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Sunday night anxiety: tell-tale signs it’s time for a career change

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Sunday night anxiety: tell-tale signs it’s time for a career change

A long while back, I used to suffer from Sunday night anxiety. It dutifully arrived at around 7pm, even if I had just had a great weekend. It was a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach – and it was one that I couldn’t shake. Sometimes, I’d try to ignore it. Other times, I literally curl up in a ball and wonder why in the world I was suffering from this.

At the time, I had a great job. Well, it appeared to be a great job at least. I had been courted by a recruiter for over a year. When I started in the role, I was given plum projects and sent on coveted overseas assignments. And, on paper, it looked like it was a wonderful opportunity with a great career path. My life was set.

The trouble was that it was a great job for someone else. In my heart, I knew that it wasn’t the right fit for me. But I didn’t want to admit it. I stuck with it because everyone kept telling me that I was being given an incredible break and that I was being fast-tracked in my career. Plus, I couldn’t really think of an alternative. It was natural progression from my background and studies. If I wanted to move into another field, I’d have to start again.

Nevertheless, I couldn’t shake that Sunday night anxiety. It would descend like a dark cloud without fail each week. And when I headed to work on Monday morning, I was beyond miserable.

Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing bad about the job itself. I had decent, smart colleagues, good working conditions and a lovely office to go to. The firm I worked had a great reputation which it lived up to. But, no matter how wonderful the opportunity seemed on paper, I finally had to admit to myself that it wasn’t the right choice for me.

And that’s hard.

Because it’s admitting that you’ve made a mistake. It’s admitting that you’ve worked for so many years to get to this point – and, now that you’ve reached your goals, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. It’s admitting that you weren’t self-aware enough to figure out the path you should have taken.

However, rather than beat yourself up about it … move on. That’s right. Simply move on. You can either choose to dwell on this career detour while staying stuck in the wrong path for goodness knows how long. Or you can choose to do something about it. I know which one is the better option.

If you find yourself with Sunday night anxiety, ask yourself: are you in the right job? What changes can you make to make sure that your Sunday nights are not filled with dread, but with the anticipation and excitement you have when you genuinely can’t wait to get to work on Monday because you love it so much.

Which is exactly how it should be.

Valerie Khoo

Valerie Khoo is CEO of the Australian Writers’ Centre, one of the world’s leading centres for writing courses. She contributed to Fairfax for 13 years and has held senior editorial roles at ACP (now Bauer), Pacific Magazines and EMAP. She was editor of Business Chick’s Latte magazine for five years and regularly writes for corporate and consumer titles. Valerie began her career in chartered accounting at PwC before moving into public relations, journalism and then entrepreneurship. She is co-host of the podcast “So you want to be a writer”, recently listed as one of the top 30 podcasts for writers in the world, and “So you want to be a photographer”. Valerie is also a mentor with the Australian Businesswomen’s Network.

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