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How to Know When It's Time to Get a New Job

Written by: Nicky Espinosa, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Do you ever wonder how many people are working in jobs they hate? This is the kind stuff that rattles around in my head. How many people are out there, right now, trudging through their day? How many have been checking the clock every five minutes? How many are gritting their teeth through meetings with an “I need the paycheck” mantra repeating under their breath?

I can see it written on your face. That distant stare in your eyes. That crazy look that warns everyone that it’s been a bad day.

It’s just the battle-worn look of a professional trying to make it all work.

I get it…I rocked that look for a few years.

And those were some of the worst years of my life.

Years when I felt stuck in a job that was crushing my soul every damn day.

I didn’t leave, because I didn’t feel like that was a reasonable option.

I had a “good” job with a decent paycheck.

And yet this ugly voice would whisper in my ear…

Just suck it up and do the job.

Work is not supposed to be fun.

It doesn’t matter if you like it, nobody likes their job.

So I stayed for almost five years. The worst five years of my entire life. Not just my career…My life! During those five years my marriage turned sour, my kids didn’t get the best of me, I numbed with my nightly wine. I spent my free time sleeping or bitching. I was miserable.

What I know now is that I don’t do well under someone’s thumb. I need autonomy to do my best work. I need variety. I need new, complex problems to solve. I need to do big things that other people think are impossible. I want to feel a little magic in my life.

So when my job wasn’t providing any of that, it was sucking the life out of me.

I should have made a change much earlier than I did. I could have saved myself a lot of heartache. I could have been so much better for my family. I could have…

But I didn’t. Looking back I wondered why I didn’t. Why did I let it go on for so long?

Here’s what I learned that might help you know when it’s time to leave your job.

Enjoying your work is not a pipedream.

It’s true that not everything about your job will be roses and sunshine. But it’s also true that you deserve to do work that you like to do. And when you do that kind of work you’ll be a happier, more productive person. You spend a lot of your life at work, make it work for you. A good goal is to shoot for a 70/30 balance. Seventy percent of your work should feed your energy. If it’s not, take another look.

Just one person can ruin the job for you.

It doesn’t really matter if the work is great, if your boss is an abusive jerk. Walk away from abusers every single time. Either report that jerk and make sure your company removes them or find another job. There’s no good reason to suffer in these situations. They only hurt you in the long run. The long lasting effects of this kind of workplace trauma are still being discovered, but I can tell you from personal experience that it takes years to heal from some of this stuff. Walk away.

Beware your comfort zone becomes your source of pain.

Some people stay in jobs far longer than they should because they are so afraid of what could happen if they leave. This job may not be perfect, but they know all its ugly parts. They understand all the players and they feel comfortable in its familiarity. So they get stuck going through the motions. It seems like the work should be easier since it’s familiar, but it sucks the energy away from you. This is what I call the ho-hums. You’re stuck in the ho-hums because that’s more comfortable than taking a risk on something new. You are letting fear of the future prevent you from creating the future you want. Take the risk. Make the jump. Tackle the fear. You’ll thank me for it!

Rest first, then decide.

If you are at or approaching burnout, you need to deal with the burnout before you make decisions. You’re maxed out. You’re too emotional to make a decision in this state. This is the time to take a long vacation, sabbatical or even a leave of absence to focus on you. Use this time to reset. Create some space for yourself to think. SLEEP first, then think. Re-evaluate what you want for your future. Reassess what you have to offer and decide what you want to do next.

Know what makes you special.

If you’re really lost about what you should be doing, reflect on not only what you bring to the table, but what you really WANT to spend your career doing. We can get caught in a trap of what others want us to do. Your leaders will want you to do the things that they hired you to do. They will give accolades for the talents that they need. That doesn’t mean these are your best things. What if you are meant to do something else, but you have not yet shown people how amazing you are at that? Take some time to reflect on what you do better than anyone else. Look for opportunities to build a career on your genius talents.

Life is way too short to spend it in a job you hate (or even dislike). We are conditioned to believe that work has to equal suffering. We are told if we just work hard, we will be successful. But that doesn’t pan out for a lot of people. So why not make all those years of working mean something? Why not build a life you get to enjoy now instead of trudging through work hoping to enjoy life in retirement?

Tomorrow morning, when you pull yourself out of bed to go to work, take a long look in your bathroom mirror. Do you like what you see? Are you happy? Or are you exhausted, overworked, and overwhelmed trudging to work you don’t love?

Your future is up to you. The only limits we have are the ones we place on ourselves.

Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


Nicky Espinosa, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Nicky Espinosa is a leadership expert and executive coach specializing in supporting women executives to reach their full potential. She is a former healthcare executive, author and professional speaker with 20+ years of senior leadership experience. She is on a mission to close the gender gap in the C-suite by empowering women to confidently level the playing field.



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