In today’s episode, Anna looks at how you know if this is the right move for you and when is the “right time” to quit your job.
Do you fantasise about a world in which you love your job to the point that you jump out of bed in the morning with excitement at the thought of what you’re going to do today? Do you long for more freedom and flexibility in your daily schedule? Do you wish that you were creating something really meaningful, that could make a difference to something that matters? But how do you know if this is the right move for you? And when is the “right time” to quit your job? Here are 7 of the most common signs that it’s time to time to quit your job and move on. How many boxes do you tick?
*Resources mentioned during the episode*
The One Step Outside Facebook group– Join us over in the Facebook group to meet like-minded people who are working on reimagining success in their life and business and to get access to direct support and free training sessions from Anna. www.facebook.com/groups/onestepoutside
Hello, hello there and welcome back to the Reimagining Success podcast. Now, we were celebrating the two-year anniversary of my book. I was just looking down to see if I had a copy here, which I don’t, but I have many here in my bookcase, Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5: Stories from people who’ve done it (and how you can too!). Last week I shared, I more or less read, an article that I wrote soon after quitting my job, which was 10 Things I Learned After Quitting My Job Without A Backup Plan.
This week, I thought we’d address: okay, this all sounds hunky-dory, all well and good, sounds interesting, but it’s not really for me. Or, hang on Anna, how do I know that I should be rethinking my career, I should be changing my career, now is a good time – if there ever is a good time – and, how can I know that this really is the point at which, you know what, I need to make a change, and more dramatically perhaps transform my life and lifestyle by creating my own business outside of the 9 to 5? And it’s a really important question.
People, of course, ask me, what triggered you to leave? To be honest, the strange thing is, I suppose the strange thing is that there wasn’t a trigger for me. There can be a trigger like burnout, redundancy, ironically promotion – we’ll talk about these in a moment. For me, it was more a gradual wearing down.
I always say I never regret the work I did. There was no point, in any case, there because he can’t go back and change our career choices anyway. All we can do is decide what we want to do from now on, from today, from tomorrow.
However, I learned so much. The work I did in a big multinational corporation has opened so many doors to me since leaving there. I met incredible people. I got lots of training. It was a fantastic opportunity. It was financially very good at the time and allowed for a lot of the things I was able to do later on. So no regrets. It wasn’t that I hated it. It was just that it was a bit of a disconnect between what I thought I should be doing and what I was doing. I had studied international relations. I’d wanted to work in development at the United Nations and an NGO. I ended up, as I always say, accidentally doing marketing for perfume and beauty products. I ended up specialising in digital marketing, which of course is a fantastic skill set. And again, it’s something I leveraged now and has been a fantastic asset, but it wasn’t something I dreamt of when I was younger, if that’s ever the case.
I was surrounded by some people who lived and breathed beauty, these beautifully glorious, slim, stylish, French, and Italian men and women who loved the world of Dolce Gabbana and Gucci, and so on. Who lived, and breathed, and loved advertising. Who’d done an MBA or had studied marketing management. This job was their dream. That wasn’t me.
There was a disconnect for me. I didn’t feel like it insider. I felt like a bit of an outsider. I thought I should be doing something more meaningful, impactful. I had some vague idea of wanting to be a writer, to travel more, maybe to work for myself. I must admit that I didn’t really know what that entailed. Again, for me, it was a gradual wearing down. I’d done three different assignments. In the company where I was, we had two year assignments. I did a design role, conceptual, working on the marketing side. I did more of a commercial operations role and gradually specialised in digital. In a way, it was also such a fantastic role, ironically, that I’d had in digital, in that promotion, being so autonomous and independent. The idea to go back to a standard business development role didn’t really appeal to me. I thought, hey, I want to use these digital skills, the network, the leadership, the consulting role, essentially, that I had internally, I wanted to use that externally.
