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Career Q&A - When is the right time to leave my job?

I have been in my job for 7 years and my work feels almost stagnant. How would I know when is the right time to move on to a new job? ~ Peter, Team Leader

The feeling of stagnancy from our work occurs when we feel a lack of engagement (or disengagement) in what we do and experience at our jobs. The disengagement may stem from boredom or from being overworked and burnt out. The disengagement often plays out into feelings and behaviours such as:

  • Feeling really bored at work

  • Dragging your feet to start work

  • Feeling overwhelmed with work

  • Being upset with the people and culture at the workplace

It is important to not take these feelings and behaviours lightly because prolonged disengagement could eventually lead to work performance issues, absenteeism, lower productivity and even spill over into dissatisfaction and cynicism with the personal and family aspects of life. It is certainly not something to ignore or sit on for too long.

To deal with work disengagement, our natural inclination is to think about leaving our jobs and this creates work transitional thoughts in us as we start considering the practicalities, aspiration factors behind making a job change.

We need to reflect on our work situation objectively.

At this point, it would be helpful to take a step back from this and instead, reflect on the present work situation which is causing the work disengagement. We need to learn from our present work situation objectively to identify and understand what might be causing the work disengagement.

To help us look at our work situations objectively, Dr Roberta Neault and Deirdre Pickerell’s work in career engagement points us to look specifically into our capacity to handle the work challenges we face. The model below highlights that we can find career engagement when there is a balance between our capacity of skills, availability, resources and the level of challenge and complexity faced when doing the work. Conversely, any tilt in either factor may tilt our engagement into feeling overwhelmed / under-used and eventually feeling disengaged.

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Here are 3 key questions to ask yourself to objectively evaluate your work situation and identify what may be causing your disengagement.

  1. On a typical work day, how often do you see yourself in the green, orange, red and blue zones? Assign a quantitative percentage if it is helpful to visualise.

  2. What are some difficulties or struggles you see affect your capacity to handle work and the complexity and challenge of your work scope. List out the factors.

  3. For each difficulty and struggle you listed from point 2, brainstorm possible ways that you might try to handle, mitigate or resolve them.

Processing through these 3 questions objectively will allow you to better understand whether the feelings of work stagnation can be improved in this current job or perhaps in a new job. Talking to someone you trust may also help you verbalise and rationalise what you are going through.

At AVODAH People Solutions, we provide career guidance services to people who are considering career changes, making a job change or currently in a transition to find a job. Share your career situation with us so that we can support you.


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