How do you know it’s time to leave your job?
I have a high tolerance for pain which can really come in handy sometimes but not so much if it goes on for a long time or is related to a situation I am dealing with over and over. A few times in my work life I have ignored an unsatisfying environment for a very long time and many of my clients come to me at the point they realize, after much suffering, they are settling for less than they want.
The paradox is that although it is fantastic to at last recognize that we are suffering in our job or business – that moment of the blinding light of awareness ‒ it does not mean we have to leave or make a huge change. It might mean that, but a deeper dive is warranted to discern what is going on and examine the nature of the discomfort we are experiencing. Often, getting happy right where we are is transformative, but it won’t always be possible.
I have found that using a framework put forward by the spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle is a very helpful tool in this deeper dive. Tolle says:
Wherever you are, be there totally. If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally. If you want to take responsibility for your life, you must choose one of those three options, and you must choose now. Then accept the consequences.
You might notice that he doesn’t include a fourth option: continue as you are, unhappy and unsatisfied. That is because he is pointing you toward taking full responsibility for your life – and staying in a stressful situation that is causing you unhappiness is a danger to your health, well-being, and relationships. And it is not treating yourself with respect and self-love. Additionally, it is not great for those around you at work or at home because we energetically influence each other even if we often forget that truth.
If you want to investigate these three options, I suggest you do it this way (a journal or notebook will come in handy here and connect in with your heart and your inner wisdom):
- Ask yourself: Is there something within my power to do that would change or shift this situation for the better? Possibilities might include talk with my boss and/or my colleagues and propose something that would work better for me (or in the case of a business re-design my structures) and see where that goes; identify skills I might acquire that would assist me to navigate this situation better or stand out more for my contributions; ask to be supervised by someone else if the challenge is working with your boss; brainstorm with a colleague about ways to change the situation. If none of these go anywhere or seem viable, go onto the next one.
- Ask yourself: since I do not see anything within my own power to do to change this situation, or I have tried and nothing is shifting, can I accept it exactly as it is? This is a deeply spiritual endeavor, where we release all resistance to the way things are, and to the way the people around us are, and we take responsibility for our own happiness within it. This can include expanding your ability to tune into gratitude and appreciation for what you do have in your work, and the love you have for the work you do. When you love and bless your colleagues, and your clients and customers, life is enhanced, and you become a beneficial presence without anything having to change. The reason Tolle is talking about removing all resistance to the ways things are here is that if you are unhappy and resistant and blaming outside circumstances for what you are experiencing, the stress is intolerable and can affect your health on every level. Strangely enough, when we can accept things and surrender to what is, we allow for things to shift in ways we hadn’t anticipated. If you can’t accept things as they are (which is a fine place to arrive at and I have been there myself), then go onto the next one.
- So here you are at the option of removing yourself from the situation. If you feel the need to do that, then embrace it and know that you are being led to the next steps in your path. However, I usually recommend people do not jump off a cliff (if it is harmful or toxic that is a different thing). Before leaving, you could embark on an exploration of other positions in your company or in your field to see if there were something that suits you better (If you like the work you do) and/or begin to work with a career coach to generate options that could suit who you are in this phase of your life and are more fulfilling. And, while you are doing that, work on blessing and loving everyone around you to the extent you can and accepting what you can accept. These skills always come in handy and will serve you in your job search because as Tolle also says: “If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place.”
And remember love can be a game-changer – when we can tune into what we love about the work we do and love the peeps involved, the situation often shifts in ways we couldn’t imagine or strategize for ourselves.