Over the course of a career, we all have days that we might rather stay in bed than go to work. We all have to perform tasks we don’t enjoy now and then. And we all encounter colleagues, supervisors, or clients we don’t always get along with. But when your feelings about your job are more negative than positive on a daily basis, then maybe your current position isn’t right for you anymore.
However, as Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic points out in his Harvard Business Review article “5 Signs It’s Time for a New Job,” many people make the mistake of letting emotional factors drive their decision to make a career change and end up disappointed. To avoid this, you need to rationally evaluate what you like and don’t like about your current position; then assess whether it’s necessary to leave your employer in order to improve the situation.
Ask yourself the following questions to decide whether it’s time to look for another job:
- Is your learning rate starting to plateau? The continuous acquisition of new knowledge and skills is critical to advancing in your career. According to Edmond Lau in his Time article “How to Know When It’s Time to Leave Your Job,” the more knowledge you acquire, the stronger your foundation for quickly acquiring even more knowledge. That means that if you’re not being challenged anymore and your tasks are becoming routine, your professional development will start to stall. If this is the case, evaluate whether you can amp up your learning by asking your supervisor for more responsibilities or volunteering for things such as speaking at conventions or contributing to trade magazines. There’s often quite a lot you can do to ensure you’re consistently facing new challenges.
- Are you losing interest in or disliking the work? If your company has changed course in terms of products or services, or if your responsibilities have changed, you might not be enjoying the day-to-day tasks as much as you once did. Find out whether the change is permanent or if you’ll be doing more interesting work again in the future. At the same time, it’s also possible that you’ve simply become more interested in another professional area that your current employer doesn’t cover.
- Are you able to realize your ambitions? If you accepted the position with the understanding that you’d be able to progress in the company but you’re still in the same position after a couple of years, then you should assess whether that’s due to a lack of performance or a lack of opportunity. If it’s due to your performance, then you should find out how to improve, since you’re likely to run into the same problem with another employer. However, if there simply aren’t enough opportunities, then maybe another company has more to offer.
- Are you having problems with your team or supervisor? Interpersonal relationships can be a source of stress and unhappiness with your job. Quitting a job because of this isn’t advisable, because you could very well encounter personality clashes at the next company. Instead, try to work things out with your colleagues. Read up on establishing rapport and being a good team player. If necessary, initiate a conversation to clear the air.
- Do you want to work in a more exciting environment? For some people, a stable and organized work environment is conducive to being productive. For others, an exciting and unpredictable environment drives them to perform well. If your current work environment isn’t providing you with the stimulation you need to feel truly engaged and do your best work, then it could be time to move on to a start-up or emerging industry where stakes are high, structures are less formal, and processes are still in the establishment phase.
Leaving your job is an important decision that should be based on rational evaluation of your current situation and your desired career path. By asking yourself these five questions, you can objectively assess whether a career change is the right choice or whether your current position still offers enough value to your professional development.