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How To Know When To Leave Your Job

After years of exams, school, college, university all going to plan most of us find ourselves in some form of career.

For some, the career route was mapped years ago maybe with lots of nudging by well-meaning parents. Others like me who entered the Tech industry when it was booming in the 90s fell into a sector on the rise and for a long time soared on the success, and had a lot of fun.

Until one day I looked around the office at my future 20 years down the line and had a sinking feeling that I definitely didn’t want to retire doing this job for the rest of my life. It took a lot longer to quit and I actually started working on my side-hustle a few years before actually taking the leap.

The five signs that it’s time to change career are as follows:

Self-sabotage

The tech sector has always had a challenge retaining and attracting female talent so it was pretty easy to switch companies. In my last two jobs although I was enthusiastic about the role initially after three months I was day dreaming of life beyond the IT sector.

Although I diligently showed up every day my heart was elsewhere and I was faking my enthusiasm. I wasn’t making an effort with my appearance, not that anyone would notice but it was how I was feeling inside apathetic and bored. In other’s I’ve seen scenarios of not caring being played out by missing targets, arriving late at meetings, calling off sick. Unconsciously its wanting out and allowing yourself to drop the ball on one too many occasions.

Toxic culture

A toxic culture can manifest itself in many ways. One such would be somewhere there is routine discrimination, backstabbing nastiness generally or against you or your team and senior management team just don’t care. There is no point reporting this to HR as the culture is one of protecting a selected high performing in group who have a lot of clout.

There are also subtle examples of toxic cultures. A client of mine a high flying completer finisher Marketing Director who landed a fabulous job with a well-known consultancy soon realised that the company had a culture where it was OK to waste time and money on half-finished ideas and projects. She would be asked to research and present a paper to the board only to discover that a day before the deadline the board was no longer interested in that initiative. Everyone else was OK with this but she started to feel isolated and not relevant. The culture was toxic to her personality and preferred working style.

Feeling at odds with your life purpose

You just don’t feel what your company is doing is meaningful or aligned to your personal values and its beginning to grate. You constantly start to question the purpose behind what you are doing. You may even be really good at what you do bit you also know that deep down you have so much more to give. Not having a feeling of connection with something you are doing day in day is painful. Eventually there is a feeling of despondency, frustration and boredom.

Your boss is a bully

My very last boss before I decided to go it alone, described himself as a philanthropist who had set up a charitable foundation and talked at length at interview about how the corporate job was a tool for helping poor underprivileged children with educational opportunities. At the time I thought this was great as I was developing a deep interest in these areas and it felt as if things were coming together. I was now going to be working for someone who also had similar interests. Everything felt aligned; our career aspirations and our deeper values.

Two weeks into the job I realised my boss had major challenges around personal boundaries. As I was packing to leave for the evening my boss called a team meeting. We all stayed late and it soon became obvious that this happened on a regular basis. With little notice, just as we were about to leave, he would call a meeting. It was about control and mind games. When approaching him with a question, his body language was dismissive and abrupt. He gave me no guidance on tasks and then criticised me and made me feel incompetent. I was out of there before my trial period ended on my terms.

Stressed, miserable and moody

Have you ever got on the train or in your car on a Monday morning and wanted to turn around and head straight back home as you just can’t face going into work. Or you are working all hours and that includes emails in the evenings after work and weekends. Feeling depressed, stressed and moody is becoming the norm then something needs to change.

Especially if there is no light at the end of the tunnel. If the more you give, the more they take and there is no appreciation or give – it’s time to quit!

How to leave and afterwards

Once you decide to leave I recommend the ‘elegant exit’. If you want to go it alone and start your own business I would start working on your side-hustle straight away. Researching what you want to do, maybe start a blog, take a course. The day you do hand in your notice you walk straight into day 1 of your new business. Psychologically it makes a big difference to walk away with a plan of action. Just make sure you have enough savings (between 6 to 12 months to fall back on)

If you decide to quit because you’ve had enough and need to take some time out in between the next job. Once you resign there may be an initial feeling of elation and relief, this is usually followed by a slump.

It is common to feel scared, angry and isolated after some time. Once you are ready start looking for your next role but be prepared for worst case scenario that it will take a lot longer.

Choose the company of positive friends and family who support you as you seek your next venture. If you want to make big career/life changes but just don’t know what you it is you want to do hiring a coach is a great investment.

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