Is it time you walked away?
I lied to my friend last week.
I didn’t mean to. It just happened. I promise!
I didn’t even notice at the time. It wasn’t until I later reflected on the conversation that I realized what I had done.
Let’s call my friend Sarah. It’s not their name, but as I’m already on a streak of falsehoods, I’ll continue. What’s the point of writing if you can’t be a little creative with the details every once in a while?!
Sarah needed some advice. She’s stuck in a job she hates. She doesn’t feel like she’s getting the respect she deserves. Her superiors aren’t fulfilling their promises. The office is a place of constant bickering amongst staff and she’s always caught in the middle.
So she asked me
“Should I quit?…”
To which I replied
I told her it was worth sticking around for a little longer. This would help boost her cv, and gain experience, giving her a leg up for her next career move. Six to eight more months or so. After all, she’s still at the beginning of her career in the design industry.
I considered my response the mature thing to say.
She thanked me, and we parted ways. Everyone was happy.
Well done Ian, excellent mentoring. A pat on the back and a gold star. Don’t mind if I do, thank you very much.
Cycling home that evening, I replayed my own career in my head. I thought of all the jobs I had quit. To be quite honest, there’s been a few. I’ve worked in some fantastic places, with inspiring people. I’ve also worked in some places I thought were trash.
Each time I felt a company or role wasn’t right for me, I quit. I left as soon as I found something better aligned with my values. It didn’t matter if I was six weeks or six months into the job.
If it didn’t feel right, I didn’t stay.
Every time, the next role felt 10 times better.
As humans, we spend a huge part of our lives at work. I, for one, want that time to be well spent. It’s fulfilling watching the companies I work for grow, and in return, I hope to develop myself. But if I’m not the right person for the job, it’s better for everyone if I walk away and let them find the one who is.
Now, to be clear, I’m not saying that if you had one bad day you should throw in the towel and walk out the door. Even the best jobs have bad moments. Some days you have to do unfulfilling work. Deal with boring projects, or bad clients (…if there is such a thing…). That’s life. But remember to look at the big picture. How do you feel each week? Or each month?
When the bad days are most of the days, it’s time to move on.
It’s about figuring out the ROI. What are you putting into this role, and what are you getting out? Whether it’s financial, professional, or personal growth. Would you be better off somewhere else?
If the answer is yes, then what are you waiting for?
You are responsible for designing your career.
I can’t tell you that what worked for me will work for you. This is your journey. You know you want. If you don’t, take some time to figure it out. You’re in charge of creating the opportunities that will get you where you want to go. You, and only you. So take the leap.
So, Sarah, I’m sorry I lied.
I know you’ll figure out what’s right for you.
I hope I can give you more honest advice next time.
Ian is a freelance product designer based in Vancouver, Canada.
He works with clients around the world, from Europe to America, because — thanks to the web — he doesn’t need to be sitting next to the people he works with.
👏 If you’d like to show support for his writing, just tap the clap button. 👏
He’s also like to thank the people who inspire his writing. He couldn’t do it without them. 🙏
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