Tell me if this sounds familiar. It's 7 p.m. on a Sunday night. You just finished dinner and are starting to settle down for the evening. Normally, this would be a relaxing time. Maybe you take the time to reflect on the past week, or perhaps plan your ambitious goals for the coming days.
But this night is somehow different. You suddenly become filled with a certain something. It’s a malaise that doesn’t let you do much more than click the remote control. You can't exactly put your finger on what it is. Let’s call it the Sunday Night Blues.
Rather than relax, you actually begin to get worked up, even annoyed. It comes in waves. Then you realize you are grinding your teeth, dreading the predictability of tomorrow’s work day. It might be time to look for a new job.
At some point, all of us will reach this crossroads. Maybe you're there now. If you check off more than three items from the list below, it’s likely time to start actively looking for a better work arrangement.
Nightmares about work. There’s nothing worse than dreaming about work. It’s like spending hours at the office--without getting paid. The worst part is that employment nightmares can throw off your work-life balance, making you feel as if you have not had a healthy amount of time away from the office. Sometimes the dreams are so realistic, you wake up feeling like you’ve worked a 24-hour shift. These reflections of your subconscious might be sending you a message: Find a new job!
Boredom/predictability. When the minutes feel like hours, it’s time to move on. Boredom is a “gateway problem” to a host of ugly things. While the feeling might appear harmless, sustained periods of boredom can lead to a plethora of psychological and physical issues, including anxiety and depression. If you know everything your coworkers will do--before they do it--it’s time to go. Ennui is more than a mild irritant, it might be a telltale sign that a new job is needed.
Try, try, try. If you have spent the past year employing all of the tactics you’ve read on career advice blogs and in employment books, but keep winding up back in the same dark place, it’s time to find a new job. Sometimes advice can be summed up in two letters: G-O!
Your Gut. Oftentimes, our minds and hearts will know the answer to a question. But rather than accept that, we ask anyone who will listen. And while these folks will do their best to deliver solid answers, the answer to seek new employment lies within. Ignore your instinct at your own peril. If a little voice keeps telling you to move on, you should listen up.
Management issues. If the people running the show appear confused, odds are, they are confused--and that doesn’t bode well for employees. Personnel can change, but company culture is much less likely to evolve quickly. Working amongst chaos is a major stressor, one that often outweighs a job’s perks. If your company doesn’t have their stuff together, you need to get your stuff together and leave.
Misaligned values. The ideal work scenario has you working for, and alongside, people who share a similar core value system with you. If the head honchos have different philosophical beliefs than you (i.e., let’s not recycle paper or let’s stay two hours late every night), the organization might not be a good fit for you.
Work is work. Every job should come with some fun. If the good times have been completely drained from your 9-to-5, you need to move on. Even employees conducting the most macabre jobs are able to share some laughs. If you find yourself working at Sourpuss Central, start sending out resumes and regain your inner child. Even a fake smile has a value!
Life change. As you collect your regular paychecks, life changes around you. Regularly evaluate your priorities. If you are planning to start a family or considering a cross-country move, it might be time to analyze how your current job stacks up against your new needs and wants. There’s no shame in changing, but it is a shame to not recognize that a change is needed.
Checked out. Helplessness and hopelessness have no place in positive lives. If work has made you question your own worth or value as an employee, you need to spruce up that resume.
Change in appearance. From weight gain or loss to bags under the eyes, if you've thrown in the towel with regards to your looks, or you find yourself either unable to eat or using food to pacify your angst, it may be time to punch up that resume. Appearance and confidence go hand-in-hand. Take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself if you like what you see.
Lack of sleep. Bad dreams are one thing, but insomnia brought on by the dread you feel waiting for the alarm clock to sound, is another. If you manage to catch a few winks, and they are restless and disturbed, take a hard look at your lifestyle. Is it the foods you are eating? A lack of exercise? Or is it your job?
Complaining about work. Some people just can't leave their troubles at the office. They are defined by their jobs. If you suddenly find yourself consumed by work and unable to shake the negative attitude you have toward it, you may be heading down a dead-end path. In many cases, this behavior starts with a small work clique. Each member works the other ones up on how horrible everything job-related is. Ironically, you soon end up feeling isolated and miserable. Nothing productive comes out of chronic complaining, so get your butt in gear and put your money where your mouth is.
Job-search addiction. You start by checking once a day, then twice a day, before you know it, you're practically living on job boards. The worst part is, you’re giving serious consideration to jobs that are unrelated to your skillset and pay substantially less than what your skills are worth. Check please!
Internet-search balance shift. Sure, most of us surf the Web at some point during our workday. But if you find that you are spending more and more time Web window shopping or treating fantasy football like it was reality football, you might as well start clearing out your desk. Give yourself this one-question quiz: Are you begging to be caught?
Your boss is cruel. Yelling. Manipulative games. Arrogance. If dealing with your boss is a royal pain and your company does not have the proper communication channels set up for you to address the issue, it might be time to move on. A bad boss might be tolerable, but a sadistic boss is unacceptable.
Your company doesn’t foster employee growth. Self motivation is exhausting. It’s a big plus to have your employer in your corner, helping you learn and grow as an employee. From tuition reimbursement to management mentoring programs, if your employer is not invested in you, you can’t expect to grow.
We want your additions to this list. What signs do you think are important to look for that indicate it’s time to find a new job?
Andrew G. Rosen is the founder and editor of Jobacle.com, a career advice blog. He is also the author of How to Quit Your Job and an established freelance blogger who is available for hire. Follow him on Twitter (@jobacle) or connect on LinkedIn.