Before you read this, it’s my duty to issue you with a stern warning.
If you read this article, you might decide to quit your job.
So… consider yourself warned, ok? Now read on, if you dare.
It’s the end of the year and a time of reflection. Some of us will feel lucky to have made it through the past 12 months intact, while others might be riding high on the buzz of achievement. Which one are you?
My question to you is: If you didn’t achieve what you wanted last year, well… just how long are you going to wait?
There are two problems to overcome when we know we’re not fulfilling our potential at work. The first is knowing when it’s time to make a break, and the second is gathering the confidence to do so.
Here are five signs that it’s time to move on.
- Our job is eating our soul.
To the sufferers, this one will barely require explanation. When our job is eating our soul, the feeling is both palpable and unmistakable. Instead of going to work to expand, live large and fulfil our potential, we feel a sensation of ‘shrinking’ back into ourselves. Perhaps we put walls up to repel the effects of a bad organisational culture, or maybe it’s that sensation of work reducing us to a shell of our former selves. In any case, when work is eating our soul it’s time to pack our bags.
- Our leadership is being squashed.
You know the feeling. Whenever we step up in leadership, we get squashed – put back in our box and knocked back down to our lowly rung on the corporate ladder. Our ideas fall on deaf ears, other leaders take credit for our work, nothing gets implemented because nobody can make decisions and we’re constantly told all the reasons why change can’t happen. If we’re ready to lead positive change but our organisational environment doesn’t allow it, then we owe it to ourselves to find one that does. It’s time to move forward and shine.
- It’s a psychologically unhealthy workplace.
When going to work makes us constantly sad, angry, depressed, anxious or stressed, it’s time to get out. Psychologically unhealthy workplaces are ones where we don’t feel safe to uphold our standards, speak our mind, offer our best contributions and make an impact. It could be a workplace bully who is not being managed, poor leadership behaviours allowed to run riot or a culture of putdowns being acceptable. Do we really need to hit rock bottom before we decide to make a change? We only live once. How many more days will we spend compromising our psychological health?
- It’s affecting our physical health.
When work is annihilating our physical health it’s time to seriously consider our options. A few years ago, it was ‘normal’ to see my physiotherapist at least once a week for a ‘frozen shoulder’. I thought it was from computer use – but now, I know it had nothing to do with keyboarding and everything to do with an unhealthy organisational culture impacting stress and manifesting pain in my body. These days, I regularly pull 16-hour days for the love of it without a single symptom – and I haven’t seen my physio for years. (She says she misses me.) For others, it might be weight gain or loss, headaches, migraines, stomach upsets, back pain or anything else. The question we must ask yourself is this: If we loved our job in a healthy environment, how would we feel? Now, go feel better.
- It’s time to back ourselves.
I hear grumbling that job availability in the region is poor, that jobs are to be cherished because they are hard to come by… blah, blah, blah. Frankly, I call BS on that whole defensive strategy. Argue and defend your right to stay miserable if you must, but hear this. For those of us running the self-defeating strategy of staying ‘comfortable’ in an organisational cesspit because ‘jobs are hard to come by’, it’s time to stop hiding from our potential and take back our power. Know that our skills are hugely valuable – to other employers, or maybe in our own business. And that kind of certainty doesn’t come from external sources like job market statistics. Nope, it’s an inside job. It’s our inside job.
So, how do we gather the confidence to make a bold change?
First, we must become present – that means not engaging in distractions which allow us to forget that we’re not living our highest purpose. We move away from pain quicker than we move toward pleasure – so if we’re ready to make a change, feeling the pain is the first step. Next, get clear on our success strategy which will be a combination of recognising what’s worked for us in the past and then leveraging those strengths. Finally, access your internal certainty. This is not a ‘doing’ thing – we can’t do more access certainty – instead, it’s a way of being.
If you need help with accessing the presence and certainty you need to make bold career choices, I can be found drinking cappuccinos with my laptop across the Fraser Coast’s coffee shops and beachside locations. Come and say hello!