A repost from last year because spring cleaning might need to include changing your job.
It’s happened to me before: overstaying my welcome. I started to realize I needed to go because it just wasn’t as good as when I first got there. But, I don’t mean staying too long at a friend’s house party when they come out in their pajamas and you say, Oh, guess I better leave. I mean staying too long at a job.
It’s easy to do because similar to the house party, you’ve settled in, gotten comfortable and outside seems cold and daunting. You might not have even enjoyed your stay that much: bad dip and stale chips or bad boss and stale ideas about how to run an organization. But you keep telling yourself it’s not so bad and then you point to the one or two aspects of your job that do bring you a bit of pleasure. I have talked myself into staying at a job enough times now to know that there are some signs I can’t deny. Any of these happening to you?
Maybe it’s time for a re-evaluation.
You find any reason to not go to work.
We all have days when we would rather stay in bed or days when the sun is calling and we wish we could take off at lunch to go play in it. That’s not what I’m talking about.
I mean that day long workshop you would have hated to go to last year because it would take time away from your real work? This year, your hand shoots up in staff meeting when your boss asks for volunteers and bonus (!) because now it’s two days of boring, irrelevant workshops, but that sounds a lot better to you than sitting at your desk.
Even when you go in, you get in later and later.
Work starts at 9 and once upon a time you got to your desk at 8:45. Then, it was 9:05. And 9:15. Now, they’re lucky if you get to your desk before 10. Your rationale: they don’t pay you enough anyway or last summer you worked all kinds of overtime. Or with the way they treat you, they should be lucky you come in at all!
And when you finally are there, you find any reason you can to not “be” at your desk.
Your friend in an office on another floor sees more and more of you. Your bathroom breaks are so frequent your boss will soon suggest that you might need to “get that checked.” You zone out mentally by always having headphones on listening to music to encourage you to just make it to the end of the day. I used to play Sara Bareilles’s Brave on a loop.
Lying is easy.
I took a birthday trip with my sister and cousin (my ride or die travel companions) to Mexico for my birthday. The trip was incredible, a real turning point in my life actually. I got back stateside reluctant to go into work the next day…so I didn’t. I emailed my boss and said, Oh, so sad, flight delay getting back, looks like I won’t be in tomorrow. I made my exit not too long after that.
And guilt is non-existent.
That extra day I took off? I figured it was better for them anyway. I wouldn’t have been much use that day, I rationalized. And that other time when I told them there was a leak in my apartment and I had to stay home to wait for the plumber? Perfectly reasonable thing to do too. Yup, perfectly reasonable.
And ultimately, you’re never going to be satisfied staying there.
You got a raise. They gave you more vacation time. You’re the lead on the very project you’d had your eye on. None of it matters. You still grumble about how long it took for the raise to come, that the vacation days still don’t seem like enough, that the project is going to take all your workday and some of your free time.
Psst. All of these signs ultimately told me one thing: the job wasn’t the problem.
I had reached a point when the goals for my life and the goals for the job just weren’t working together. And by the way, don’t think that if you’re freelance these things don’t apply to you. Any situation, even ones we once imagined were perfect for us, can turn out wrong.
Often we want to find the quickest and most efficient way to stop feeling pain, the pain of being under-appreciated, the pain of the lack of fulfillment. Eventually though, the only way out is through…the exit door. In the end, it’s better for the organization (or your clients) to have someone who really wants to be there and better for all of us to be in a place where we feel good about the work we do.
And in case you’re working on getting the courage up, here’s my favorite workplace song to-get-me-through-the-day-so-I-wouldn’t-cry. I’m gifting it to everyone who also needs a little bravery.