For me, again, I’m still surprised that I made the decision. It certainly wasn’t very much in line with my traditional choices of pretty much staying on quite a conventional linear path. I’m not a risk taker. I’ve never thought of myself as being entrepreneurial. And so that’s why I always say, if I can do it, you can certainly do it too.
I wanted to talk you through a few signs that it might be time for you to rethink your career. Maybe some of the things I have said have resonated with you, maybe there’s a disconnect between what you wanted to do and what you’re now doing. Maybe you just got to that point of, you know what? I’ve learned what I can hear, it’s time to move on. Let’s have a look. I’m going to, again, be looking down at my resource here, because I’ve got seven signs it’s time to rethink your career.
the first one, and I’ve talked about this a lot, I think, but one of my biggest values is lifelong learning. Yes, I’m a bit of a geek. I’m a good girl, always loved studying at school.
Well, not always, but certainly have a lifelong passion for reading, for now listening to podcasts, for doing courses, for personal development, and so on, professional development as well. If every single aspect of your role starts to feel routine, if you feel like if you’re too comfortable in a way, it’s very easy to get quite blase and to actually get quite negative and cynical.
I know, even in my initial role, when I first came into it, the previous brand team said, “Hey, you can’t do this because that’ll never get approved. And this isn’t possible,” and so on. I was full of energy and excitement. I said, “No, we can do all these amazing things.” Fast forward two years when I was handing over to the next brand team, and it was the same scenario but in reverse. I was telling him, “Oh no, that will never get approved and that’s never going to work.”
If you’re feeling cynical and if you’re not excited about new opportunities, if you’re not really being innovative, if you’re not open to new ideas, if you just feel like, “Hey, I can do this in my sleep,” you’ve stopped learning and growing. For me, having a value of wanting to learn and challenge myself, and I’m sure for many of you as well, that’s a bit of a warning sign. If there aren’t any more opportunities to go to sidestep into a different role, to join a different team, department, to get a promotion, whatever that might be, probably you need to be looking at some more drastic changes in order to get back onto that steep learning curve. That’s the first one you’ve stopped learning and growing.
The second one is the positives no longer outweigh the negatives.
Because, yes, there are a lot of positives with working in a full time job in a corporation, exciting, big name, big [inaudible 00:06:20], certainly pre-economic crisis. We had big parties, fantastic colleagues, lots of training, development, exciting projects, budgets, and so on. It could be that you love your colleagues. It could be that it’s a really great working culture, actually. Or perhaps you don’t love the people, but you do love the work you’re doing, vice versa. It could be any number of constellations of things.
If you’re finding that the good no longer outweighs the bad, again, that’s probably a tipping point that you’ve reached a bit of a trigger. Hang on a second, the benefits of having benefits and that salary and so on do not make up for the fact that my boss has being not very nice to me, that I’m not really, again, learning and growing, that the hours are too long, the commute, et cetera, et cetera. If you’re really finding the stress, the toxic work culture, the politics, whatever it is, is overweighting, outweighing, and overwhelming you perhaps as well, but really becoming heavier, becoming worse, and not made up for by all the positives, then again, that’s a warning sign. You’ve reached that pivot point where, hang on a second, something needs to change. Again, maybe you can change that within the setup. More likely you’re going to need to mix things up a bit.
Number three is everything is fine. You know what? Maybe things aren’t terrible. Maybe it’s not that you hate it. Maybe you haven’t burned out and maybe you don’t have a terrible boss. Things are just meh. Do you want to live your life with meh? I don’t think so.
Again, if you’re not being challenged. If you’re like, “Yeah, it’s okay,” you just get on with it, you more or less count the hours until the day is ended, you’re not feeling particularly inspired, you don’t dislike it but you just don’t love it either, you’re missing a passion, you’re missing a purpose, again, that is an opportunity. To be honest, this is the hardest one. Because if things are okay, if they’re fine, that is really going to take a lot of shaking up, a lot of courage, to get out of that zone of, oh, actually I’m in my groove and things are okay, to push yourself out of that.
