#RealWorkTalk: Knowing When to Move On
Aug 19, 2015
I have worked at a political consulting since 2012. I worked as a paid election assistant and moved up to VP. While I feel fortunate to have this position, I have come to terms with the fact that I am beyond burnt out. Despite [a desire to move on from politics], I signed on for another cycle based on our current client list (some big races for 2016).
My question is twofold: 1) How do you know when it’s time to leave a position? 2) Is it ever appropriate to leave a political position mid-cycle?
I am concerned that if I leave before 2016, I will burn bridges at my firm. Yet I have tentatively started my job search, and if the right position came along, I would leave. Any insight you could offer would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks -Burnt Out
Like people, careers evolve. What was once a perfect job can become constricting over time. Dreams change. Plans change. Don’t shackle your 30-year-old self to a job because you loved it at 25.
A career isn’t just one thing, it’s many things. In the last 10 years, I’ve been a pr account assistant, a hill staffer, a lobbyist, a blogger, and a law student. The path wasn’t linear but as I’ve grown and changed, so have my professional goals.
Moving on is a natural part of developing as a woman and as a professional. Don’t fight it, embrace it.
When do you know it’s time to leave? Both The Muse and Forbes offer good advice on how to know when it’s time to move on. For me, I know it’s time to leave when I no longer looked forward to going to work and the days feel repetitive. Loss of passion and motivation is my biggest indicator that it’s time to find something new.
If you’re a person isn’t passionate about your work (and that’s okay, plenty of people want a job, not a calling), then look to other factors. Do you find yourself complaining more? Is it fulfilling your financial needs? Can you grow within the company or are you stagnating? Are you appreciated?
Sometimes knowing it’s time to leave is as simple as the hopeful feeling you get when you think about moving on. If your heart is nagging at you to find something new, I encourage you to explore those feelings and find their source. Perhaps you need a change of pace.
Is It Ever Appropriate to Leave Mid-Cycle? For those who work outside of politics, let me preface this with an explanation. In politics, the two-year cycle is like the moon and sun. If you take a job at the beginning of the cycle, many employers consider you duty bound to see it through. But sometimes leaving is necessary.
If you’re extremely burnt out, it’s likely to get worse, not better as the cycle progresses. Burn out breeds resentment, animosity, mediocrity, and a host of unsavory things if left unchecked. And there are very few people who can control burn out for a full calendar year. So it may be in everyone’s best interest to walk away now.
The way I see it you have two choices: 1) stay and plan, 0r 2) look aggressively with a deadline.
1) Set up an 18 month plan. Sort out how you’re going to complete your responsibilities, build a financial nest egg, and network to find the job that’s right for you. Put out some unofficial feelers (it’s perfectly normal to talk about post-election day plans), and drop a few notes of inquiry to places you might want to move to.
This way you can cleanly transition out of your current job as soon as the confetti falls on election day. Sometimes light at the end of the tunnel is all you need to combat burn out.
2) We all know that leaving in September 2015 is different than leaving in January 2016. One is inconvenient, one is downright cruel. So send out a few resumes, take a few interviews, but set a deadline for yourself. Say, “I’m going to actively look for work until October 1. If I don’t find anything, I’m going to regroup after the election.”
This way, you give yourself the opportunity to find something new and explore your options. If a transition can be made before the holidays, you may be in good shape. If it can’t, staying is probably your best option.
If you think this burnt out feeling is permanent, then you need to start looking for the exit. It’s not fair to anyone to be a martyr. But either leave soon or make a longer term plan, because there will come a point when leaving mid-cycle will leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouths.