On How to Know It’s Time to Leave Your Job

When the love’s gone, and you don’t know what to do.

I think most people have been there.

The things that brought you joy in this relationship no longer make you happy. The little quirks you accepted have turned into pet peeves. The small annoyances turned into big problems. The pay you once saw as vast now looks meager.

Yes, I think most of us have fallen out of love with a job before. But, much like ending a bad relationship, sometimes it’s difficult to tell that it’s time to go.

You tell yourself itll get better. You think, if only you can change, then things can go back to the way things were. When the time comes to break up, all you can think about is how it used to be so good.

But there’s no shame in admitting that, for whatever reason, what was once a perfect match, no longer is. Maybe you grew apart. Maybe something better came along. Maybe you’re being wooed by a job that promises you much more.

I loved my job. In fact, I love my job, present tense, right now. I can’t stress that enough. It offers me challenges, exciting work, flexible hours. I will miss it when I go.

But I don’t love it enough to stay.

I owe it to myself to seek new adventures in the working world. And that was an earth-shattering realization for me, that I could love something and still make the right choice by leaving it.

So what are the signs that it’s time for you to pack up? For me, they were obvious in hindsight.

You’ve been looking around.

Long before I consciously decided I wanted to leave, I scouted out opportunities on LinkedIn. I checked out job applications. I salivated over the benefits and bonuses. I even sent out a inquiries. I looked at jobs in customer success, content writing, marketing, data science, and more.

Photo by Chase Clark on Unsplash

It wasn’t cheating, I told myself. I was just keeping my skills sharp in case I was made redundant, or I decided to go. I was just exploring what was out there. I wasn’t in a committed contract, for heaven’s sake, I’d never promised to stay indefinitely.

I still felt guilty, even just for looking. Surely if I was really happy where I was, then I wouldn’t even be contemplating making a change.

And slowly, it began to dawn on me that maybe, even though I was happy, I could be happier somewhere else.

Then I got a little scared of that thought and jumped back into work.

When you start looking, take that as a sign that something isn’t quite right. You might not even know what it is yet, but if you’re 100% happy in your current job, you wouldn’t be spending your free time reading job requirements.

You've made a long pros and cons list.

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Much to my own surprise, although of course I shouldn't have been shocked, when I started applying to new jobs, I started getting offers to interview. Again, just for practice, just to stay on top of my game, I interviewed with a few places.

I ended up with two job offers and a lot of uncertainty. Suddenly, people wanted answers and they were offering big bumps in pay, and they needed to know by Friday -- and a possibility I hadn't really contemplated rose from the depths of my subconscious: I could really leave.

Let me underline this: if you get to this point, you've already made your choice whether you know it or not. The list making is just a formality, but one you need to undertake nevertheless.

I was still at the didn't-think-I-knew-the-answer stage. So I got out a big legal notepad and wrote LEAVE and STAY in big letters at the top.

On one side were the possibilities. It could be an amazing opportunity. I could make new friends. I could find a team better suited to my personality. The pay was better, the benefits were better.

On the other, I had the certainties of my life. I knew my current job was safe, I knew everyone in it, I knew I was good at it. It was my safe choice.

But a choice between safety and unknown is no choice at all for someone in my position.

At the bottom of my list, I wrote, not "Why Stay" but "Why not go?"

There was nothing really keeping me.

You start fantasizing about handing in your notice.

Small things which I’d always been able to forget about or sweep under the carpet became very, very obvious. And annoying. My coworker I’d struggled with seemed ten times for frustrating. My boss, whom I normally got along with very well, was more demanding and vague than I’d ever remembered.

Photo by Hunters Race on Unsplash

See, when you’ve got a brand new adventure in your headlights, it’s far too easy to become disillusioned with your current situation. You see there’s a better possibility elsewhere, and the rose-colored glasses of necessity, where things seem OK only because you can fathom leaving, are ripped off.

Every time I was bored, sad, overworked, misunderstood, I thought about saying goodbye.

I understand my new job will have all those same, unavoidable, bad realities that a 9 to 5 entails. But right then, with fire in my eyes, all I could see was how bad it really was at the minute.

I knew it was time before I said it aloud.

At the end of the day, much like a relationship, if you notice you’ve been seriously questioning it for some time now, you’re almost always better off making the change.

I’d been hemming and hawing for months, daydreaming of a better situation, of a change, of a fresh new challenge.

Long before I had a job offer in my lap, long before I googled “how to hand in your notice,” I knew it was time for me to go.

It’s scary, because it feels like you’re leaving something safe, known, comfortable. Your old job is something you know how to do, you know all the perks and all the downsides to it. Leaving that, even when the downsides start to massively outweigh the perks, takes some serious guts.

But if you’ve been vacillating for a while and you’ve landed on this article, consider this your sign, as I should have when I read a similar article.

You’re not happy. You deserve better. Take that chance on yourself.

Biology MSc. Psychology nerd. She/her. Get my FREE 5-day Medium Starter Kit to make money writing about what you love: https://zuliewrites.ck.page/3e3d3a8187

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