If there’s a trigger, if there’s a redundancy, or a burnout, or promotion, or some aha, some massive insight, then it’s easier, ironically, to make this change. Whereas, if it is plodding along doing the same old thing, it’s going to be harder for you to pick yourself up and push yourself over the cliff as it were. And so, this is something to bear in mind.
Number four is you live for the weekends.
Now, during COVID, this year 2020, everything has been a little bit strange in terms of working from home. Maybe you’ve enjoyed some more flexible working hours. Maybe you’ve hated it. Who knows. However, the classic really accepted norm in society has been TGIF. On Friday, let’s go drink and have an amazing weekend. Sunday night blues. Monday morning, can’t believe it’s all starting again. We go through that cycle. We count the hours during the day until the end of the day. We count the days until the end of the week. We count the weeks until our next holiday. Again, without COVID, as that’s been a bit of a challenge this year.
If you’re living for the weekends, you know what? Some people are happy having an okay job, fine. It ticks the boxes. It pays the bills. And then they live for the weekends and evenings. They have hobbies, and friends, and all sorts of right. If that’s you, then again, that’s perfectly fine. However, if you, like me, if you share my belief that actually I want my work to be fulfilling in itself, I want to make a difference, I want it to be meaningful, then that requires a bit of a shift in your working life. You don’t want it to be that, you know what? And you spend so much time in your work that all those work hours are wasted almost, that you’re just, yeah, you’re just working. Work isn’t supposed to be fun anyway, is it? And then just count the hours to the weekend.
Number five, you’re getting dangerously close to burnout. Again, this is very tricky, because unfortunately most of us are going to be the alpha achiever person who pushes ourselves until we do burn out.
Then it’s too late in a way. Or we’re forced into a situation where we have to take the time off. We all think, and I’m there with you, we can put on more, and more, and more, and more and not have it collapse, because, hey, we’re really strong and we can do this. And you know what? So far I haven’t collapsed, so I can keep going. We just keep going until we don’t anymore. That’s really dangerous.
If you can be smart, and savvy, and self-aware enough to pick up on the sign. So I always talk about the tension in your shoulders. For me, I get migraines. You’re not sleeping. Maybe you get stomach upset. You’re getting a lot of colds. You’re emotionally little bit unstable, distraught. You’re negative. You’re cynical. You’re a bit withdrawn. Your family’s noticing the difference and so on. There are triggers. There are symptoms around burnout. Certainly, stress is a precursor to burnout, and ultimately more serious mental health issues. Being able to pick up on those signs, again, maybe you can find ways to work from home more often, take breaks, perhaps even go down to part time. Who knows, maybe you can make some lifestyle changes within your current setup. If not, if your whole career business setup, right now, lifestyle is not going to be sustainable for you, then again, you’ll need something a bit more dramatic. You’ll want to rethink how you’re living your life and your career as well.
Almost done with the seven signs. Number six is if your values are misaligned with the company.
It could be that you started a company when you’re very young, you are ambitious, and you wanted the money, and you thought this was incredible, and this massive company, and I’m consulting and I’m making a difference, and so on. That was really exciting at the time. Maybe now, or maybe because of a change of management, there might have been some shift, or unfortunately because the economic situation, maybe the values and the direction of the company no longer match yours, maybe your own values have shifted because you now have children, or you’ve had an awakening of some kind. You realise, hang on a second, there’s a disconnect here. That’s really tough. Your integrity really suffers to perhaps to pretend to be someone you’re not, to feel that your company isn’t living and breathing what you believe is the right thing, that can be really difficult. Again, that’s definitely a sign that you want to be changing company, if not perhaps more dramatically, again, industry, and a different way of living your life.
