Don't be surprised if you find yourself singing the famous refrain from the Rolling Stones' hit "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" at your desk at some point after your cancer diagnosis. Having cancer has a way of putting a different spin on things. But before you walk out the door in search of something new, it's helpful to remind yourself of what you like about your current job. Then delve into what's missing and what gives you a feeling of satisfaction. Answering the following questions will help you get a better sense of that you are looking for.
What's right about your job?
Figuring out what's been good about your work situation can make it easier to identify the one or two things you've really been missing. Perhaps your company's support and flexibility during your treatment has made you see them through new eyes. Maybe your job has given you the chance to exercise the skills that you enjoy using the most. It may be that your life style is just what you want it to be. Or maybe you get satisfaction from learning something new and your job gives you that opportunity. Ask yourself the same questions about past jobs.
Write down whatever it is that gives you satisfaction and is important to you.
Once you've identified what's worked for you in your work, consider what's missing. Just because you are good at something, doesn't necessarily mean you want to do it anymore. Perhaps surviving cancer has made you want to do something that you think is more meaningful. Maybe your work-life balance is out of whack. Or you might be stuck in the same old rut.
The most important thing is for you to raise your awareness of what you don't have or haven't had in your job. When you know what that is, it is much easier to make decisions and to do something about it.
Now create a second list of things you haven't liked about your job. So now your list reflects your preferences and the things you'd like to avoid.
Can you get it where you are?
Before you start looking for another job, try to figure out if you can get the things that are missing in your current job. Let's say you haven't learned anything new in several years. Is there an aspect of your company or industry that is growing that you'd like to learn more about? Are there specific skills that other people within your organization have that you think you'd enjoy using or learning? What about improving a weak skill, like public speaking, training, financial management or marketing?
If you really like what you do but feel like you need a change, why not get involved in a special project that focuses on improving your employer's business? Identify an area within your company that needs help, think through the details of how you can improve it, and put together a brief proposal to present to your boss.
Or how about getting more involved in your industry's key association? This is also a great way to meet new people in your industry who tend to be decision makers, especially if you've been out of the loop for a while during your illness.
Can you get it elsewhere?
If you've taken a hard look at your current job and company and realize that you just can't create a situation or do work that satisfies you, then it makes sense to start looking for opportunities in other companies or industries. Even companies that are laying off employees are still interested in hiring talented people.
Now is the time to start networking with as many people as possible. You may not find a new opportunity as quickly as you'd like, but you are planting seeds. Keep your list of what is important to you close by to remind yourself of what you need and want from work. Use your lists to create questions you'll ask in networking meetings or interviews. Identifying what's missing in your work can get you started in the right direction for job satisfaction - and a new refrain to sing when you're back at work.
Tell us: What are the two top things that are right about your job? How about the two biggest things that are missing? What is your work theme song today?