Dear Dan: When is it Time to Leave a Job?
This is my 10th year working at the same place. When is it time to leave a job? How will I know if I should stay or go?
I don’t want to leave my profession, just the current job.
Thinking about Leaving
PS I’m Albanian so I’m sorry if I do any misspelling.
I assume you feel an itch to make a change.
You probably feel tension between the devil you know and the devil you don’t. In other words, we usually prefer the comfort of the status quo to the anxiety of stepping into the unknown.
Fear is useful.
Make a list of the top 5 things you’re afraid of losing if you don’t make a change. You might learn about yourself when you reflect on the items on your list. Use the following questions to examine your list of fears/concerns.
- Fear shows you what’s important. Look at your list. What’s important to you?
- How might you achieve what you’re afraid of losing without making a change?
- How likely is it that you will achieve what you want if you change jobs?
You might come at it from another angle. What do you wish was true at your current job? Perhaps you can craft a new place with your current employer. If you can’t, your wishes give you ideas about what you’re looking for.
If you stay at your current job, how will you feel about yourself?
If you make a change, how will you feel about yourself?
Talk over big decisions.
Find two or three disinterested people who can think through this decision with you. Don’t talk to friends or family. They all have some interest in telling you what you want to hear.
Another consideration is what opportunities are available?
Don’t leave your current job until you have something lined up.
A lateral move with more opportunity might be a viable consideration.
It’s better to run toward what you like than to run away from what you don’t like.
Are you the type of person who tends to stay too long or leave too soon? What does your personal story tell you? Do you have too much grit or do you quit too soon? My feeling is you have plenty of grit.
People with grit tend to hang on to the same job too long.
You have my best,
What suggestions might you offer Thinking about Leaving?
In the words of the immortal Mary Poppins… ” I will stay until the wind changes.” Honestly, when you discern that the “wind” of your offering to others is not longer valued IN THE WAY IT WAS IN THE PAST, it is time to go. Your usefulness has waned and staying now will only aggravate you. (trust me I did this) We are here to SERVE others, not to be served. And in serving we receive the greatest pleasure and satisfaction! When that serving is not valued, time to go somewhere else and serve! (from one who has switched jobs 6 times in 45 years)
Thanks Chuck. You offer a powerful approach to this issue. How is my service? You can’t go wrong if you use the lens of service as a way to explore career options.
If you no longer feel appreciated or are in a Toxic environment! Do what works for you.?
The old addage “It’s not always greener on the other side of the hill”.
Where do you find fulfillment?
Can the issues you have today be modified to keep you there?
What is the most importatnt thing for you to stay?
Only you know yourself what the problem is?
Make the list as “Dan references”. The Pro’s and Con’s can point you in some sense of direction.
Thanks Tim. Work environment has a powerful impact on the quality of life. If you ask me, a toxic environment is a deal breaker – assuming you have options to provide for yourself and family.
Good Day Dan,
This was a great post. I am in the valley of decision regarding changing jobs myself. This was timely. I believe that I have grit, as I’ve stayed on my current job too long. Almost 20 years to be exact. I’ve grown through several promotions, but became comfortable and afraid to leave the nest. A huge lack of confidence. Wondering if I have what it takes to leave. Yet, the feeling of leaving has come upon me again, this time I am stepping out to make it happen. It’s a little scary; however, I am stepping out on faith this go-around. I appreciate your encouragement through all of your post.
Thanks for your vulnerability and transparency. If you haven’t made a change for almost 20 years, this is a huge step. Hopefully, you have some people in your life who can go on the journey with you.
I wish you well.
Thanks Dan, this really sparked a thought for me. I have been considering leaving but I have an employer who is open to shaping the job around what I am interested in. It is more important for me to sit down and really evaluate myself and what I want so that I can have a clear vision of what I want my future to look like.
Thanks Pat. What a great opportunity. Congratulations for being a person that your employer wants to hang on to.
As you indicate, you want to be careful what you ask for. If we aren’t careful, we can be like a dog chasing a car. What do you do with it after you get it?
I’d love to know what your employer might contribute to the conversation. You might know what vision you have for yourself. I wonder what they’re vision for you might be.
Best wishes on the journy.
Years ago, a colleague said to me they weren’t comfortable with an aspect of our job. I told them to find another job because that aspect was core to our work. They were surprised, because they thought I was going to either say to suck it up or reassure them it wasn’t all that bad. And then they were pleased I had given them the answer they needed to hear.
Not long after that, they transferred to another unit in the same organization. I was sad to see them go, but knew it was the right move. The new position was a much better fit for their skills and temperament. At least the organization was still benefitting from their talents, even if my unit wasn’t. And — most importantly — they were much happier.
Thanks Jennifer. Your comment brings to mind our focus on employee retention. Perhaps we would be more successful retaining employees if we put their best interests at the forefront like you did. Cheers
I am kind of surprised you did not list happiness in your post Dan.
After more than 34 years in a job, over 10 as a supervisor, I am retiring. I have looked over your list, and it is a good one, but I believe being happy in your job should be included.
Don’t get me wrong. I have had a significant share of being unhappy at times in those 34 years, but all of those times were outweighed or balanced by other things.
Perhaps it may be the difference between changing jobs and retiring. Many of your points still pertain to either, but happiness likely gains more weight in deciding to retire.
Thanks Hot. Congratulations on your retirement. I wish you a meaningful second half.
Thanks for including happiness. I didn’t need to include it. You did. 🙂
I totally agree! I’ve been with my current job, with two companies and now contractor, for 25 years, and while it is not all things, it is most. I’m in a unique and very flexible niche, and perhaps that’s the difference. I know this won’t last forever, but “the grass is always greener where you water it.”
When your learning curve has reached the top and plateaued you may suggest to get another challenging role with in thesame company. But don’t feel betrayed to yourself if no progress . Only your mind play tricks on you. Relieve yourself of that feeling. Serving others is always taking care of others and the company takes care of you. Inner peace is important and negotiate always both internally and externally. In the end, we are not “trees” that cannot change and move on the with circumstances.
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