Knowing when it’s time to leave


There are always those people in the workplace who continue aimlessly and never actually consciously make a decision about what they want out of their career. You know the type. They complain endlessly about the people, the processes, the location, the workload, the tea and coffee facilities, and so on. Yet they continue to show up for work. Ever try having a conversation with one of these people before? It might go something like this:

  • Person A: How’s it going?
  • Person B: Terrible! My boss is a ——. I’m so so busy and now they’ve got that new process in place, making us do even more work! I just had a holiday but I wish I had another one! I hate this place!!
  • Person A: Wow that sounds awful, maybe you should tell your boss about the crappy process, work through it with him, get a better process put in place? Or have you tried looking elsewhere? Have you updated your resume? Contacted some agencies?
  • Person B: No… Not yet, I might leave it for a few months to see how things go…besides it’s not that bad all the time…

Sound familiar? Whether it’s someone else or yourself, our routine, habitual nature sometimes makes it difficult to recognise when we’ve got a problem on our hands.

In the corporate world, there are those old timers that have been with a company for over 25 years and those that last no longer than 6 months at each company; otherwise known as “job hoppers”. I’m not here to argue the pros and cons of either, or which path is best for your career. The best path is the one that you choose. Though if you’re unhappy in your current situation, here are some pointers to help you make the change.

It’s a scary world out there
You start making excuses; it’s easy here, I know everything, I know everyone. So basically your excuse is knowledge, thus it leads to the conclusion that your trepidation to leave is fear of the unknown.

Yes the fear holds us all back. You knew everything, now you’re the newbie. It gives most of us scary flashbacks to year 7, when we changed from the cool grade 6 leaders of the school, to little kids again bullied by the year 8’s. It’s unfortunate how past experience conditions us to live in fear of all future events.

I was like that. Working for a very large well-known Fortune 500 company. I knew everything. New people came to me for help. I was nominated for awards; I was my manager’s star performer. But I was bored. I wanted a change. So I asked for a change and got the ‘soft’ no; I’m too important in this role, there’s no one to fill my role, it’s the GFC it’s hard to find something else for me, I’m better off here. So I left my company and have not looked back since. I didn’t get bullied at my new organisation, I learned new things, and am now helping other new employees.

Your life doesn’t end when you make a change, your life just changes. The fun is in the growth process you make throughout the change. Feel the fear and go out there and meet the challenges.

Dreaded Monday becomes dreaded Friday
Do you start the countdown to Monday morning on Friday night? Your mind thinks about it all weekend that you really don’t get to enjoy your weekend? You’d rather just sit around doing nothing so you can savour the weekend time? So you end up not actually doing anything on the weekend. Sound confusing? Or does that scarily makes sense? Move on into a new environment and start enjoying your week again. That’s Monday through to Sunday, not just the weekend.

Personal growth can happen wherever you are
People get caught in the trap that they don’t know everything yet; there is still lots to learn where they are now. Truth is, there is always more to learn, whether it’s where you are now, or some place else. More importantly, is the stuff you’re yet to learn in your current situation, relevant to your self-development? Does becoming an expert in the software development life cycle important in your career as an OH&S workplace trainer? Probably not. Then is this definitely not a valid reason to stay.

Yes I’m sure there is still room to grow in your current position, but if you are unhappy where you are now, you can make a change in your environment and continue the growth in your learning; if not even accelerate it. It’s a win-win.

You decide

Whether you choose to stay or go, make that decision. If you want to leave but are too afraid of the big wide world, recognise that and stop rationalising your decision to stay. If you are not ready to go, make the changes within your job to your best capability. Find a new way to challenge yourself, revamp your work style, and start new social gatherings at the office. Let off steam outside of the office. Find a new hobby, go hiking, or do boxing at the gym. Make some changes in your life overall, not just at your workplace, and it will be like you’ve moved into a new environment.

However if you’re ready to make the big leap, recognise the issues and trepidations discussed above, process it, let it go and just make it happen. What’s the worse that could happen?

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