Most of us have experienced that feeling of waking up and realising that you actually don’t like the job you are doing – the fit isn’t right, your values are being compromised too much, your skills are being under-utilised. Sometimes this is a sudden awakening – often times it is more a gradual process of change either within you or your work environment (or a combination of both) that turns the job sour. And often, although you may notice changes happening, the magnitude of the impact it is having on you is often not really felt until things are in a bad space.

It is not uncommon for people to stay in jobs that they don’t particularly like (and even hate) for lack of confidence, energy and know-how to make a change, as well as a perceived or real lack of opportunities. Most of us have been like this in our careers at some point – stuck in a job we don’t want to do – but it is at a cost that you may not want to pay.

Charles Handy in his book, The Age of Unreason, recounted the well-known story of the frog that when put into water that is slowly heated, eventually lets itself be boiled to death. Handy uses this metaphor to illustrate how humankind can suffer the same fate due to the inability or unwillingness to notice and react to significant changes that occur gradually. This is very relevant to people at work, who slowly are ‘eaten away’ by jobs they simply don’t like and don’t want to spend their time doing.

So, how do you know when it is time to move on? If you are asking the question, is probably a good sign that it is time for a change.

Here are four common reasons for people deciding to change jobs:

1. Poor job fit.  This is usually caused by a disconnect between your values and what you are actually doing. Importantly, you may not using your skills in the way that you want to or may have outgrown the job.

2. Disconnect between you and management. If you and your manager aren’t working together well, and you have no power to change that, then you may need to move on.

3. Lack of opportunities on the horizon. Career progression is one of the greatest motivators for many people and the reason for many choosing to move on. If you are being overlooked for promotion or the opportunities to grow your career aren’t presenting themselves, then you may need to look elsewhere.

4. Dysfunctional work environment. A workplace plagued by unproductive relationships, unsafe work practices, and/or poor management practices should be avoided. Again if you don’t have the power to influence these things for the better, you will probably be better off moving on.

The hardest part about leaving your job is often just making the decision and to acknowledge what has now dawned on you – its time for a change. Once that decision is made, it is time to start planning a transition that reflects what you are looking for and is fuelled by smart job search.

So if you are waking up to the realisation that it is time to try something new, I recommend that you start to take action sooner rather than later.

Until next time, go well