How do you know when it's time to move on from your current job?
"A year from now you will wish you had started today." - Karen Lamb, writer
I admit it: I hate change. In my head though, I'm Marco Polo. I have lots of plans of the things I will do someday. But today, the most courageous thing I do is enter my twin boys' room - you really never know what you will find lurking in there. Change is hard. So, when do you know it's time to make a job move? Why risk losing what you have? The short answer: inertia carries a risk as well.
I believe that we're all here to give the world our best work. Our careers should be a representation of this work, and each job represents a moment and time where we had the opportunity to learn and give. When you're not doing either anymore, it's time to move on and give someone else the opportunity. So, how do you know when it's time to move on from one place? The short answer: if you're not learning or giving. The longer answer is below.
The job gets too easy. If you can do your job blindfolded and you're not a magician, it's time to start thinking about "what's next?" The "what's next?" may actually be within your current company. If you like your company, you may want to see about developing or expanding your current role to take on more responsibility. If this is not an option, then start looking for a new role or company.
You stop caring. If you start coming in late more often, calling out sick, letting deadlines pass you by, then you may be mentally checking out of your job. I would try to not let it get to this point, since it's wise to leave your current company on good terms. Once you start getting the "who cares?" attitude, it may be time to start looking for a new job.
You only think about your work at work. I'm not advocating for you to become a workaholic, but people who are passionate about their work tend to think about it even when they're not in the office. Many of your best ideas may actually come when you're home relaxed and not focused on a work-related issue. In that state, the solution to that problem at work or that idea for your next campaign may naturally emerge. Also, people who are passionate about their work are more likely in their leisure time to be sharing it or looking for connections in the "outside world." If you find that you're not doing this and work is compartmentalized into specific hours from nine to five, then it may be a sign that something is off.
Everyone else's job sounds more interesting. I love daydreaming and at times imagine about what it would be like to be doing something else; however, if my daydreams start to take over, I would look at what they are telling me more seriously.
Your life and work are out of balance. Many people leave their careers when their work and life are out of balance. If this is your case, see if you can make it work where you are. Maybe you need more flexible hours or telecommuting options. If this is not an option, then find something that will be flexible. There's no quicker way to resent your work and colleagues than when it starts to infringe on your life as a whole.
You don't get along with the people you work with. Our colleagues and coworkers are important. If you typically get along with people and you're now in a situation where you're not and it seems permanent, then my recommendation is to start looking for another job. However, if you typically find yourself in this situation, then maybe you need to start looking inward. The bottom line is, even the worst of circumstances can be enjoyable if you like the people you're with. Always look for good people to work with; it'll make the difference between a mediocre job and a great one.
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Based in New York, Anna Papadopoulos has held several digital media positions and has worked across many sectors including automotive, financial, pharmaceutical, and CPG.
An advocate for creative media thinking and an early digital pioneer, Anna has been a part of several industry firsts, including the first fully integrated campaign and podcast for Volvo and has been a ClickZ contributor since 2005. She began her career as a media negotiator for TBS Media Management, where she bought for media clients such as CVS and RadioShack. Anna earned her bachelor's degree in journalism from St. John's University in New York.
Anna's ideas and columns represent only her own opinion and not her company's.
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