That is the best way to describe a voluntary decision to leave a perfectly good job to pursue something new. I’ve had to go through the painful process of changing jobs many times. It’s not easy, but getting to the point of conviction that it is the right thing to do isn’t impossible either. It helps to know the telltale signs showing you that it’s time to move on to new horizons.
In this post, I’ll share 7 of the ways to know it’s time for a new job. You might face just one of these, or perhaps all 7. Either way, if you are nodding your head in agreement as you read this article, you know the jig is up, and it’s time to plan your exit.
1) You are constantly bored
Being bored is insidious. At first, it is nice to have some mental downtime. Prolonged, however, boredom is a recipe for disaster on the job. One of my first bosses, Paul, told me that the best way to make career choices is to prioritize learning above all else, including salary. He was right!
That doesn’t mean that salary and other factors don’t matter. What Paul said, and I agree, is that if you are often bored, you aren’t being challenged and learning a lot on the job. If you aren’t learning, you aren’t growing. If you aren’t growing, you are atrophying, and your skills are less and less useful in an increasingly competitive market. If you are habitually bored on the job, you will not be as motivated to do the hard work and push through resistance you might face in the course of your role. We are willing to fight harder for things we care about.
Here are some statistics about boredom featured by Sandy Mann of The British Psychological Society, showing the scope of the problem:
- Nearly 45 per cent of hiring experts in a 1998 survey said firms lost top workers because they were bored with their jobs (Steinauer, 1999).
- A third of Britons claim to be bored at work for most of the day (DDI survey ‘Faking It’, 2004); in the financial services, half were often or always bored at work.
- Boredom has been found to be the second most commonly suppressed emotion at work (Mann, 1999).
- 55 per cent of all US employees were found to be ‘not engaged’ in their work in a recent survey reported in the Washington Post (10 August 2005).
- 24 per cent of office employees surveyed by Office Angels claimed that boredom caused them to rethink their career and look for alternative jobs (reported in The Guardian, 20 January 2003).
- 28 per cent of graduates claimed to be bored with their job in a survey by the Teacher Training Agency.
Boredom is unavoidable. However, it’s critical that your boredom is not a prolonged thing. Sure, you might have a few tedious tasks or projects to take care of. These mundane tasks should be punctuated numerous opportunities to learn and grow. If you aren’t experiencing this sense of vigor and learning, and you can’t volunteer for new projects that will help you stretch and get out of your comfort zone, it’s time for a change.
2) You are embarrassed about your work
There are some jobs that you might not be proud to do. Do you believe in the product(s) your company produces? Are you proud to tell your friends and family what you do and where you work?
I believe that we all should be on a mission to build a career we can be proud of. If you don’t have that sense of deep personal pride in your work, regardless of how much your salary is, you know something needs to shift. One way to do this is to change your mindset regarding your work. Ask yourself, who does my company serve? How do my customers benefit from our product(s) and service(s)? How are our customers lives better as a result of me doing what I do?
Money can’t cover up a terrible job. Just think of all those people who were selling people mortgages they couldn’t afford in 2007. Sure, they made a killing, but were they proud of their work?
If you answer these questions, but still cannot find any deeper meaning or purpose (or pride) in your work. You know it’s time to change.
3) You wouldn’t “hire” yourself for your job
Don’t let anyone fool you. No-one is fully qualified for their job. There is always a learning curve, even for the most highly skilled and talented person. That said, if you were your boss, would you hire yourself to do your job? If not, why?
Whatever your answer is to this question will reveal a few things. First, it will reveal a few possible gaps in skills or attitudes that you should address to be successful in your job. Second, it will serve as an indicator for your desire to do what it takes to be a “hire” for your job. Sometimes, the missing skills or attitudes we need to be successful in a job, are not the things we are able or willing to work on. If this is the case for you, your energy will be better spent in a job where you are willing to invest the time and energy in your personal and career development.
Our highly competitive job market values people who are exceptional at their work, not mediocre. Find a job where you have the motivation to put in the effort required to be exceptional.
4) You are there for the money
If you won the lottery, would you still be doing the type of work you are doing today?
When I pose this question to you, I’m not saying that you need to work the same number of hours. Most people would work less!
Instead, think about if you would still be doing the same style or type of work you are doing now. For example, if you are a Product Manager at a Technology Company, and struck it rich when your startup IPO’d would you continue down the path of being a world-class Product Manager if money was no object for you?
You might choose to be an investor, start another company or the like, but from a “career” perspective, would you still be employing the skills and behaviors of a Product Manager in how you do your work? Do you love thinking and acting like a Product Manager? Does Product Management fascinate you? Would you continue to learn and grow your Product Management skills even if money was no object?
If the answer is “YES!,” you know you are on the right career track. Otherwise, you should do some soul-searching (and hire a career coach!) to find out what your longer-term career path will be, and take steps to move towards it.
