Knowing When it is Time to Change Jobs
In a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks. – Warren Buffett
When I deliver words of wisdom about careers, one piece of advice ETCHED IN STONE is “Never Put Up With an Abusive Boss.” Indeed, it is better to scrub toilets than endure a boss or colleague who beats up your self-worth day in and day out.
You deserve better. If you are truly miserable, stop second-guessing yourself and find another job – maybe even another profession. Enough already.
What is less clear is what to do when you feel miserable some days, and okay the next. Or when you like the job, but your colleagues are beyond annoying. Or when you LOVE your colleagues, but the workload is overwhelming and the pay underwhelming.
And what is even LESS clear is when you are STAGNANT in a job. You aren’t miserable, but you aren’t happy. You are simply comfortable and picking up a paycheck. You aren’t following your passions, but your job pays too much, or the benefits are too good, to walk away. So you toil year in and year out feeling “comfortable” – not challenging yourself, not following your dreams.
Only YOU can decide when it is time to leave a job. Sometimes it is as simple as weighing the good and the bad – if the good outweighs the bad, it may be a better idea to keep patching the boat. But if the bad outweighs the good, then your energies are better spent looking for a new ship to sail.
Whatever your decision, it is vital to keep three points in mind:
1) People naturally FEAR change. Many people stay stuck because they are afraid to change. It is MUCH easier to stay put, which is the origin for the idiom “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” To make a job change, you must be ready, you must be fearless and you MUST be strategic.
2) If you are ready to change, avoid the urge to abruptly “jump ship.” Create an “exit strategy” whereby you can still survive while seeking new paths. I often recommend that there is no shame in working as a bartender, server, receptionist etc. while you are seeking another job. Making a plan is not only strategic, it takes the edge off of your miserable work days as you prepare to set sail.
3) If you want to change CAREERS, play to your strengths. Figure out 1) what you are good at, and 2) what you love to do. And then work as hard as you can to educate yourself, strengthen your skills and explore all of the possibilities. I’ve seen people transition from lawyers to chefs, from servers to personal trainers, from newspaper journalists to teachers. The common thread: they are following their passion and finding joy every day.
If you are miserable – or just passionless and comfortable -- don’t let the fear of change stop you from switching jobs … or even careers. Own your destiny and use your talent and creativity to seek out new paths. No more excuses. It’s time to get unstuck.
Dr. Lori Baker-Schena is the founder and chief executive officer of Baker Schena Communications, a firm dedicated to “Unleashing Your Potential Through the Power of Words.” We offer motivational speaking, leadership consulting and medical writing services. Find us at www.loribakerschena.com