Work long enough and you’ll inevitably face a time when you’ll question what you’re doing and where you’re doing it.
The feeling that it might be time to move on. The career grim reaper.
It can start as a dull ache or a nagging feeling - a series of moments that accumulate over time, nudging you towards considering going somewhere else.
Or it can strike you like a thunderbolt – that moment you hit conflict, a glass ceiling, a brick wall or a personal development moment where you realize your purpose and values have left the building – or worse, were never there in the first place.
Or perhaps the reality that you are slowly descending into apathy and indifference, one pathetic step at a time. The color is draining from your life’s mosaic, you can’t remember the last time you felt lit up and you have one steady pace - survival.
The answer is: yes. The question is: will you?
Being human, sometimes we kid ourselves into thinking it’s a blip - we just need to nail this project or take a long weekend and things will go back to normal. Or perhaps the family is happy and settled, you’re in a comfortable routine and it’s easier to paper over the cracks – like opting for a home renovation, rather than moving abodes.
Sometimes that is true. And sometimes it is not. Great business coaches will tell you to ask a better question to determine when enough is enough.follow-up
Here are 5 Good Soul questions that may indicate it’s time to leave.
1. Is this really what I want to do with my life?
Let’s start by saying career changes are incredibly common and at any one time you probably have a decent percentage of colleagues considering it as well. Whether the role is ‘not you’ or the pay and perks are too good to leave, there is always hope and a way out.
We exist on a spectrum of pleasure-to-pain and we react consciously or unconsciously when we shift too close to pain and the rewards of the role are overshadowed by the sacrifice it takes to stay.
If your answer to this question is straight-up - “no,” it’s probably a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ you will change. And it can swiftly bring in the follow up question: Am I even in the right industry?
If it’s about money, benefits, and status - the question becomes can you earn your way to happiness by doing what you hate for most of your waking hours so you can enjoy intermittent spurts of leisure-time? Many do this and aim to retire early. But, can you? Do you need to cut and run and choose purpose over pay? Or do you split the toss and give yourself a timeframe to work your way out and towards happiness? Where do you want to be in 12 months?
It’s time to do a bit of soul-searching and get clear on what direction you want to take. Don’t stress if you don’t have a clear bead on what you want to do - starting with what you don’t want can be clarifying.
2. Do you suffer from Sunday dread?
Does the thought of Monday morning strike fear and loathing in you? Do you find yourself staying up late on Sunday just to “savor the last moments of freedom” afforded by the weekend?
Are you a remarkably different person on long weekends and vacations but gradually transform back to your shadow self as your restart date closes in.
Sunday night terrors, anxious 4 am moments and physiological reactions to the workplace mean your subconscious mind is screaming at you that something is not right.
If you answer yes, it’s definitely time to consider a move. Either a shift in role or attitude at your current workplace or elsewhere.
Always start by checking in if your current work situation could be resolved. Be honest in your observations of whether your workplace is good at resolving conflict, developing staff and providing the backdrop for greatness. If it is not you may decide to leave rather than raise heckles with no solution in sight.
→ Are you in the right seat? If not, discuss this with your boss and/or HR.
→ Is your boss the problem? If so, discuss this with HR.
→Are you getting the support you need? Review your learning and development plan and the workplace culture.
→Is there unresolved conflict at work that is bothering you? Bullying, microaggressions, passive-aggressive behavior etc. If so, discuss this with HR.
3. Has your productivity dropped for a reason you can't explain?
Do you find that tasks that you used to complete in no time at all – and even enjoy doing – have become tedious and laborious? Have you noticed that you aren’t performing as you used to?
If so, it could be a number of things. Maybe you’re stagnating and the challenge is not there for you any longer. Or, there isn’t a next step or promotion coming up for you.
Perhaps your priorities have shifted.
Ultimately, if you find that your performance is dropping, you need to do something about it. If you think that an honest conversation with colleagues and bosses is not an option – or would prove fruitless – then it may be time to move on.
Need a break? It’s been an exhausting few years and ‘burnout’ is at an all-time high.
Enthusiasm has waned and you no longer feel the spice or satisfaction in things.
4. Am I contributing in meaningful ways to this brand?
Your job may be making you feel low. The number one thing employees need for ongoing motivation is that they feel they’re contributing. Anything that dampens that can be fatal on morale.
→ find yourself doubting your value and impact
→ have lost your confidence in making decisions
→ feel like your suggestions are ignored
→ perceive your department as necessary but not important to the business.
As the pandemic has clearly demonstrated - there is nothing more important than nurturing and securing your long-term emotional wellbeing. A career should be rewarding and beneficial. Not something that diminishes you and your opinion of yourself.
Pinpoint the source of your discomfort. Consider if changes in your working environment would be enough to correct the deficit you feel in your employee experience. Company culture is a powerful thing to shift so look around for examples of success to assess if you should stay or go.
5. Am I supported and growing in this role?
You love what you do but you know you’d be happier doing it somewhere else. A valid concern.
This comes down to culture. Not ‘what’ your business is doing but ‘how’ they are going about doing it. In this case, it’s great to check in against Gallup’s Employee Engagement Survey with their Q12™ Survey which has been fine-tuned by studying over 2.7 Million workers across 100, 000+ teams. It operates like Pavlov’s Hierarchy of Needs where our basic foundational needs must be satisfied first, before moving into more self-actualized realms.
Q1. I know what is expected of me at work.
Q2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
Q3. At work, I have the ability to do what I do best every day.
Q4. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
Q5. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
Q6. There is someone at work that encourages my development.
Q7. At work, my opinions seem to count.
Q8. The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
Q9. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
Q10. I have a best friend at work.
Q11. In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
Q12. This last year, I have had opportunities to learn and grow.
While all the questions are entwined you may consider the following:
Is it a leadership issue? Q1, Q4, Q5, Q6, Q11, Q12.
Is it a workplace culture issue? Q3, Q4, Q5, Q6, Q7, Q8.
Is it a development issue? Q1, Q3, Q6, Q11, Q12.
Dig in so you can make the right informed decision. Stay or go. And please reach out for a conversation if you are conflicted.
“You can’t read a label from inside the bottle” - is one of our favorite quotes when it comes to offering career advice.
You’d be surprised how clarifying and liberating it is to talk to us about what you are experiencing and how we see and hear you. Please reach out for a no-strings-attached chat.
Come and say firstname.lastname@example.org