For most people, dissatisfaction with a job doesn’t happen overnight. We don’t wake up one morning and think, “Wow, I hate my job!” Instead, there’s usually a slow, shallow decline, and before you know it, you’re deep in the abyss and desperate to get out. The rough part about this is that when you’re depressed about work, it’s actually more difficult to muster the energy you need to find a new job.
Job searching requires tenacity, creativity, and patience–all of which are hard to come by when you’re in the throes of even moderate depression. Being able to recognize dissatisfaction early before depression strikes is the key to getting out of a job with enough energy and zeal to find a new, more satisfying position. Because you don’t want to leave your job for just anything: that will only lead to another crash and burn, and you don’t want a series of short stints on your resume. So let’s talk about a few oft-overlooked signs that it may be time to look for a new job.
Your Relationships Are Suffering
There’s an old saying that goes something like this: “If things at home are going well, your career suffers, and if your career is going well, then your home life suffers.” The idea is that you only have enough energy to pour into one aspect of your life at a time. The tradeoff is a successful career or a successful home life. I call shenanigans.
It may be true that if you’re working very hard and spending too much time and energy on your career then you don’t have the time and energy left for family. Our resources are finite, after all. But when done well, putting in the energy and time at work to be successful lead to an overall sense of joy and accomplishment. And that should, in turn, overflow into how you treat people and how you allow yourself to be treated, especially in a relationship. But the reverse is also true.
If you’re miserable at work, you might take out your frustrations on people close to you. Similarly, if work is wearing you down without refilling your coffers, you may find that you don’t have the energy or mental capacity to invest in your relationships. If you are growing distant, angry, or snippy with friends and loved ones, examine whether or not stress from work is affecting your behavior.
You’re Experiencing Prolonged Ennui
In an ideal world, work should bring satisfaction. The reality for most workers, however, is that we put in far more than we get out. Over time, this can lead us toward feeling listless, distant, and apathetic about our jobs. Often, we can combat these feelings of apathy or boredom. Start a new project, make a new stretch goal, forge new connections, or learn a new skill. And we usually don’t have to find a new job for any of these.
But when these feelings endure or none of the above makes an impact, it may be that your current position isn’t giving you the challenge or satisfaction that you need. If you have tried everything and you can’t grow, you can’t develop, and you constantly feel like the work doesn’t matter, it may be time to start sending out resumes.
Your Job Description Significantly Changes
Changes in your day-to-day job are normal. Priorities shift. Fires need to be put out. Your boss’s boss changed her mind about the direction of a campaign or sales play. These things are part of every job, and we should expect fluctuations. But when your overarching goals or direction changes significantly, you may need to reevaluate whether you want this job. In some cases, the new direction might be exciting! If it’s a challenge you feel equipped to handle, the people you’re working with invigorate you (or at least don’t make you miserable) and your workload hasn’t become unmanageable, then you’ve probably just received a gift from the universe.
A break in routine is almost always good. But if you find that you have too much on your plate, your new assignments put you in daily meetings with horrible people, or you don’t have the skills required to be successful, you either need to have a very serious conversation with your manager, or you need an exit strategy. Being able to identify that it’s time for a new job before things get out of hand allows you to take your time and search for a great fit. Looking for a new role at the right company and the right price takes patience and determination. You don’t want to wait until you’re desperate to make an exit. That’s how you end up taking on a job that doesn’t pay enough, is too far away, or doesn’t align with your long-term goals. Take inventory early and often, and always have a plan for your next move.