One of the recurring themes in my work with clients is their questioning of when to leave a work position. They go through many ups and downs of deciding to leave then deciding not to before they get to some final conclusion. Most of my clients are at least 40 years old so they have already had a number of years working and a range of experiences with their work. However, because they are very used to their work situation, they find it difficult to assess whether to leave. If you are like them and you are questioning whether it is time to leave—for another position, for retirement, or to become an entrepreneur—then you have already reached the first stage of separation. Questioning is the first sign that you are ready to leave. More often than not people wait too long before they leave and push through more months or even years than serves them well. When you wait too long, the last months tend to be less productive and certainly less fulfilling.
Not that deciding to leave is so simple. There is so much involved in making a huge change in your life when it comes to work. Think about it—if you sleep eight hours, working eight hours a day makes up half of your sixteen-hour waking day. That’s a huge part of your life so it should not be surprising that making a work change is a big decision. People vary in their reactions, but generally speaking people way underestimate how disruptive work changes are to their livelihood. And that is the reason why it is so important. Finding work that brings you joy and fulfillment or at the very least doesn’t suck the life out of you is essential to your well-being.
I have an on-line assessment that helps you explore whether you are ready to leave that you are welcome to check out here. If you are exploring this question of whether to leave your position or not, here are a few important aspects to consider.
- Are you in it just for the money? This is a glaring sign that your work isn’t sustaining you. Sure, money is important and making a wage that supports your life is important. And it is not enough. You must handle your financials when you make a career change but you can’t live a joyful life when you stay with something just for the money.
- Are you in it just for the prestige? The phrase “just for the” is a clue again. If you stick with a position because the title gives you status and other people think you are important, that isn’t enough. Many people see successful folks and think, “I want that, I want to be big too.” But most happy and successful people will tell you that what other people think is a whole lot less important to their joy in life than how they feel about what they are doing. If they are aligned with their work in a way that they feel it is important and true for them and they also have prestige, that’s fine. But prestige in and of itself is empty.
- Are you on boring autopilot? Some tasks are helpful to have on autopilot in order to get stuff done. Like fixing meals or working out. But even those will be draining if they are boring autopilot. Is your work a blur of repetition that feels boring and leaves you numb? It is time to find something that breathes life into you.
- Are you waiting for it to get better on its own? That rarely happens. When you are in a position that you don’t like, yes things may shift naturally (as change is inevitable). But if you think your work will magically become awesome if you just wait it out, you are wasting your time in an unfulfilling situation.
So if you find that you are questioning whether it is time to leave, give yourself some room to explore what’s working for you and what’s not working for you in your current job. Then get planning on what you will do to remedy the situation and take some action. There is no reason to spend eight or more hours of each day doing something that no longer brings you joy and satisfaction. Consciously choose to create a work life that sustains you.