All Change! 10 Signs it’s Time to Quit While You’re Ahead
Feeling frustrated at work? Wondering whether or not it’s time to find new employ? Check out these ten signs to help you decide whether or not it’s time to move on.
Blink and you’ll miss it
“I never planned to stay for so long, it just kind of happened.” Sound familiar? So many of us seem to fall into our jobs or careers without any real intention. It happened to me. I know that when I was younger I wanted to be a writer like Roald Dahl, then I wanted to be a journalist, and then finally a politician with a conscience trying to save the world. Instead I got an internship with a major oil company and then returned after graduation. At some point I blinked and 15 years had gone by, leaving a marriage, two kids and shattered career goals in its wake.
If I hadn’t been jolted awake by a state of profound work-related depression that left me medicated and signed off, I would probably still be there now. Thankfully I was forced to take the bull by the horns and reshape my career destiny for myself. But if you would like to avoid similar pitfalls and learn when to make a graceful exit, then read on.
Looking back, there were several warning signs that I had overstayed my welcome, but they went unheeded until it was too late. Here is my summary of the top ten clues that it may be time to leave the office party.
When quitting is done correctly, it isn’t giving up – it’s making room for something better.
1. When Monday morning dread starts on Friday night.
There’s nothing like a bit of doom and gloom to torpedo the joy of a good weekend. If you find yourself spending the entire week counting down to whenever it is you can get the heck away from work, then something is up. If your fleeting feeling of joy and relief at the forthcoming weekend hiatus is too quickly replaced by the grim realisation that you will be back in 3 days, it is definitely time to do something about it. While we all look forward to a break at the end of the working week, you shouldn’t be spending that precious time fretting about what waits for you when you log back in again on Monday.
2. When your sleeping/eating/exercise pattern is regulalry disrupted.
I should have known that I was in trouble when I started to eat a little too much and exercise too little. I thought that it was laziness. Or maybe even the long harboured desire to accept my potato-shaped body as beautiful regardless. But no, it was depression. But when I regularly started waking in the night because I had dreamt a work related nightmare, then I really should have sought help. Missing sleep because of worry, over indulging in search of comfort and skipping on exercise out of constant tiredness is not normal. If you find yourself doing this regularly, it is time to take an honest look at the cause.
3. When you become unreasonably irritable with loved ones.
I’m a married mum of two so I find a LOT of things irritating. Sleep depravation, constant business and distractions all serve to make us occasionally grouchy, but what I am talking about here is different. When I was unhappy with work, I internalised it for fear that if I told anyone I would get “found out”. For what exactly, I wasn’t sure, but I just knew that my career frustrations were best kept secret from everyone. As a result, I only had enough niceness for those people or situations that truly demanded it. I could don a mask at work and be all “Not too bad, Sharon, thanks. Yourself?”, but at home I would snap at the children, my husband, the doorframe if it helped. Little rhyme or reason. And then I would feel guilty and angry at all once for feeling guilty. If you find yourself being unreasonably tetchy too often, it could be time to examine your work situation.
4. When you no longer “fit”.
If you are increasingly finding that your goals and your company’s goals are not aligned, then it might be time to call change on this relationship. For me this manifested itself in cynicism at new plans or initiatives. If you just aren’t able to get excited about where your company is going, then it is not fair to either party to stay just for the sake of it. We thrive best when we are enthusiastic and engaged in the work we are doing, and companies get the best from us as a result. If you feel that this hasn’t described you in a while, could it be time to move on to somewhere more like home?
5. When you feel underappreciated.
Nobody likes feeling taken for granted. If it seems as though that is starting to happen to you, you must do something about it. These feelings, if left to fester, will lead to bitterness and resentment. If the quality of your work is not being recognised as it should be, ask a trusted colleague for help determining whether the issue is theirs or yours. If you are being underappreciated, then find a company that will treasure your unique skills and talents.
6. When you’re not being challenged.
We work, not simply because we must, but because it enriches our lives. If you feel like you are caught in a cycle of drudgery and doldrums, then you need to be challenged. Work should be a place of growth where your mind is stretched and your skills enhanced. If your company doesn’t invest in training its people, one of its greatest resources, then find somewhere that will. If you are not being given new opportunities, challenging roles and greater responsibilities commensurate with your experience then it may be time to move on.
7. When nothing you do is ever enough.
We all go through times when we feel that nothing we do is ever good enough, but beware of this becoming the norm. If you are going the extra mile, getting in early, staying late, missing holidays and volunteering for extra-curricular activities and somehow your boss is never happy, then maybe the problem isn’t you. You may be banging your head against a brick wall, so focus on redirecting your energies where they will actually make a difference- whether that be your family life, your social life or finding a different job.
8. When you can no longer see yourself there in 2 years time.
Or worse, when you can and the thought of that feels you with dread or disappointment! Close your eyes and picture your life 2 years from now. You wake up in the morning, you’re getting ready for work. What does that look like? When you are commuting to work, how do you imagine your journey? What does your office look like when you arrive? Time to start working towards making your visions a reality.
9. When you are being overlooked.
Doing all the right things and still not getting anywhere? It may be time to move on. The frustration for me was seeing many of my contemporaries progressing much faster than I was. At first I thought that I hadn’t earnt it, but when it became clear that wasn’t the case, I made a decision to change. There is no sense in leading a coulda, woulda, shoulda life. If you feel that all your efforts are going unrecognised, then find an employer that will appreciate your talent.
10. When it no longer makes you smile.
We should all get a sense of pride in our work, to feel that the work we are doing is worthwhile and important. That is how we feel valued in our workplace. Even though you might have a lot of friends at work, if you are not feeling that same enthusiasm for your work, then think hard about whether it’s making you happy. It’s much better to spend 10 hours a day doing something you love, than spending 8 hours a day doing something you loathe.
The good news is that there is light at the end of a tunnel. Whether you choose to stay or dare to go, you can find happiness and fulfilment in your work, and restore harmony to your life.
With over 15 years of management experience behind me I love to see women succeed at work and home. When I'm not doling out advice, I can be found sitting mute on the sofa watching tv with my husband or refereeing fights between my two kids.