For many people, unhappiness is better than uncertainty, and that’s what keeps them locked into jobs they can’t stand. Jumping ship is scary, but as Zirtual founder and CEO Maren Kate Donovan writes in a helpful Entrepreneur post titled “5 Signs It’s Time You Need a New Job,” career change constitutes “an option that should be explored as a viable solution to professional problems.” But how do you know when that option should be explored?
Donovan’s first sign is that “you face an unbalance risk:reward ratio.” In other words, the rewards of staying put aren’t enough to dissuade you from undertaking the risks associated with looking for something new. As an example, Donovan recalls her stint tending bar — a job she enjoyed well enough but ultimately found unsatisfying, since she had no control over her situation. From time to time, she’d have ideas on how to cut costs and improve customers’ experience, but no one listened.
Another sign it’s time to split: apathy sets in. According to Donovan, when a job is the right fit, you’ll want to perform well, and you’ll feel bad about “dropping the ball” from time to time. If, on the other hand, you’re screwing up regularly and not really caring, it’s a surefire sign you’re in the wrong place. Donovan’s advice: start your search before you get fired, since it’s easier to find a job when you already have one.
Not all warning signs have to do with the workplace itself. No. 3 on Donovan’s list: “Your personal life has disappeared.” If you’re spending all of your time at the office and not making time for friends and family, something is amiss. It’s one thing to work long hours, but if your job is draining you of energy rather than energizing you, it’s probably time to mosey.
And it’s not only important to maintain relationships outside of work. Donovan’s fourth sign it’s time to quit is “your friendships with colleagues is nonexistent.” She says it’s vital to have at least one friend at work, as they can give advice and serve as a sounding boards when you get frustrated. If you’re buddy-less, it probably means you don’t jibe with the company culture, and that means you’d be better off elsewhere.
Donovan’s final sign involves disagreeing with company mission. It’s important to feel invested in the work you’re doing, and if the company’s mission shifts in a way you can’t support, you’re bound to be unhappy. Donovan recommends meeting with higher-ups to get clarification on the mission and then decide whether you’re willing to work hard in support of the goals. If not, it’s go time.