We’ve all had those moments at work where we think, “I love my job!” And we’ve also had those moments at work where we think, “I can’t do this for one more day!” For some of us, the emotional ebbs and flows at work can make it difficult to figure out if we should leave a job. Here are the two ways to know for sure that it’s time to look for a new job.
The first way is that you feel uncomfortable in your current job. This feeling may show itself to you in a variety of ways. Maybe you’ve felt like things were happening that impact you, but you were the last to know. Maybe you’ve felt like someone in a position of power just doesn’t like you, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Maybe you’ve felt like people don’t trust you to do your job. Maybe you’ve cried one to many times on your drive home over this job. Maybe you’ve just stopped feeling inspired to be your best or do your best anymore.
Any of this sound familiar?
All of these feelings (and plenty of others) are uncomfortable and they often compound over time. The first time that one thing happens, it feels bad but you can get over it pretty quickly. The second time it happens, it makes you think about the first time. You get over it again, but the frustration lingers a little longer. The third time it happens, it makes you think about the previous two times, and now you have a list of times when you felt really uncomfortable. The fourth time something happens, it gets harder to bite your tongue and keep a professional attitude. By the fifth time, you have a serious choice to make.
The comfort of loving your job is gone. Going to work (or even thinking of going to work) is painful on an emotional level, but what are you going to do about it? There’s only one way to stop it. It’s time to go.
“But we’ve always done it that way”
The second way to know that it’s time to leave a job is that you feel too comfortable. Look around at your peers. How many of them have been working at the same company for more than 10 years? How many of them have had the same job title for more than 5 years? How many of them are excited to jump in a create something new? How many of them are showing signs of complacency?
Doing an average job over time makes you the most vulnerable
If you go to work to collect your paycheck and go home, then you are the most susceptible to getting blindsided because of your complacency. Companies are moving faster than ever before, and they’ve created systems to let you know if you’re at the top, in the middle, or at the bottom of the food chain. If you’re somewhere in the middle, don’t get too comfortable. There are people ready to do your job cheaper and faster, and their super excited about it.
The secret is that if you feel really comfortable in your position, you should immediately see that as a red flag. When the merge happens. When the layoffs start. When the reorg goes into effect. It’s the ones who feel the most comfortable that always go first. They are the ones that didn’t see it coming because they wrongfully thought, “They’ll never get rid of me.” There’s only one way to save yourself from the blindside: get a new job.
Making the decision to leave a job
You know that it’s not time to leave a job when you feel challenged. When your working relationships are productive and trusting. When the team is moving in sync and there is a good balance of constructive conflict and swift and fair resolution. When you’re creating something that means something, to you and to the company. When you’re encouraged to try new things. When it’s ok to fail and then fix it. When you believe in the mission. When you’ve achieved a goal. When you feel heard. When your work aligns with the vision you have for your life. When you feel valued. When you feel like you’re making a contribution that matters. When you’re being asked to solve a new problem. When you have far more good days than bad. When someone asks you how your day was, and the first thing you tell them is a win and not a gripe.
That’s when you know you’re in the right place. For now.
*I’m not suggesting that you should give an uncomfortable situation five chances to redeem itself. In all likelihood, things will never be the same after the first time something makes you think, “Hmm, that felt awful.” It’s just that we tend to give people and situations multiple chances, even when we know it’s time to move on.