How to decide if it’s time to look for a new challenge

Dear Joan:
Lately, I have been feeling that I should be looking for a different job. I've been doing this job for three years and it's probably time to move on.

The problem is that I'm good at what I do and like the people I work with, but I'm starting to feel restless for another job. I'm torn in two because I can't make up my mind.

What can I do to help make this decision? How can I tell if I'm stuck? Should I stay where I am because I'm lucky to have a job I like?

There is no "should" about moving on to a different job. If your job provides enough satisfaction for you, no one but you can decide whether to aspire to something else or stay right where you are.

However, if you're restless, chances are you are beginning to get bored, and it may be time to look at your situation realistically.

Some of the following suggestions can be found in the books, "How to Hold on to Your Job," by S. Eric Wachtel, and "Paths to Power," by Natasha Josefowitz.

Here are some signals that may help you decide if it's time for a change:

1.      Your work is exhausting, yet unchallenging. If your day-to-day tasks never increase in complexity, you may be stuck in a job with no growth potential.

2.      You find yourself in a state of permanent boredom. Everyone has occasional boring days or weeks but if your boredom grinds on for months, it's a danger signal. It may be time for a change.

3.      You feel that your co-workers and your boss do not respect you (or vice versa) and that you are not a valued member of the team.

If your suggestions are repeatedly ignored, or not even solicited; you take issue with business decisions or actions taken by your boss, or you feel isolated from the rest of the team, consider a move.

4.      There are objective signs that your career is at a standstill. These signs, coupled with the subjective sense of boredom or stagnation, may reinforce your suspicion that you are in a dead end.

The most obvious objective signs of career advancement are raises, promotions and increased responsibility. If you aren't receiving approximately the same rewards as others of your age, background and job level, it may be time to look elsewhere.

5.      You do not believe in your company's products, policies, objectives, and your sense of values is violated.

In this case, you'd be wise to look outside your company. However, if the problem only seems to be in your present department, you may want to pursue jobs in other departments. It's often easier to move within a company than outside it.

6.      You are convinced that your boss has little or no real power or your department or group has no power. This may be important to you, particularly if your long-range career goals are set on a key, high-powered position.

In any event, a boss or group who is powerless to get needed resources or whose decisions are constantly overruled may be a source of frustration and be a reason to leave.

7.      You feel, paradoxically, that you are a victim of your own success.

You may be doing such outstanding work that your boss is holding on to you long past the time you should be promoted. If you suspect that your boss has no intention of developing you or raising your level of rank and responsibility, shop for a new boss.

8.      You find yourself trapped in an intolerable and un-fixable personality clash with your boss.

If you've sincerely tried, over a significant amount of time, to fix it - without success - you'd be wise to leave before you're asked to.

Many people change jobs every two to five years. It's natural to feel restless once the challenge of your job becomes routine.

Don't ignore the possibility of talking to your boss about your career development. Your supervisor may be more than willing to give you more responsibility and new tasks on your current job. 

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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