I stayed in a corporate job for way too long. I was miserable. It was negatively impacting my health, and my loved ones didn’t particularly enjoy hearing me complain about my job.
I continued to endure the misery for several more years. I was in denial. I had misplaced loyalty to a company that didn’t feel the same towards me. I was worried that I couldn’t get a job that paid as well, wasn’t sure what I wanted, and was very reluctant to “start over” at a new job – I had my job “figured out” and could nearly do it in my sleep.
Hindsight allows me to see now that it was a combination of fear and an odd sense of comfort that kept me from making a much-needed change. It was a very familiar fear. It was far easier in the short term to put the blame for my job dissatisfaction onto my boss, instead of me owning my career and designing it in a way that honors my strengths and who I wanted to become.
Fast-forward several years and several failed attempts to figure out what I wanted by trial and error (not my recommended process – there are easier ways) and I finally love where I am. I’m excited about my work, and curious about where my journey continues to take me; I’m no longer enduring things I don’t enjoy.
I wished I could say taking the first step was the hardest, but there were several more difficult steps I had to take, mostly because I didn’t learn the necessary lessons the first time around. While I wouldn’t trade my personal journey, I hope that by sharing what I’ve learned, I can help make your transition much easier.
So how do you know that it’s time to leave? There are some clear clues. Not all of them must be met. For me, one is enough to say move on (I’ve learned). You’ll need to make that decision for yourself. Just do it from a place of trusting yourself and not from a place of denial.
You get the Sunday night dread almost every night.
You’re unhappy most of the day, nearly every day. You don’t feel energized to go to work and when you’re at work, you’re dreaming of being nearly anywhere else. You’re bored, even if you are super busy. You procrastinate more than you ever have (we all procrastinate a bit).
You’re exhausted and/or frustrated.
You’re exhausted mentally, physically, and emotionally. This is the level of exhaustion that no matter how much sleep you get, you do not feel recharged. You have no idea what work/life balance means. Even when you have time for your personal life, you don’t feel as excited as you used to. You identify with Eeyore.
Your work is impacting your personal relationships. You vent about your job too much.
You don’t feel like YOU at work.
You’re misunderstood and hide the “real” you. You don’t feel respected. You don’t feel heard. Your suggestions or input are regularly dismissed.
You don’t feel that you can speak up at work. You don’t feel that you’ll be listened to and therefore you stop contributing valuable input.
There is no future.
You haven’t been promoted for a long time, but additional responsibilities and work have been added on.
There is no place for you to go forward in your career.
You were made promises about opportunities in your career path – but they have not happened.
You’re not learning anything new, expanding your skill set, or experiencing it in a meaningful way. The skills you need to use in your job do not match your strengths.
The company is in trouble.
You don’t like the people you work with and/or your boss.
The company culture is not aligned with your personal values or the company mission doesn’t mean anything to you.
The environment is toxic. Your boss is toxic. You’re experiencing verbal abuse, or sexual harassment, or are aware of illegal behavior.
You don’t feel that your job is meaningful.
You don’t feel that you are contributing value to the world. You feel deep down that there is something more that you were meant for – bigger, more meaningful, or simply aligns with who you really are and your strengths much better.
If you feel embarrassed to admit that deep down you feel you are made for better things, don’t be embarrassed at all. You are not arrogant. Instead, listen to these feelings. They are pointing you in another direction, one that will bring you more joy, success, and satisfaction in your life.
If you feel you’re made for more, then you are. Don’t ignore these feelings.
If you answered yes to any of the above factors, they are likely impacting your health, relationships, and overall well-being. No job is worth it!
Making the decision to leave can be a scary one. And all too often the saboteurs (your inner critics) create all sorts of crazy arguments to keep you from living your best life. If your critic sounds anything like mine, it spouts off nonsense such as, “You can’t find a job that pays as much.” Or, “You know how to do your job well, what if you go somewhere and you’re not as successful.” Perhaps something along the lines of, “You’re too old to start all over in a new industry/company/job.” Maybe you tell yourself, “This isn’t so bad; every job has its challenges.”
So, what’s the cost if you do nothing? What’s the impact on your relationships? The impact on your well-being? The impact on your dreams?
Once you’ve decided that it’s time to own your career, the next step is making it happen in a way that ensures the next move is the right one and you’re not just going from one dumpster fire to another (job-wise). If you need help being strategic about your next move and need help designing your career transition plan (including figuring out what you want, how to find it, and how to crush it in your new role), I’m here for you (this is literally what I do for a living and I’ve helped hundreds of professionals find a better role that pays more and allows for much better work/life balance).