be better served elsewhere. No matter how inspired you are, constantly having management burst your bubble can make that enthusiasm evaporate.
Plus, the fact that your ideas are brushed aside points to one other thing…
9) It no longer feels like a good fit
Basically, you’ve begun feeling like an outsider. It’s similar to how you feel when you meet up with high school friends, and you find that you’ve grown in different directions.
Everything used to click – you could relate to one another, and conversation seemed to flow effortlessly.
But now there’s a gap, and you no longer feel that same sense of community.
In the same way, your workplace might have once felt like the best fit when you were starting out. The company culture, the mission, the tasks…it all sat right in your gut.
That’s the thing with evolution – it’s never the same for two people. Or for people and companies.
It’s nobody’s fault, really. It’s just time for you to move on to something that would be a better fit for who you are today.
10) You constantly think about quitting
Finally, let’s look at the most undeniable sign that you’re ready for something new – you think about quitting.
Now, a caveat – thoughts of quitting visit every one of us occasionally, especially during frustrating times. Or when we’ve been working too much.
So, it’s a little tricky to discern if you’re just temporarily frustrated or you’ve truly outgrown your job.
Perhaps the best measure is to look at the frequency with which these thoughts dwell in your mind. If it happens too often, don’t ignore them.
That’s your gut telling you that this is more than just a rough patch – you’re truly not happy where you are.
And also this – if you feel jealous when you hear of a friend doing well at their job. A sense of envy can alert you to the fact that you want more out of your career.
So, are you just going through a rough phase and need a break? Or do you need to dust off your resume and look elsewhere?
Only you can tell. But hopefully, this list has shown you which path to take.
I’ll say this again – life, and your skills and talents, are too precious to waste on a job that doesn’t bring you joy. Trust yourself and step out of your comfort zone so you don’t have to settle for less.