You’ve probably heard all the theories before: it’s best to leave a job after three years; never leave before two years; four years is the minimum if you don’t want to look flighty; only leave a job if you have another.
Now, hear this: none of the above answers matter. The timing for leaving a job is much more personal than an arbitrary time limit. It all depends on your internal clock. If you pay close enough attention to yourself, you’ll know exactly when it’s time to leave and when you can stay just a little while longer.
Below are four self-checks that will help you decide when the time may be right:
You’ve Learned All You Can
If you know all there is to know about what you’re doing and it doesn’t seem as if any new challenges or opportunities to learn will be added to your plate in the near future, this may be your time to make a move.
What you don’t want is to grow bored and complacent. Your work ethic and livelihood can deplete when there is a lack of stimulation.
You’ve Done All You Can
This is a bit different than learning all you can because doing all you can implies not that you’re unstimulated, but that your wings have grown too big for your job’s cage. If you’ve switched departments, taken on new responsibilities, stepped into a new position, worked with various colleagues, completed special projects, attended all of the events, and heard it all before, you’re done there. Move forward.
Your Eyes Are Set Elsewhere
Not only your eyes, but also your actions. If you’re working toward other goals that seem to be coming to fruition and you’re pretty certain that dedicating more time to these goals could mean success, you know what you need to do.
If you can swing juggling your current job with chasing your dreams, go for it. If your dreams are calling for you to give them your undivided attention, who are you not to answer?
The Spirit Moves You
There is no other surefire way to know when it’s time to leave your job that is more trustworthy than your gut. Regardless of what makes sense, what you’ve accomplished, how stimulated you are, or if you have a plan for what’s next, your gut will rarely, if ever, lead you astray when deciding whether to stay or go. Your real job is to listen to your gut, to trust where it’s guiding you, and to take heed. It won’t let you down.
No set amount of time, no rules, just you. What will you decide? Better yet, when?
Safon Floyd is the Digital Editor at Black Enterprise. Follow her @accordingtofon.