Is it time to … get out?

Photo of a businesswoman, including her laptop & office equipment, squashed into a small cardboard boxMost people stay in unfulfilling, stressful, challenging-in-all-the-wrong-ways jobs for at least 18 months longer than they should.

(That’s not a formal study, but it is my strong opinion after four decades of observation.)

There’s safety in a familiar, known situation, even when it’s uncomfortable, frustrating, and potentially unhealthy. Human beings don’t like change, even when it’s likely to be change for the better.

So let’s get real here.

There may be ways you can improve the situation you’re in. You might be able to learn new skills, take on new challenges, stand up for yourself in new ways, and make strong new demands for respect, promotion, and a salary increase.

But be honest with yourself: is that going to work? If the skills, challenges, self-respect, promotion, and so on, actually become reality, will you be happy? Will you have a new sense of purpose and meaning? Will you bounce out of bed eager to get to work, and return home with stories of the good things that happened that day?

In just the last week I’ve talked with people who, completely unrelated and unknown to each other, told me of the ways corporate dysfunction was making their lives difficult – I’d even say, miserable.

From micromanagement to severe understaffing; from general disrespect to consistent workload overwhelm; from idea-theft to “sink-or-swim” non-training; and so on … these are good people with high standards who want to do good work, but whose organizations’ culture doesn’t support them – or whose managers don’t have the necessary leadership skills.

Does this sound like you?

Do you feel frustrated, disrespected, overwhelmed, and/or stressed by your job? (On the other hand, if you wonder if  you might be the manager creating this situation, I suggest you read this post.)

If you do … maybe it’s time to get out.

As I write this, the job market is booming. Employers are complaining non-stop that they can’t find qualified people. It’s an excellent time to at least check out your options and possibilities.

Start by listing what you want

What does a good, or even ideal, job look like for you? What are the qualities you want to experience? What values should the organization take a stand for? What opportunities would excite and challenge you? What sort of manager do you want? How about your co-workers and your team?

Make a list. A long, complete, thorough list.

You deserve to have all of that in your work environment.

Update your profiles

LinkedIn, of course, but don’t neglect your other social media accounts. Employers check these things, and you want their digital impression of you to be of someone smart and professional.


Yes. That. Even for extroverts, it’s hard, and for introverts, it’s close to painful. Do it anyway.

And go through your contact list to reconnect with people you haven’t talked to in years. You never know who has a great job waiting for you – or who knows someone with that great job.

Take the leap

Take the leap. Start looking around.

Starting to look doesn’t commit you to actually changing jobs. You might decide things aren’t so bad, and stay put after all. (Note that even in that case, you’ll gain new perceptions of your value and new data for negotiating a better position.)

You owe it to yourself to have a job and a career that you enjoy. And it’s out there somewhere!