dr rebel time to leave

dr rebel: how do i know when it's time to leave?

this is a topic close to my heart. i left my successful corporate career after 16 years. making that choice was so hard. i had given so much in all these years – lots of blood, sweat, and tears. and i feared the unknown. after 16 years, you sort of know what to expect. what on earth would happen if i jumped ship? would i survive? it was the best decision i’ve ever made in my life.

i meet many people who feel stuck and don’t know whether it’s better to stay or leave. deciding to quit and leaving an organisation can be quite tough, especially for rebels. most of them are so passionate and go all in, that they have become emotionally (too) attached to the organisation. leaving feels like ending a relationship. but sometimes, it’s the only way forward.

here are some insights from fellow rebel carmen medina (‘Rebels at Work’) plus some of my own experiences on when it’s time to say goodbye:

dr rebel know when its time to leave

ten signs that it’s time to leave:

#1: you’ve burned too many bridges. when you have had too many conflicts, people don’t want to collaborate with you and start avoiding you. If you’ve had nasty encounters with people higher up in the organisation, they will never hire you for a role in their teams. and thus, your effectiveness (and work pleasure!) has dropped to almost zero 

#2: no one at work supports you anymore. when you started to work for the organisation, you had a bunch of good friends at work that you could always go to for advice and support. however, the number of supporters has decreased over time and you’re now in a position where it starts to feel lonely

#3: your buddies have already jumped ship. when fellow rebels leave, it is a sign that the work culture is not open for entrepreneurial changemakers. furthermore, most likely these people are your friends who make your work fun and support you when the going gets tough. when that disappears, it gets (too) lonely.

#4: your career stalls. there are no opportunities to grow, and the organisation can not offer or create a new role for you. your development stalls, while you know you have so much more to give.

#5: you are bored out of your mind. most rebels have some side projects they work on to make the organisation better. these are often complex, tough initiatives, e.g. because they don’t have the hierarchical power to get it done or collaboration between many different departments is required. but rebels love that challenge. as long as their ‘normal’ job is going well, most managers tolerate these side projects. however, when rebels are not allowed to work on these things anymore, boredom kicks in. organisations that don’t value the extra mile you go are not worth staying.

#6: you are exhausted. you feel tired and lack the energy to do even the things you love. your co-workers notice that your spark has disappeared. you know the root cause lies in not being seen and respected by your co-workers and manager, even though you’ve tried everything to change things for the better. 

#7: the work culture doesn’t align with your values. rebels have a strong moral compass, and their urge to speak up is so much stronger than their will to fit in. they break the rules not because they want to, but because they feel they have to. when this type of behaviour is not tolerated or even punished, you know it’s time to go (before you become a cynic).

#8: you have become way too cynic. there is a point of no return. you have become so tired and energy-drained, that your jokes shifted to irony, irony became sarcasm, and sarcasm turned into cynism. your work pleasure has vanished, fewer and fewer co-workers want to talk to you, and too much damage has been done.

#9: you get an offer you can’t refuse. when another organisation recognises your talents and makes you a fantastic offer, don’t let the feeling of guilt for leaving the organisation you love so much dominate and go for it. appreciate the great time you’ve had, and move on.

#10: it cannot get any better than this. you managed to get a role that suits you perfectly. one that you cannot believe is happening, and you know that it’s pretty unlikely you’ll get a role like that again. make the best out of the role you’re in while you search for something better somewhere else. it’s true that you can better quit when you are at a high than when you’re at a low (i know, i have been there)

here’s some fun inspiration on how to quit with a bang 😂

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