Do You Know “When” It’s Time to Go? Here Are 8 Tell-Tale Signs

How do you know “when?”

When I went away to college, my father told me that if you are thinking of getting married, college is the perfect place to find a wife. Since he had been right about everything else in life, I took his advice.

Six months in I saw a young lady across campus and I knew then that she was the one. Fast forward, two kids later, and I knew it was the best decision I had ever made.

On one of my previous jobs, employee morale had sunk to such a low point that it was almost unbearable to go to work. My dream job had morphed into an atmosphere that was unrecognizable. In both of these situations, I knew “when.”

Sunday evening blues

On Sunday evenings you become a blank sheet. Sometimes you sit listless with the TV staring back at you. Or maybe, you are on your computer and you just can’t think of anything else to Google or look at. You have lost interest and you begin to hate Sunday evening. You may or may not realize that the angst that is building up is the dread of the work day coming tomorrow.

The eagerness that once was there has vanished and Monday’s have taken on a new meaning — of dread, of sorrow, and of just plain old, not wanting to be there anymore.

Our bodies have a built in alarm system that alerts us to not only danger but sends a signal whether we want to accept it or not. That alarm system alerts us to a feeling that something is just not right. Ignore your alarm system — your instinct — at your own peril. If a little voice keeps telling you to move on, you should listen up.

This past week, I had conversation with two friends of mine who are both in this same space. They both talked about struggling with a workplace that made it almost unbearable to go on.

For years they had both labored and ignored the tell-tale signs around them. They each knew that they had been having these thoughts and feelings for some time. They both realized this week, that the proverbial WHEN was staring them in the face.

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Engagement levels have plummeted to such depths that I no longer read the reports and surveys anymore. I have become numb to these numbers. I know as well as everyone that there is a ticking time bomb in organization’s today that is like the level of a river slowly rising. It is only a matter of time before the flood begins.

At some point, in all of our careers, we will reach this point. A lot of us are there now, and know it. A lot of us are there now and do not know it. The question is, when do we know “when?”

8 signs that tell you when?

Here are some alarm signals that should serve as early warning systems that WHEN has arrived. To these, I speak from experience.

  • Sunday evening malaise — When you dread the Sunday evening that you use to enjoy, you are really dreading work on Monday with ever increasing angst.
  • Boredom — This is when the minutes at work seem like hours, and throughout the day, you keep checking your watch and counting down the hours before you walk out the door.
  • Good fit –– The ideal work scenario is when you are working with people that you share a similar core value. If you now notice that there is a different philosophical belief between you and the organization or your work mates, the place you are working just might not be a good fit for you.
  • Complaining about work — If you find that you can no longer leave the troubles at the workplace and find yourself bringing this negativity to your home space, you are headed into a no-man’s land that you need to get out of.
  • Your posse — Is your clique at work filled with discussions that are negative 24/7, and regardless what your organization does, you (and they) are still not satisfied?
  • Lack of sleep — Insomnia brought on by the dread you feel waiting for the alarm clock to sound and signal the new work day is like a flock of birds chirping outside your window. If you do manage to catch a few winks but are still restless and disturbed, it may just be time to go.
  • Your values are at odds with the corporate culture — No matter where the clash is occurring, a lack of alignment with the corporate culture will destroy your attitude at work.
  • High stress levels — Your stress level is so high at work that it is affecting your physical or mental health and your relationships with your friends and family. Watch for the signs of burnout, and if they can’t be cured, move on.

If you recognize a few of these within your soul, and you are man or woman enough to admit it, yes, it is time. You deserve to get out for your health as well as your well being.

I speak from experience, because I have been at this point a few times — and I always seemed to know “when.” Do you?

Hear Ron Thomas as he leads the first-ever TLNT Transform conference in Austin, TX this coming Feb. 26-28, 2012. Click here for more information on attending this event. 

Ron Thomas is Managing Director, Strategy Focused Group DWC LLC, based in Dubai. He is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute covering the MENA/Asia Pacific region.

He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf and former CHRO based in Riyadh. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as Global Human Capital Strategist, Master Human Capital Strategist, and Strategic Workforce Planner.

He's been cited by CIPD as one of the top 5 HR Thinkers in the Middle East. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia

Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living.

Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly's Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy.

His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Workforce Management and numerous international HR magazines covering Africa, India and the Middle East.


1 Comment on “Do You Know “When” It’s Time to Go? Here Are 8 Tell-Tale Signs

  1. Some other tell signs that it’s time to go:

    – Oversleeping (sleeping a lot is a sign of depression)
    – Always coming late to work
    – Becoming angry when someone gives you work, any work.
    – Thinking that once you finish the current project there’ll be no more work to do

    My advice is to leave while you can when you feel you’re dragging yourself to work, you won’t do your company any good by showing up every day, and more importantly, you will only harm yourself and your career if you continue working there.

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