How do you really know if you should leave your job?
At the root of this question is not salary and benefits and commute and flexibility. If it were really about those things, you could evaluate the trade-offs and make a decision already. But if the question about whether to leave your job is lingering, it’s because you are not at peace with whatever is driving you away.
Neutralizing negativity about your current work situation will allow the clarity you need to decide if you should leave your job.
There are any number of reasons why you might want to jump ship. Do any of these ring a bell?
Content: I’m not interested in the work anymore. It’s not challenging enough. I’m not sure I have the skills to get ahead.
People: Leadership isn’t being transparent. Management is ill-equipped. My coworkers are driving me crazy. Clients/ vendors/ customer service is grating on me.
Environment: I don’t like the culture. There’s too much travel. There is not enough flexibility and work-life balance here.
Lack of… growth, autonomy, advancement, understanding, support, variability, etc.
All those negatives might be true and prompt considerations to leave your job. But a new job doesn’t fix those negative things.
Let me repeat that:
Getting a new job does not actually address or solve any existing negative experience.
Erasing the people at play, changing the content of the work or the environment, or getting the promise of what you don’t already have addresses very little of the dissatisfaction you have today. It certainly feels like it would answer your prayers, but that feel-good rush can be fleeting.
There are two reasons for this.
- Circumstances and people are actually pretty neutral, except in abusive situations. Your thoughts, reactions, interpretations and perceptions of circumstances and people, however, can bend what you experience toward the negative. And if they can bend toward the negative in this job, they can bend that direction in a new job.
- You never really know what you’re walking into with a new job until you’re finally in it for some time. Remember how excited you were about this job? What happened to that excitement, joy, and promise? In starting a new job, you can’t possibly control for all the coworkers you won’t prefer to be around, the little cultural aspects of day to day work life that you can’t see, or the nuances of the content and material that won’t be to your liking.
So what do you do?
Release any negativity about your current position before you make the leap to another.
This means that if Katy always drags the team down by not being prepared and not pulling her weight, instead of feeding negativity about it, acknowledge that you don’t really know what’s going on in her life that would cause such disruption to the team’s work.
If your manager never gives you any credit and takes praise for work others have done, instead of feeding resentment, recognize that your manager simply doesn’t know how to be a good leader.
If company culture is one that expects you to be on conference calls at night so that you can’t unplug and be with your family, instead of feeding your overwhelm that this company is purposefully burning people out, recognize that this company’s values and yours do not align at this time.
What happens if you do this? If you are able to neutralize the negative emotional response, your decision about whether to make a move to a new job gains some clarity. Either the release of negativity gives you a new way to navigate people and circumstances you don’t prefer and still be effective, or it gives you the tools you need to navigate unexpected conditions in a new job well.
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