There are a number of qualified, independent people who can help you make major decisions that will impact on your career.

You're bored, you're underperforming; your working life feels like treadmill of dull dissatisfaction. Your co-workers and managers are noticing you've lost your spark, and at times you feel like you're clinging on to your job by your fingernails.

Managing your day-to-day working life can be arduous when it feels like nothing's going right. And while deciding "enough is enough" can be difficult, sometimes it's the best option for a flagging career.

David Cunliffe's recent (and very public) grapple to keep his grip on the reins of a job that had got away from him is a good illustration of the dangers of hanging on too long. His resignation was a brave and painful decision, but ultimately the right one.

The decision to call a job quits should never be made lightly. There are many reasons for job dissatisfaction - lack of challenge, interpersonal issues, or excessive stress - and sometimes these can be successfully addressed without such dramatic action. So it's important to look at your work issues from many different angles before throwing in the towel.


Careers adviser Kaye Avery has had many clients who struggle with difficult decisions around their careers. She says there are a wide range of reasons why a job might not be working out and that it's important to identify where the challenges lie.

"Sometimes people disengage from their job because it lacks excitement, it's exhausting them, or it has become stale," she says.

"They may think that they are in the wrong career, but it's actually the conditions in the workplace that are draining them."

These factors could include a toxic work culture, bad management or negativity in the workplace.

Once people have identified what is causing their dissatisfaction they can decide how to proceed.

"When people ascertain why they are unhappy in their work, it's possible to work out whether these things can be changed," says Avery.

Avery says that it's important to analyse the reasons for your workplace dissatisfaction with an unbiased, objective person. "Friends and family will be influenced by what you have told them about the job, and they will align themselves with your dissatisfaction," she says.

"An independent expert, such as a careers counsellor, will be able to help you identity where the problems lie and formulate a plan for dealing with them."


It's helpful to identify what the premium conditions for a great working life would be for you.

"These tend to be factors like feeling valued, having support or being recognised. These conditions may be possible to manufacture in your workplace through shifting roles."

She says that it is also best to not voice your job concerns or dissatisfactions with co-workers or managers.

"There can be a lot of gossip in the workplace, and you need to make sure you only speak to people who have your best interests at heart."

Having a timeframe for the resolution of workplace issues can be very useful - it's helpful to know that there will be a definite conclusion to the difficult situation.

"You may decide that you will make a decision about what you are going to do over the Christmas break, for example," says Avery. "You can decide to try to remedy issues internally before this time; if you are still unhappy you may start looking for other roles while you are on holiday."

Deciding to leave a job for a similar role in a different company may be a challenge, but considering a complete career change is an even more daunting prospect. Avery says that those who feel that they are in the wrong career, but who don't know what career would suit them better, should seek guidance through some of the multiple resources available.

"There are books like What Colour is Your Parachute by Richard Bolles that some people find helpful," she says. "But if you still can't decide, it's really useful to get a second opinion from an expert - this will help you to reinforce any decision you make."

Careers New Zealand also has a range of resources for those looking to change direction, including skill matcher and career checker tools that can help you gauge which options you may have.

Avery says it's also a good idea to have "informational interviews" with people in careers you think you may like. "Speak to people face-to-face about the jobs they do and how they got them," she says.

This can help to provide a more nuanced and informed picture of the career that interests you, and inform your decision-making process.

If you decide to leave your job, it's important to work out an effective exit strategy.

This will ensure your departure is as painless as possible and make the process easier for all concerned.

Avery says that it's important to be careful about how you frame communications with your managers.

"Don't react through anger or disappointment," she says. "Frame your dissatisfactions as positively as possible, use "I" statements, and don't resort to blame."

She says it's also important not to criticise the company or co-workers, and acting with integrity you will enable you to exit gracefully.

Making the decision to exit your career at the end of your working life is also a hard decision for some. People who've worked their whole life may find the prospect of life without a job rather daunting; they end up holding on to jobs they've outgrown due to fear of the unknown.

"As there is no mandatory age for retirement, people can stay in jobs for the wrong reasons," she says.

"They don't take on new projects, aren't engaged with what they are doing, and some are more in danger of redundancy."

She says that it's important for those on the edge of retirement to take control of the transition from work. A graceful exit from working life and a strategy for the future can help ensure they remain engaged with the community, says Avery.

"It's so important that retired people continue to feel like they are making a contribution to society."