Three Signs It's Time to Leave Your Job

Recently, I had given a talk about having purpose at work, after which a woman approached me saying she had made a horrible mistake. She had quit her job and now realized she had taken for granted what really mattered most to her -- the relationships with her co-workers.

How do you know when you should quit your job? Many of us convince ourselves that there must be a better job out there, one that will relieve our frustration and resentment, our unfulfilled yearning in our work. But the reality is that the grass is always greenest where you fertilize it.

What matters most in our work is our relationships, our impact, and our ability to grow. Before making the leap to new job and potentially regretting your decision, take time to reflect on the state of your relationships, the impact your current role has, and your opportunities for personal growth.

Is there more you could be doing to maximize them? Are you valuing the co-workers you spend so much of your time with? Are pushing yourself to go to the next level?

That being said, there are times when the grass truly is greener, and it is important to change where we work or what we do. There are situations that are likely beyond your ability to improve significantly, or where the opportunity elsewhere is markedly better than anything that could be developed in your current situation.

Here are three good reasons for Purpose-Oriented people to seek new pasture:

  1. Your manager. As the cliché goes, most people take a job for the organization and leave because of their manager. This is backed by research as well. No manager is perfect, but there are some who are simply not a good fit, or worse yet are incompetent and undermine the teamwork of those around them. It may be possible to find a new manager inside an organization, but if someone is locked into a bad fit, it may require jumping ship.

  • The organization. If the values of the organization do not align with an employee, it is rarely something that can be fixed. It becomes an issue of integrity. Working for an organization that provides services or produces goods that go against your values overwhelms any purpose that could be gained from your role.
  • The actual work. You may find that you are in the wrong profession for who you are. If you gain purpose from working on policy issues at a societal level, working with individuals as a teacher or doctor without the opportunity to impact larger scale change might feel too limiting. On the other hand, maybe you need direct contact with people you are impacting and find working on a societal level too broad.
  • Take stock of what you have in front of you and what is causing your doubts. Not only will this help you figure out whether to start your search, but it will also help you keep tabs on what you need from your work. Being resourceful and resilient is the way to go. This will allow you to make positive decisions about what you do, where, and how.