Work: Necessity or Choice?
One of the most challenging decisions in one’s career is deciding when to leave a job. A person’s livelihood, whether it be their job or their own business, is vital to their well being.
For most people, working is a necessity and a means to an income. Obviously without an income from either work or investments, one cannot take care of their basic needs. The exceptions to that would be those who are dependent on others for income.
Even those who are dependent on others must manage relationships with their providers by exhibiting the same commitment and intentionality of a job or they risk losing their financial support.
It would stand to reason that those with financial backing and support would be less beholden to a job. That, perhaps they would be less fearful of leaving. However, in my experience that is not the case. I have witnessed those with little or no savings – who live paycheck to paycheck – be comfortable walking away from “guaranteed income” if they are unhappy. I have also witnessed those with financial backing cling to jobs they hate.
Family of Origin
It seems to me that our fear of leaving and/or our loyalty about staying is informed by what we learned from our families of origin.
- What did we learn about safety?
- What did we learn about having enough?
- What did we learn about money?
- What did we learn about wealth?
- What did we learn about loyalty?
- What did we learn about quitting?
- What did we learn about risk?
- What did we learn about adventure?
- What value do we place on the approval of others?
- How much identity do we place in our career, job or employment?
- How much does faith play a role in our big decisions?
- How comfortable are we with self reliance?
- How comfortable or uncomfortable are we with doing something different than what we imagined?
When to Leave a Position/Job
- Often leaving a job is warranted if you have little or no opportunity to learn or grow in the position. Sometimes we come to the end of our learning road at a place and our growth is simply found elsewhere.
- If a job does not provide enough income and you have exhausted your willingness to work 2 or 3 jobs to make ends meet…it is time for a big change. In those cases, it may require a re-imagining of one’s career.
- When the environment is toxic and you have made diligent effort to advocate for yourself and effect change in a system to no avail, it is time to go.
- Another time to leave is when a place is clearly falling apart. This can be due to poor leadership, lack of funding, ethical or legal reasons etc…
When to Stay in a Position/Job
- If you are still learning and the environment and people support your growth and development…it likely a good place to stay.
- When both the income and the work itself seem well matched based on your cost/expenses for being in the career.
- It’s good to stay in positions where you feel valued and perhaps renegotiate your opportunities, work schedule or compensation if for some reason you have a change in lifestyle (had a child, caring for family member, your own illness, etc…)
- It may good to stay when your main reason for leaving is fear that you are not capable or not good enough. Staying in a position/job because it is challenging is one of the best reasons to be there…as long as you also pursue what you need in order to improve your performance.
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