An irresistible urge or a strong impulse for some sort of change at work is usually referred to as itchy feet. And with any experience, you’ll know that itchy feet are usually accompanied by a fair share of risk. There is an inclination to either try desperately to ignore it for fear of making a really bad decision or an inclination to making a really bad decision in an attempt to calm the itch. Both of these approaches is fraught with risk and leaves the bearer feeling restless and unfulfilled.
The bottom line is that itchy feet, if not properly handled, could lead to a lot of trouble. It is therefore important to know firstly how to recognize it and then how to deal with it in a way that minimizes risk and leaves you feeling happy and fulfilled. While we will focus on the most common type of itchy feet being itchy feet in the workplace, the principles below can easily be adapted and applied to itchy feet in any area of your life including relationships, wealth or spirituality.
A tell-tale sign of itchy feet is when you dread waking up for work each morning. When you’re feeling stuck in a rut and your gut says it’s time for change. You may question what more can you achieve in your career; or even, what is the purpose of your career? Perhaps you question whether you are making a difference or whether it is time for a change? And the more you think about it, the stronger the feeling of uncertainty becomes and the greater the uncertainty, the stronger the desire for change. When you experience this, recognize that you have workplace itchy feet and try these 5 steps to calm the itch and reduce the risk of taking no action or taking action that you may later regret.
These 5 steps to handle itchy feet at work will help you to constructively move from feeling stuck in a rut into a positive space where you can take steps toward what you really want in your career. Take the time to work through these questions in relation to your career and write down your thoughts along the way to arrive at a plan for calming those itchy feet.
1. What do I have?
This is a difficult step because at this point you are probably feeling very negative toward your job and it may be difficult to see everything that you have. It is important to step away from the emotion and complete this step as objectively as you can. Emotions can certainly be overpowering, so don’t stress about perfection here, you will receive help with your thinking once you reach step 3. Just take the time to jot down all of the things that are great about your job.
2. What do I really want?
We’re often so focused on what we don’t want that we forget to ask ourselves what it is we really want. By asking yourself “What do I really want?” you will allow yourself to shift from the negative vortex into a positive space where you can access a flood of new ideas and positive energy. Consider everything from company values and culture to personal development and growth. Ask yourself what inspires and drives you, what makes you want to get to work in the morning, what do you enjoy most and what doesn’t feel like work at all? Make your list as long and as detailed as your vision is for your career.
3. What is missing?
Now that you have a clear picture of what you have and what you really want, you can easily identify the gaps or what is missing in your career. If you are left with a long list of significant gaps, then you can be assured that your itchy feet is related to workplace issues. If the list is short and consists of insignificant issues, perhaps you need to review other areas of your life as the actual source of your itchy feet may rest elsewhere. At times the signal for change coming from the gut isn’t crystal clear and may be interpreted as itchy feet in the workplace whereas it could actually be itchy feet at home or with your finances, health or family. Completing these 5 steps properly will help you to identify the area of your life that truly has an itch.
4. Who can help me with my thinking?
Now that you have a gap analysis, it is important to bounce of your thoughts with a trusted mentor or coach. The person you engage with should be successful, positive and achieving the things you would like to achieve. The advice you are looking for cannot be entrusted to someone that hasn’t achieved the experience and success you are looking to achieve. This person will need to challenge your thinking even further and be able to point out any blind spots in your thinking. At the end of this step, you should have a clear understanding of your issues ranked in the order in which they need to be addressed; a list of possible solutions and you should know whether the change you desire can be achieved within the organisation or whether it is time to look elsewhere.
5. What steps can I take?
The only thing left to do in order to calm the itch is to take massive persistent action toward what you want in your career and to start filling the gaps that were identified. Create an action plan, include deadlines and monitor and measure your progress. This will keep you moving toward your ideal career and if you’re moving toward something, you’ll no longer be feeling frustrated or stuck in a rut.
So, the next time you have itchy feet, instead of stressing, procrastinating or making rash decisions, use this simple 5 step approach to calm the itch. Steps 1 to 3 will provide clarity around why you have itchy feet, step 4 will help you to manage your risks and make sound decisions and step 5 will ensure that you start to calm the itch. Remember these 5 steps to handle itchy feet may be tailored and applied to absolutely any area of your life, so write them down and apply them the next time you have itchy feet.