How do you know when it’s time to leave your job?
Well… this is not a simple question. Especially if you love your job and it’s intricately woven into your identity - this is not an easy decision. And while I always recommend working with a coach if you’re considering a massive transition, my hope is that this can at least help you gain some comfort, clarity, and peace.
Also, please note, this post does not apply to you if you are experiencing harassment or your safety at work has been compromised, and that is why you’re considering leaving. Those are different issues that should involve you getting the support you need from people you trust.
But for everyone else who is experiencing work drama that has percolated to a boiling point, or is dealing with a horrible boss, or hates going into work everyday… you’re probably consciously or unconsciously singing “should I stay or should I go now? If I go there will be troublllllle, if I stay there will be doublllllllle.” Before you even consider leaving that job though, please ask yourself these questions and write down your answers. It’s amazing what can come out on the page.
Take at least 3 deep breaths in and out of your nose. Close your eyes, ask the Universe for guidance and insight, and then begin jotting down the answers to these questions.
Is what I’m experiencing right now a pattern? Have I experienced this before?
If you have experienced this before, then before going anywhere, you need to figure out - what is the lesson from these similar experiences? (otherwise it will just happen to you again at the next place)
What did the different jobs or bosses or situations where you’ve experienced this before have in common?
What about the two (or more) situations was appealing at first?
When did things start to go wrong?
By starting to unpack the similarities, you can begin to understand why you were attracted to similar situations (and then not make that mistake again)
2. What was my part in this? How did I contribute?
If you cannot answer this (i.e. it’s all their fault, I haven’t done anything, I’m the victim) than you’re still in your ego. Taking radical responsibility in your life and career means owning up to your part in what you’re currently experiencing… even if it’s as simple as “I allowed this to go on for way too long.” Plus, don’t give them that much power. Whether you realize it or not, you’ve created your reality. Own it.
We often teach people how to treat us. At any point did you encourage this behavior that you’re receiving? At any point did you try to stop it, create boundaries, or stand up for yourself? If not, why not?
We attract what we believe (even if we don’t realize it).
For example, if you have low self-esteem or limiting beliefs, you may find yourself ending up in these jobs that couldn’t be further from what you really want. They feel like tests, and they are. You are being tested and asked to learn lessons that will help you grow, so that you can call in what you truly desire. These tests are indications that you either are not in alignment with what you desire, or have limiting beliefs that are blocking you.
Growing my own self-worth and self-esteem has been an ongoing journey. In my 20s, I kept finding myself in work situations where I was being hired by bosses who were seemingly very confident, only to find out that they were anything but. At first it felt great, they provided me with purpose and the illusion of power, and in return I was their go-to person whom they could rely on to get things done. But over time, I would wind up feeling like I was giving too much, only to feel mistreated, and wondering how I got myself into this situation yet again.
When I started truly loving myself, creating healthy boundaries, and not allowing myself to be put in situations like that, they simply stopped showing up.
We always receive some sort of benefit from what we’re currently experiencing. What did you get out of the situation? Even if that answer is simply “a paycheck,” you are still getting something. Acknowledging this will help pull you out of a victim mentality.
3. What have I learned from this situation? How can this experience make me better?
I’m gonna say this many times on this blog… the things we experience at work are meant to serve as lessons in life. You get to decide if this situation is going to make you better, or be the reason for your downfall.
You get to choose how you let this experience impact you. Grow from it. Let it motivate you to be your best. Learn everything you can from the narcissistic boss or the vicious coworker. Be the best version of yourself that you can be. Act in integrity. Keep your side of the street clean. And know that if and when you do decide to walk, it’s because you’ve truly given all that you have, learned all that you can, and are leaving so much better than when you came in.
I hope this serves you.