A Miserable Job- Should You Stay Or Should You Go?

pic for miserable job

A question I am often asked by so many leaders at different points in their careers is- “When is the best time to leave my current position?” Of course if I had the perfect response I would share it with enthusiasm but the truth is, it depends. Everyone’s situation is different and each of us possesses a certain level of risk-taking and tolerance for a challenging work environment.

A week ago I was working with a young leader who was toying with making a move. He wasn’t sure what to do although his current situation was growing more and more unbearable. He was feeling unappreciated and not given much encouragement from his supervisor for a job he was in for about a year. We spent time talking about the pros and cons of leaving or taking the risk of applying for a new role. Either way the decision wouldn’t be an easy one.

Here are some strategies to think about when a job change is calling to you:

Ask yourself-What is happening in my current role?

Taking an honest look at what has gone wrong in our present position isn’t so easy, yet major league necessary. What exactly isn’t working and why? Perhaps your boss is part of the derailment. Maybe the job responsibilities aren’t what you had imagined. And there may be some truth to the fact that you might be contributing to the problems.

Think if there are ways to make the job better

When we are contemplating a job move, we may want to first see if there is anything we can do to make things better.

  • Are there skills I need to learn to be stronger?
  • Can I talk to my supervisor about my challenges?
  • How can I call on my co-workers to help?
  • What changes can I make to have a higher performance level?
  • What’s preventing me from excelling?
Take a look from your boss’s vantage point

Although not something we may want to consider, it can be a helpful exercise to try to understand why our boss feels the way she does. Identify why your boss doesn’t see all your hard work. Are we putting forth our best effort? Also, our bosses are sometimes under severe pressure to perform and some of that anxiety may spill over onto us.

Decide on your level of risk-taking

While some leaders look forward to change and movement, others have a more difficult time stepping outside their comfort zone. Are you comfortable taking the risk to try a new position knowing it may not work out? There are unknowns in a new job from the responsibilities to a different type of supervisor to new team members. Just consider your individual risk-taking levels.

Call in your support network

If you are contemplating a job or career change it can be a great idea to reach out to mentors, coaches, friends or family members to bounce off ideas.

  • Come prepared to these talks with your current job concerns
  • Stay open to what your trusted advisors have to say
  • Be truthful about your situation
  • Share your reasons for leaving clearly
  • Set follow-up meetings to express concerns or questions
Make sure the jump to a new position aligns with your professional goals

Having a clear set of goals and core values will always keep you on the right path and warn you when the crossroad isn’t for you. If you need a more nurturing supervisor, make sure the next position offers that. Analyze whether a particular job will enrich your current experiences and knowledge. It might make sense to switch or it might not be worthwhile.

Don’t make a quick move-Think it through

It always pays to be methodical if we can when considering a job change. If no one is forcing us to make the move, then allow yourself the time to reflect, research and ask the necessary questions. Get enough information without overthinking what’s really best.

How have you decided whether you should stay or go when contemplating a job change? What tried and true ways have worked for you?



6 thoughts on “A Miserable Job- Should You Stay Or Should You Go?

  1. I love each one of your points, Terri! I truly believe that calling in our support network is critical when facing a tough decision like this…and my only caution would be to vet their advice and savvy BEFORE you actually need them. There are lots of folks I know who would always side with me and essentially be nothing more than “Yes” people, agreeing with whatever I said. In a situation like this, I think it’s very important to have thinkers around us who will question the question we are posing…

  2. Surrounding ourselves with advisers and mentors who will provide us with honest feedback is critical. If we want to have different viewpoints so our decision of whether or not to move to a new job is clearer, we need to be open to authentic advice from people who have our best interests at heart.

    Thanks LaRae for a great addition!

  3. As a chemical Engineer, i changed jobs 3 times during a total period of around 9 years.
    I agree, endorse and appreciate all these practical points.
    A state of “double mindedness” must be avoided.
    Consultation with sincere & experienced persons is very helpful.
    Every young, ambitious and energetic youth must read this article.
    Zafarmanzoor, Engr. Pakistan.

  4. Love these questions Terri!
    Are there skills I need to learn to be stronger?
    Can I talk to my supervisor about my challenges?
    How can I call on my co-workers to help?
    What changes can I make to have a higher performance level?
    What’s preventing me from excelling?

    I’ve decided to go when I’m no longer growing professionally and don’t see a path forward in the company I am in. I’ve also left when my values were no longer in alignment with the organization.

    And to LaRae’s points – My network weighed in heavily in those decisions.

  5. Changing jobs frequently is what many of us will be facing in our careers. The key is knowing when to make the moves and making sure that jumping to a new opportunity is better than fixing our current situations. When we make position changes because we are so unhappy it can just bring us to another unsatisfying role.Taking our time and choosing the best course is the way to go.

    Thanks Zafarmanzoor for your great comments!

  6. Questions are a powerful way to think about the crossroads we come across in our careers and jobs. When we answer them honestly we empower ourselves to choose the right next move.
    I agree with you that when we are no longer growing professionally and our values don’t align with our company’s values, it is time for a change.

    Thanks Chery for your wonderful insights!

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