5) You wouldn’t choose your job again
Momentum is a powerful force. We choose a major when we go to college, get a job, and sometimes never leave that job or career track for years and years! The choices we make when we are in our teens do not and should not represent what we do for the rest of our lives. This fact hit home for me when I decided to leave a job and company I loved, to travel and start my business. It wasn’t that my job was bad, it was that my values changed as I grew older and needed to build a new career in line with my values.
If you had to choose your job right now, what would you pick? Would you pick the same field of work you are in today? Would you choose the same company? Would you choose the same specific job you are doing?
If you wouldn’t opt-in to your current matter right now, it’s worth asking yourself “Why?”.
6) You don’t respect your boss(es)
At Microsoft, where I used to work, we had a saying as managers that it was always best to hire people who were smarter than you. With a culture like this, we would often end up with employees that were far better than the management in many areas! Respect, however, has nothing to do with if you think your boss is smarter than you or not. Indeed, at Microsoft, the opposite often was the case as talented new hires joined the company!
Respect is about appreciating what your boss does, and how she does it. Respect can come along even for those you disagree with. For example, you may not agree with President Donald Trump, but do you respect him on some level for his abilities to influence, persuade, lead and get to where he is today? I sure do, even though I disagree with many of his policies.
Sometimes, however, the actions (or inaction!) of your bosses can leave you with a total lack of respect. Perhaps you don’t agree with how they treat team members. Perhaps you don’t like their indecisiveness. Perhaps you don’t like their leadership style. Perhaps they lack vision. Perhaps you don’t think they have the intellectual horsepower it takes to be in their job.
If you can’t find a way to respect your boss (and upper management as well), even if you disagree with some of their actions, then you know it’s time for a new adventure.
There’s a saying that most people don’t leave companies, they leave bosses. In my coaching practice, I’ve witnessed this to be true more often than not. Work hard to find a way to respect your management, and if not, set sail for new waters.
7) Your health is suffering
During my last job in the corporate world, my weight ballooned up from my normal fit and healthy 140 pounds to over 190 pounds. 50 pounds of weight gain was a ton for someone with a small body frame like me.
I was working a lot. Flying all over the world meeting with business partners. I was doing “well” by all outward measures, but physically, I was a disaster. I wasn’t sleeping enough. I wasn’t exercising enough. I wasn’t eating well (and you can’t outrun a bad diet). Eventually, I realized that as good as the job was, I needed to take a break. I wasn’t happy. What was adding to the pressure was my inner desire to travel and take a break from the daily grind. I had elderly family in India I hadn’t seen in years. This was something that was gnawing at me for years. I decided to scratch that itch.
More important than physical health, in my opinion, is mental health. Prevalence of anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders are at an all-time high. Particularly in high stress and fast-paced work environments (like tech industry jobs), the high average salaries do nothing to inoculate people from mental health issues. Stress is stress, regardless the paycheck. Brad Feld has spoken out on this issue, and it’s important that more leaders do the same.
Mental Health Map by Mental Health America
I’ve had conversations, through my coaching practice, with several professionals who are CRUSHING IT in their careers and working in highly desirable and well-paying jobs. Mentally, however, they are suffering deeply. For these clients, I urge them to seek professional counseling treatment (they do) in addition to the coaching work we do together.
When work takes its toll on your health, it’s important to gut-check your priorities and ask yourself what you can do to improve. Sometimes, just like me, the answer isn’t to hire a trainer or re-commit to your spin classes or yoga and meditation practice. Sometimes the answer is to reassess your lifestyle (of which your career is a big piece!).
What role does your job have in your current physical or mental health (or lack thereof)? Is your work the source of your disease?
Maybe by shifting your job to a career that lines up with your values and desire for a better lifestyle, or perhaps by just taking a break or sabbatical from work to sort out your next step (that’s what I did), things will improve for the better.
If you read this post nodding your head in agreement, then you know that it’s time to for a new job. You might also be wondering how to best make the leap.
The best advice I can offer, is that unless you are facing a severe health crisis (in which case, consult with your counselor and speak with your HR department to see if you qualify for medical leave), do your best to make your current job palatable while directing all your spare time and energy into creating your next opportunity. Keep doing well in your existing role. Work hard to find something better after-hours and with your spare time.
My path was different. I left my job with no safety net and eventually built up my own business as a source of income. A habit of saving and investing for my entire life (even when I was a kid) gave me the financial freedom to be able to live for a while without a paycheck. Most people aren’t in the same situation as I am, and that is why I recommend that you stick with your current job until you have your next opportunity lined up.
For an even better chance of success in finding a job you can be proud of, enlist the support of a career coach. A skilled coach can help you map out a career path that gets you excited while walking with you step by step as you land your next role.
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