Should You Quit? Knowing When to Fold ‘Em

The U.S. Department of Labor recently reported that 53% of adults held the same job for at least five years in 2012–that’s up from 46% in 1996. But that doesn’t mean those workplace loyalists aren’t daydreaming about finding a new job.

In fact, 69% of workers in a recent JobVite survey said they were seeking a new job or were open to one. With hiring in the U.S. still on the slow side, it’s more likely those loyal employees are stuck–not that they’re bouncing out of bed each morning to get to a job they absolutely love.

One of the harder parts of navigating a career is knowing when to quit. The question is fraught with fears, caveats and the big unknown of whether the next job will offer the challenge, environment and incentives to make it worthwhile to leave a cozy, even if ho-hum, job. Of course, you could start with a pro-and-con list. Or, you could try BBC Capital‘s handy newPrag-O-Matic decision tree if you can’t decide whether it’s time to quit.

Yes, it’s a little tongue-in-cheek. But it’s also a good framework for thinking about whether it is time to move on, including some serious questions about what, exactly, has motivated you to even consider quitting. What is it that you need that you aren’t getting at your job? Can you change the things that make you sigh heavily when you step into the elevator at the office each morning?

If moving on isn’t an immediate option, there are ways to improve your situation when you feel stuck at work, writes Elizabeth Garone in her Career Coach column. Among them, the much-debated lateral move and targeted education.

One of the most difficult parts of feeling stuck at work–especially when boredom sets in–is resisting the urge to coast, to slack off and just get by. When professional boredom hits, if you just coast, “you could damage your self-esteem–which stems from your pride in your achievements on the job–and your reputation,” writes Chana Schoenberger in her Work Ethiccolumn on the topic.

It’s also okay to feel like you need a new challenge. It’s not uncommon for people to move from job-to-job to find new opportunities and experiences (and, yes, better pay). But, when you’re building a career, a big part of the answer to questions like and “What’s next for me” includes a genuine examination of what you want to achieve and how far you can still go toward that in your current role and company. In other words, think a bit before you quit.

What do you think? What cues and signs do you look for when trying to decide whether it’s time to quit?

Posted by:Jennifer MerrittJennifer Merritt
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