How to know when it is time to move on

Image depicting an employee and a clock to go with the post How to know when it is time to move on by Aurora Meyer on Dispatches from the castle

Over the course of your career, there will be times when you may start questioning if it is time for a new challenge.

At first, you may dismiss the idea or begin thinking about how much you like your team or feel supported by your boss. You may be able to quash the feeling for a while, particularly if you can pick up a new work assignment, attend a conference to inspire you, gain new responsibilities, or start working on a professional development project.

However, this feeling is likely to surface again. The best advice I’ve ever received about this is to pause and observe before reacting. In that pause, think about what triggered this feeling.

It is important to note that if the situation that triggered you involves harassment, bullying or other serious matters, you should absolutely speak up right away.

Perhaps the trigger was a coworker encroaching on your project or someone taking credit for your work. The trigger is only a portion of the answer you are ultimately looking for in this situation. You want to then think about why you were triggered by this specifically at this moment. Maybe these situations were easier to brush off before because there wasn’t a pattern. Maybe the real issue is you don’t feel supported by your supervisor. Maybe you’re just having a bad day.  Make a note of both the trigger, your reaction and why you feel this is an issue.

The advice part is to do this at least five times before you make a decision. You are ultimately looking for a pattern, which will help you whether or not you decide it is time to move on.

When you’ve done this at least five times, review your notes and see if you find a pattern. Then ask yourself a few questions: Is it consistently the same trigger? Is your reaction the same each time? Is this a solvable issue? Do you maybe need some time away from the office for some perspective? Would this issue exist in another job or with another supervisor? Is this going to steadily make things worse or can I ignore it?

Though only you can answer these questions, there are some instances where you will feel like it is time to move on.

These include:

  • a realization you are unfairly compensated
  • if you are mistreated, undervalued, or disrespected
  • if you find yourself no longer in agreement with the organization’s strategies, practices and direction and are not in a position to change them
  • interpersonal differences that increase over time with your manager or direct coworkers
  • feeling like you don’t fit in with the company culture

Another situation where you may consider moving on is when you are coasting and not learning or growing. Every job comes with skills and challenges. When you no longer feel like you are learning new skills or addressing challenges, it is easy to feel like you are stagnant.  In this situation, it would be a good idea to talk to your supervisor about stretch projects or opportunities to try something new. You could also look into a professional development opportunity and talk to your supervisor about how attending or learning that skill would help you do your current job better.

The truth is only you can decide if your job is no longer fulfilling.

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