new job pinAt this point, you probably have a greater chance of winning the lottery than you do staying at your current job for the rest of your life.  The dynamic nature of the industrialized world just doesn’t allow for that anymore.  A recent study by the Department of Labor found that people held an average of almost twelve jobs in their lifetimes between 18-48.   And that’s for the baby boomer generation. Millenials tend to leave their jobs every three years on average.  At least a few of those are bound to be unpleasant experiences at best.

Given how easy it is to be content in a difficult situation and the great fear of the unknown, many people stay in jobs well past their pull date.  Below are a few key points to look for to recognize when enough is enough.

When You Dread Going to Work

Is your snooze button worn down to the nub?  If that strong sense of fear and foreboding returns every Sunday night, perhaps you should start updating your LinkedIn profile and resume.  No amount of 401K matching is worth walking around with a cloud of misery overhead.  Maybe it’s a personality conflict with a co-worker or the feeling of being undervalued and underpaid.  Whatever the reason, you shouldn’t spend a third of your waking hours feeling disengaged or, worse, enraged.

When Everyone Else’s Job Seems More Fascinating Than Yours

Start paying attention to those feelings of jealousy that creep up when you read about successful people or hear about your friends’ professional accomplishments. If it is starting to seem as though everyone has found her ideal career but you, it’s time to consider a shift. Of course, no one expects to be fascinated by a job forever. But, pay special attention if the one job that sounds even less appealing than yours is the one held by your boss.

When It Affects Other Aspects Of Your Life

A negative job situation can become truly destructive once it starts impacting your health and your emotional state. Are you struggling to fall asleep at night?  Do you feel a pounding headache the minute you walk into work? These symptoms can be your body’s way of warning you of a breakdown. Feeling unhappy and frustrated, especially for so many hours a day, can be hazardous over time.  The effects can be particularly dangerous if dissatisfied co-workers surround you and you spend much of the day complaining, which creates a toxic environment.

When It’s More of a Job Than a Career

This is not necessarily a bad thing.  There are many points in life when it makes sense to lean out and coast from paycheck to paycheck.  The real conflict comes once you want to be growing professionally and you’re not.  Do some reflection and think about where you want to be in five years, in ten, in twenty. Write your answers down to determine if your current role is a good foundation for that path. If not, then it’s probably time to consider the right next step.

When You Want Something Else

Every quarter or so you should perform a self-assessment to evaluate if you are getting and giving all you can in this role. If your position doesn’t offer room for advancement, edifying projects, or the flexibility you need to meet personal demands, then it is holding you back. After you’ve tried speaking with your supervisor, changing your assignments, feng shui-ing your office and things still aren’t improving, it’s time to reach out to your network and gear up for a search

Don’t wait for the stars to align and everything to be perfect to make your transition or you will be waiting forever. The best time to look for a new job is when you have one and the best time to leave a job is when you have a new one.