Updated: Apr 15
Even at the best of jobs we’ve all had moments when we wonder if we’re in the right position or if we should look for a more challenging, fulfilling role elsewhere. These are usually fleeting thoughts, and we move on to the next project. However, these thoughts can be indicators that we need to look more closely at our work situation and determine if it really is the best possible fit for us. Here are 3 signs that it might be time to start looking for your next job opportunity.
1) It’s no longer challenging
The first 3 – 6 months of a position are always my favorite. Sure, it’s a little stressful getting to know the position and learning what exactly is expected of you, but it’s also a thrilling challenge! This is the time when you’re learning something almost every day and potentially taking on entirely new projects.
You know a position is right for you if you’re continuing to learn new things and taking on ever more challenging tasks even after that the initial learning phase. If it seems like the learning period has stalled, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to leave the company. Instead, speak with your manager to see if there are any other responsibilities you might take on. Or pitch that project idea you’ve been thinking about to your manager.
If management isn’t interested in you taking on extra projects and you’re bored out of your mind, consider looking at other positions within your organization. Maybe even in a different department. If that fails, it may be time to start looking outside your company for a role that will be a bit more challenging.
2) It’s no longer fulfilling
Though this seems similar to no longer being challenging, these can actually be very separate situations. Just because a position is challenging, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s fulfilling. Gaining a sense of fulfillment means something different for every person. Fulfillment for one person might simply be earning a great paycheck while for another person, it could mean giving back to their community.
A position you once thought of as fulfilling might lose its luster a few years into the position. Maybe you want to do something that lets you help other people and you don’t feel that your current position will allow you to do that.
Before you quit, make sure there aren’t other options within your current organization which might make you feel more fulfilled. First, you’ll need to identify what it is that will help you feel more fulfilled in your work. Is it making more money? Is it helping others? Maybe it’s traveling more for work. Or traveling less. It’s also important to determine whether this need could be fulfilled outside the workforce. Could you volunteer during your off hours and have this need fulfilled? Or maybe start a small business on the side and find fulfillment that way?
Trying to figure out why you feel unfulfilled in a position can be a daunting task. This might be a great time to consider speaking to a life coach or mentor to help you identify what it is that will make you feel more fulfilled.
Once you’ve determined what will make you feel more fulfilled at work, see if it’s something that’s compatible with your current job. This might require thinking outside the box and pitching ideas to your manager. If nothing seems to stick, then it’s probably time to start looking for a position that would be more fulfilling.
An important note here on mental health. Sometimes no longer feeling a sense of fulfillment from things that previously made you happy can be a sign of depression. Just because you no longer enjoy work, doesn’t mean you’re depressed, but if that feeling of unfulfillment has spread to many areas in your life, consider speaking with a professional mental health provider.
3) You dread going to work (not just on Mondays)
It’s common to have a few days here and there where you’d rather stay home than go to work, but if every day is a fight with your inner self to get out the door, then it might be time to reassess what’s going on.
If you work in a toxic, drama-filled environment, then just the fact that you’ve already identified it as a toxic place to work is a pretty clear indicator that it’s time to seek alternate employment.
This can also be said of working in a stressful environment. If you still love the job, then the stress might be worth it. But if you’ve found that the stress outweighs the paycheck and/or co-workers you love working with, then it might be time to consider looking elsewhere for a less stressful position.
While experiencing any one of these signs individually could be enough to move you toward looking for your next position, experiencing all three at once is a pretty clear indicator that it’s time to move on. The good thing is that you’ve learned something valuable from your experience at that company – namely, what you don’t want in your next job! Use that information to help you determine if other positions or companies will be a good fit and you’ll be less likely to end up in the same situation as you are now.