One of the hardest things in work — in life, really — is knowing how long to wait. How long do I stay in a job I no longer love? How long do I stay working for this boss, hoping our relationship improves? How long do I wait for a new opportunity to come my way? How long do I wait?
While there is no magic bullet answer to the question (sorry), there are important factors to consider that lead you to the answer that is right for you.
Where is it coming from?
First, is it your job/company/situation that you’re trying to escape—or is it you? When we grow tired of something, we tend to no longer put our best effort into it. Performance starts to decline; we start doing the job less well than we have for years. And, there are consequences for that decline that we don’t like … that lead to our liking the company or our role even less.
But be clear of the sequence here, the job or your boss didn’t suddenly change. Your performance changed, and as a result, your situation at work changed. So, before you decide to leave, recognize your role in the situation. Your best action is to change yourself. Whether you stay or whether you leave, you need to bring your best to the table. You may still decide to move on, but be sure you’re running toward something you want, not away from an unsuccessful scenario that may be of your own making.
Pause for reflection
Be sure that what you run toward doesn’t replicate what you hate about the position you are leaving. Too often, we think any new thing has to be better than what I am doing now — only to discover it isn’t. There are things you love about your current job or role — and whether your next role is with a company, in the community, on a board or with your friends/family, be sure you are clear about what brings you joy — and where you excel, and what is uninteresting to you, even if you are good at it.
There are so many possibilities out there for those willing to work hard and contribute. Pause to discern what you want to do next, and what you’d prefer never to do again. Being choosy will help ensure you find something that brings you joy, fulfillment and taps the best of what you have to offer.
Remember, at the end of the day, you can either change jobs, or change yourself, or do both. Put your best foot forward to positively influence your situation — and if the situation doesn’t improve with your changing, waiting may not be enough. You may need to change the job and find something with a higher probability of success.
Waiting and hoping is rarely enough. Take control of what you can control. Bring your best to bear. Ensure that, if you decide to change, that you have already changed the most powerful part of the equation: you.
Leslie W. Braksick, Ph.D., is co-founder and senior partner of My Next Season. Find Braksick’s book “Your Next Season: Advice for Executives Transitioning from Intense Careers to Fulfilling Next Seasons” on Amazon.com.