Another year has come and gone, and like millions of others, I too have returned to the daily grind. I remember how I promised to continue to make baby steps toward financial freedom and my career goals. At 9:05 a.m., moments before the marathon conference calls begin, once more, I find myself wondering why I still work here. How long is too long to stay in the same job, and how do you know when it’s time to go?

What do you need from your job

I ‘m sure I can guess what you need most from your job. Money! I know, me too. That is the first thing that comes to mind when we consider that question, but there are some other important needs that are equally important. Have you thought about why you aren’t happy with your career as it is today? Sometimes we feel like we just need a change. The desire for change is a common feeling, but have you thought about why the urge is present more often lately? The desire for change is rooted in feelings of discontent. In truth, we need to feel fulfillment in the workplace.

Contentment is a primary driver for the desire to change careers. The uncanny thing about this subtle motivator is how often we fail to fulfill this requirement. There are all sorts of reasons that people decide its time to go, as illustrated by the chart below. When we think about our mental tic boxes, those things we think our “awesome” job must have, we organize them into a hierarchy with remuneration at the top.

The average person will overlook most of their requirements if the offered salary is sufficient. While salary is important, it should not be the only controlling factor you consider in the decision. The danger in being completely salary focused is the inability to sustain job satisfaction.

What does satisfaction feel at work?

In your current job, do you feel undervalued, or like the tasks you perform do not meet your basic need for a challenge? This could be an indicator that you are due for a promotion, or that you have outgrown the demands of your current position. Can your season of discontent be repaired by moving to another department? Perhaps you only require additional training and/or credentials to transition into a job that suits you?

If you are seriously attempting to decide if it is time for you to leave your current job, these are the sort of questions that need answers to before deciding to move forward with a career adjustment. All jobs get boring occasionally, but the type of dissatisfaction that we are talking about here is the kind that is unending. Some folks dread waking up in the morning because they know that the new day will only bring more of the same.

Assuming you have decided that it’s time to move on, let’s consider the type of planning you will need to turn your choice into actionable items. This kind of move requires research and thought. If your ultimate career choice is vastly different from what you do currently, take the time to talk with individuals who have already done what you want to do.

Get good details

The first step in your plan is to collect information from your career pioneers. Ask them things like:

  1. How long did it take you to get the skills and experience needed for your current job?
  2. How long was it before you were comfortable with your current income?
  3. What kind of roadblocks did you experience during your journey?
  4. If you could change one thing about what you do now, what would that be?
  5. What was the most unexpected bi-product of your career?

I have accumulated a couple of careers during my journey. Each time I transitioned from one career to the next, I was required to have new skills and experience. Normally, big decisions scare people and keep them trapped in a job/career longer than they ever anticipated. We all want to be happy, but emotional and financial happiness often go hand in hand.

Second, you will need a road map for your finances. Any decision that will alter the state of your financial life demands that you consider two major things:

  • the cost of the change
  • transition time

Still deciding?

Your third step will require some imagination. Think about possible outcomes and contingencies. Try the practice scenario below.

You have been at your current job for the past 5 years and you feel like you have gone as far as you can go with the company. A new function at the same company will only produce a lateral pay increase. The new role does not allow you the autonomy and flexibility that you would need to feel satisfied with your change. You have just been offered a job with “Company X” and you want to know…Is it time to go?

  • If you can negotiate terms that will not put yourself nor your family in financial jeopardy, and the “fulfillment factor’ you require is present its time to go!
  • If you show up to work daily, and you can no longer imagine what it would be like to work anywhere else, you have been there too long and it’s time to go!
  • If you are a spectator, meaning you feel like a powerless observer in your current job, its time to go.

Success starts with a plan

Make a list of the things that you enjoy and are good at. Decide how many “fulfillment factor” points are available. If you need more training or education, plan for it. Sign up for one class and then another. The feeling of progression boosts your motivation. Do things that bring you closer to your dream even when it feels hard or complicated.

The time to get off the comfort train is now, but don’t abruptly abandon your job for your dreams. Transitioning into poverty will hardly increase your feelings of fulfillment. If changing careers means that you are going to have to take a pay cut, may need to create backup funds cushion while you rebuild your career currency in a new field.

Be smart! Figure out your best plan for transitioning from what you do now to what you want to do and make a timeline for completion.

Enjoy the info shared here? Great! Make sure you leave your comments and questions below. It would be great to hear from you. If you have suggestions you would like to share or just a general question send me an email here.