How to Be SURE It’s Time to Go
Last Monday I was sure I was going to feel a little weird. It was my first day no longer working at Cosmo, my first day no longer running the largest women’s magazine in the world, and even though I’d made the choice to leave, I suspected it might be a little difficult for me, that I might even have a few second thoughts about having decided to toss in the towel. I also wondered how it might feel to no longer be a Person of Status in the building. I’d been given another office in the Hearst Tower on a floor with mostly men (and not a pair of short shorts or platform shoes in sight!), so I’d still be bumping into many old colleagues.
Well, things did get off to a slightly rocky start. On my first day AC (After Cosmo), I accidentally took the elevator to my old floor. Once I realized my mistake, I almost dove back toward the elevator, fearful a security siren would go off.
But then things turned blissful. My new office had been outfitted over the weekend, and I loved it. It’s a smaller, more intimate space, which tends to work better for me, and the view from the window is so serene. Throughout the week there wasn’t a single moment of regret or sadness. I didn’t even mind the loss of status. When I was getting coffee on the floor one day, the guy next to me asked me “What magazine do you work for?” “None,” I told him without flinching. “I’m just a consultant.” He looked baffled, curious perhaps why a consultant would have a zebra-print chair in her office and a Botero print of a nude woman eating oranges.
Why, I asked myself, wasn’t I experiencing even a twinge of regret? But I already knew the answer. I’d loved my Cosmo years but by the end I was more than ready for a change. I had decided to live a more entrepreneurial life. And now it felt really good.
But how can you tell for certain you really want to make a big move? How can you be sure you’re not simply in the headlock of a bad week or month? Several colleagues have asked me variations on that question lately.
Well, for starters, if you’re even asking yourself the question—“Is it time for me to go?”–chances are good that it is. Other signs: you’re feeling bored, unchallenged, listless. When you get email alerts for meetings, you hear yourself saying, “Oh, please, no.” For me the revelation came when I found myself feeling grouchy at work, something I’d rarely felt in the past. I had less patience than I’d had before.
On the flip side, absolutely loving your job can be an early warning signal. It doesn’t mean you should leave that second but it’s a sign you’re in pre-change days. Because you’re starting to get comfy, lacking challenges and risks. It doesn’t mean you have to change your job necessarily, but you do need to shake it up, take on a new project.
The key is to act. Because if you wait until you hate your job, you’ll have zero energy. Think about what could be next. Imagine a new adventure. And network, like hell, telling yourself you’ll use each conversation to listen and potentially come away with an idea. I’ve learned that contact + curiosity = opportunity. And sometimes even fabulous opportunity.