And then finally, if you have a burning desire to do something else, of course, if you have an amazing idea, for a business that you’ve had for years, and you know it’s going to be incredible, and you secretly really wish, and hope, and, yeah, know that it’s going to work out, but you’re still scared of taking that leap, that is a sign that, hey, why not try this now? You’ve had this for years. Maybe it’s something you’ve wanted to do since you were younger. Maybe it’s a new idea. Maybe you’ve seen someone else do it. You’ve had a taste of it, and you just think, “Oh my goodness, I would love to do this full time ideally.” Then again, that’s a more positive sign that it’s time to rethink your career. If you’ve really got this desire to be elsewhere, to be doing something else, that’s exciting and that’s something to grasp and grab onto, and at least try, try before it’s too late again.
You know what? Worst case scenario, it might not work out. You’ll either probably most likely find something else that you can do, also the nine to five. Or you might say, “Hey, actually the entrepreneurial life isn’t for me and this didn’t work out, and actually that’s okay. I’m happy to go back to a job.”
So those are some of the signs it’s time to rethink your career. Now, as ever, I’d love to hear from you, if there are other signs that have come up for you. If you yourself have quit, perhaps you can tell me why you left. Maybe it’s something that’s not on my list. You can reach me on any social media platform, of course, where I’m active, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To recap, the seven signs it’s time to rethink your career that I’ve gone through. Number one, you’ve stopped learning and growing. Number two, the positives no longer outweigh the negatives. Number three, everything is fine. Four, you live for the weekends. Five, you’re getting dangerously close to burnout. Six, your values are misaligned with the company’s. And seven, you have a burning desire to do something else.
Now, of course, this doesn’t mean that, if you tick all seven boxes, certainly, maybe it does, but if you tick one or two, it doesn’t mean, hey, I’m telling you now, so quit your job, throw in the towel, hand in your resignation, and take a massive leap of faith without having thought this through. What I’m saying is, what I’m suggesting is, maybe if some of this or all of this sounds familiar, it is time to start rethinking, to start this journey of exploring, of reflecting, of working out what you might want to do. I always say, get clear on the what and the why before you try to figure out the how. This doesn’t mean you have to do it right now. We tend to fall into that black and white thinking that either I’m in this old destroying corporate job, or I’m living my best life over here in Thailand. There are many, many, different scenarios in between and many steps along the way.
Again, hopefully this has given you a bit of a trigger. Maybe, and apologies if it’s uncomfortable for you, but maybe it’s the reminder you need, or the little wake up call, hang on, yeah, you’re right, it is time to do something different. I really hope you can take the time now to rethink, reimagine, what success could look like for you in a different constellation of your career and outside of that traditional conventional nine to five structure.
So, hope that was useful for you. You can also find these seven signs… In fact, I have a little resource that you can sign up to on the website. So onestepoutside.com/freebies is actually where you can get all my latest free PDFs, and there’s the seven signs on there. So onestepoutside.com/freebies. Hopefully, that was useful. Maybe a wake up call that you needed. Of course, if you know someone who needs this message as well, then do please share the episode. And look forward to seeing you back here next week. Bye for now.
If you’re ready to start to reimagine what success could look like for you, here are some of the ways in which Anna can support you:
Get private mentoring for your business – Partnering with a business coach can help you see those blind spots and get both external accountability and expert guidance to take your business to where you want it to be. www.onestepoutside.com/freeconsultation
Get private career coaching – Individual coaching is fully tailored to your specific goals and desires so we can create the programme that works best for you, with the support that you need to move forwards. www.onestepoutside.com/claritycall
Grab a copy of Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5 – After interviewing 50 people who have left the corporate 9 to 5 to forge their own path, Anna has collected their stories in a book that will inspire you with the possibilities that are out there and reassure you that you’re not alone in looking for an alternative. www.leavingthecorporate9to5.com
Join the One Step Outside the 9 to 5 Business Incubator – This is your roadmap to transitioning from a corporate job into setting up a meaningful business that will bring you more freedom, flexibility and fulfilment outside of the corporate 9 to 5. www.onestepoutside.com/9to5
Up-level with The Outsiders Business Accelerator – This is a mastermind for entrepreneurs, freelancers and small business owners who want to create a long-term sustainable brand and business. www.onestepoutside.com/accelerate