5 helpful questions if you’re thinking about leaving your job

The world has changed significantly through the global pandemic and many of us have mused about changing role but is it the role that’s the issue? If you’re considering a move, ask yourself these questions to clarify why you want to leave your current role, what you want to instead and how you will manage the transition.

1 What is it that I don’t like or enjoy anymore?

Assess your current position as this is your starting point for any change or goal. You took your job for a reason, presumably because you wanted it or believed it would reward you with new challenges, an opportunity to learn and grow or more money.

Go back to why you took it and then look at what is different now – is it the role itself? The team or you manager? The company? How you’re managed? How you’re recognised, rewarded and/or respected for what you do? Try to pinpoint the exact reason or reasons why you are no longer enjoying what you do.

2 What do you want more/less of?

This will be your future destination and is closely tied to the first question. Fundamentally, what is it that you want to be different? Be specific, very specific. Thinking, “I’d like more challenge” or “I want to work with an engaged team” is a great starting point but you need to be precise to identify what isn’t working for you now and what would need to happen for your needs and desires to be met.

If it’s about money, how much is ‘more’? 2K, 10K? Be specific. Take a number, try it out in your mind or make notes. What do you want more money for – practical costs or because you feel you are worth more? Find the lowest number that you would look at and then identify the highest, being realistic about the parameters for a role, sector or location.

If it’s less quantifiable than a monetary figure, think about what it would look and feel like. Again, try things out and then, and this is crucial:

rank them in order of importance. If you don’t then you’ll struggle to identify target roles, companies and sectors and could invest a lot of energy with little result and no change.

3 Is it really about the job?

I know I’m not the only person who has felt restless, bored and longing for something more exciting over the past year or so. In fact, earlier this year I was so utterly fed up, I was imagining changing my job completely. I felt underappreciated, irritated and stuck. Coming from me, a career coach, it took me somewhat by surprise! I help clients who are stuck to get unstuck and yet I’d done some of the very things I steer clients away from.

It was a useful lesson though because I realised pretty quickly that it wasn’t the work or the clients, it was me and where my life was – family Christmas all prepared but cancelled last minute, grey skies and January blues, no real plans or goals to motivate me…all combined to put me in a low place.

But I love my job. I get to help people realise what they are good at, what they love and how to move their careers forward. And I know from the results we generate together that it works. On the personal front, it also enables a lifestyle I treasure and would not wish to change.

Factors that impact our mental wellbeing and stress can come from work, but they are not the only source. Talking to other people, I wasn’t alone and realised that quitting my job probably wasn’t going to change much. It’s perfectly natural to feel disconnected, discontent and restless after two years of uncertainty, change and isolation, unable to do things that we have always taken for granted and coming out of Covid only to witness more catastrophic world events.

So, talk to people. How do they feel about their jobs? I think you’ll find sentiments that echo yours – and where mine were – but stop and ask yourself and others, is it really the job?

If it’s specifically your job that is causing you stress and impacting your everyday life – sleep, wellbeing and relationships – then it could be time to change. But please be sure before you take any major decisions. Our jobs have been a key focus, setting the rhythm and keeping us moving forward in a time of stasis with literally nothing else happening, so isn’t it natural that they would be the thing we think is the problem?

But would a different job really be the answer, it’s still a job. Or do we need to look at the whole picture, think bigger, change focus, set goals and find purpose to reconnect us to the world again?

4 Would a smaller change bring the same result?

Thinking about your answers to questions 1 and 2, is it the whole of your job that is the source of the problem? Are there other things you could look at – and perhaps try – to make your current job or situation better before you decide to resign?

Would a reduction in hours spent on Teams or Zoom calls give you time back to get your job done? Changing your working pattern? Saying no (nicely) sometimes instead of always saying yes or assuming you need to do everything yourself? Mapping what you do, how you do it, where you spend your time (or have it sucked away) and who you interact with is a great way to do some root cause analysis of what’s triggering your unhappiness with your job.

Talking to someone objective can help too. You’d be surprised what comes up when I first start speaking to clients about their concerns and pain points. Often a safe environment to download in where they can explore anxieties and issues without judgement releases a huge amount of tension and provides a clearer perspective.

Talking does help.

Acknowledging you’re struggling and or unhappy is very therapeutic but not everyone has the support network they need or an audience who can listen without offering what they feel are helpful suggestions! Very quickly, for some of my clients, it becomes apparent there are one or two triggers, rather than it being the whole job. Then we can start to tackle those to improve the situation.

The more you can laser in on issues and pin them down, the more you can find solutions.

5 What would I lose?

Work isn’t just about the nuts and bolts of doing your job, it brings with it a host of other things – being needed, drive, connectivity, learning, relationships, structure, purpose…and let’s not forget money and rewards.

Of course, there are factors outside of your control – you can’t singlehandedly fix workplace culture or bump pay scales but there may be things you can raise with your manager and/or leadership team.

Reflect on the positive side of your job, company and situation before you make your decision. There may be adjustments or compromises that offer a workable solution.

If you are considering being part of the ‘great resignation’ and looking for a new role or direction, then why not get in touch for a chat about how some sessions of Career Therapy could help you?

Email louise@careertherapy.co.uk 
Linkedin Louise Newton
Header photo by 愚木混株 cdd20 on Unsplash
Main text photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

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