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When to leave a job

Updated: Nov 17, 2022

Every now and again I think back to it. To that job where I was so unhappy. Where I cried at lunchtime. Where I was scared, frustrated and angry. Where people, who outside of the office walls were pleasant, decent human beings, once inside the office turned into bullies and manipulators.

Looking back on it I can now see how they too were scared. Scared of their position. Scared for their reputation. Scared that they would come out of what - quite frankly - was a s**t storm smelling of anything but roses.

But at the time it was horrible. And I couldn't see anything like that at all. In fact I saw everything through a rage. And it seriously affected my mental health and my confidence.

Sometimes we are tempted to chuck it all in. To heroically hand in our notice and go it all alone. And sometimes, to protect your mental health, that is exactly what you should do. But as anyone who has tried leaving without a plan will tell you, if you want to be successful in your career transition having a plan is better!

So here are - in my view - my top 4 signs that it has become time for you to leave:

1. Toxic work situations

We've all been there. The number one reason why you should leave a job. Because when a job becomes toxic it starts to affect your confidence and the belief in yourself. That's when you need to get out. Sooner rather than later.

So, what are toxic work situations? They are situations where your work situation is adversely affecting the rest of your life. So, from toxic cultures, to bullying, to gossip and manipulation. They all can lead to undue stress in your life that are affecting how you are in your day to day life. It can affect your mental and physical health, how well you sleep, your self-confidence, your relationships.

Sometimes though, we believe that we've got to stick it out. Everyone experiences stress in their lives, you say to yourself. And whilst that is true, your body will start giving you signs that something isn't right. When - like me - you feel the stress in your body, when you cry, when you dread going into the office, you'll know.

No job is worth getting ill for. If that's what's happening to you, get out!

2. When you're bored

I can see you. You're sitting there, secretly thinking that you would enjoy not having anything to do for a bit. Don't you? If this is you, then clearly this is not applicable to you.

But, for those of you who are bored at work it can mean two things:

  1. You've outgrown the job and are doing something below your level - in which case I'd say: see if you can involved in something else, a project, a challenge, that will help you to grow. Inside your organisation, or outside. Or go and look for another job. Get out.

  2. The resourcing structure isn't right. Teams have grown too big too quickly. And now you're sitting there wondering what you were brought in for in the first place! Seriously, get out. Go and find something that fills your soul. That helps you grow. Don't waste your life waiting for others to get their act together. Help them to get their act together. Or get out.

3. When you can sniff out an impending reorganisation

I was made redundant. Once, almost twice. I hazard a guess that lots of us have.

And it hardly ever comes as a surprise. It often follows a number of signs:

  • Gossip or actual information about an impending reorganisation,

  • A new director coming in, wanting to make his mark,

  • More senior managers leaving the organisation, even people who have been in your organisation for years,

  • People starting to avoid talking to your team,

  • When you don't get any clear answers about the future of your team,

  • When you don't have enough work.

There may be reasons why you would want to stay in your organisation, or want to stay until the reorganisation is announced (with all its consequences) but sometimes it's better to jump before you are pushed.

4. When you've made (and executed) your escape plan

Question: When is it the right time to leave your organisation, your career?

Answer: Whenever you say it is.

If you have been soul-searching, pondering, planning and taking action to make your career change a reality you can plan your 'escape' based on:

  • Opportunity - When you're in the process of changing careers you will be on the lookout for opportunities. Sometimes opportunities just appear out of the blue. Sometimes opportunities appear as a result of reorganisations.

  • Alternative income - If you have been building a second income on the side what level of income does that need to provide you before you make the jump?

  • Your escape fund - When you have enough money in your bank to keep you secure, for x number of months at least. Ask yourself: what does 'secure' mean for you? Is that three months worth of money? Six? A year?

  • Your plan - You could put a deadline in your plan. 'I want to leave the organisation by this time'. And leave.

  • The amount of time you spent in your side hustle - Sometimes your side hustle is taking up more and more of your time. This might be the time when you decide to leave your job.

  • Gut feel - Yep, I'm all about planning. But sometimes it just 'feels right'. A now or never moment. You'll know.

So there you have it! Four signs that it might be the right time.

What do you think?


And if you've been thinking of leaving for a while, but are struggling to make a plan, why not contact me now?


Tineke Tammes is an ICF credentialed Career Coach, who supports professional women in making successful transitions to careers of Freedom, Flexibility and Fulfilment! Besides that she is also a lifelong feminist, part-time portrait artist, never-only-read-one-book-at-any-time reader, and obsessive doodler. Oh, and she knows a bit about change management too.

Join her now in Pick 'n Mix - the FREE community for creative, multi-passionate women or sign up to the newsletter.

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