Every once in a while, I think about how to know when it’s time to move on professionally. This could mean changing industries, changing employers, or both. These thoughts do not include salary, benefits, or company culture. They are strictly based on what you are doing.
First, you need to understand my thoughts on professional evolution. Specifically, for me anyhow, what it takes to go from being inept to being adept at some specific thing; the collective of these things being attributes of your profession. At a high level, it looks something like this:
inept -> encounter issue -> learn from issue -> proficient -> encounter same issue -> learn more from same issue -> adept
Rinse and repeat this process for everything you do. It could take years to go from one end to the other; it could take decades. You may get caught in any stage until you have an epiphany (or a bunch of epiphanies), or you may never encounter the next stage at all.
With this process in mind, I think we need to ask ourselves these questions:
- Do I want to move to the next stage?
- Am I trying to move to the next stage?
- Do I have the ability to move to the next stage.
If you answer no to 1 or 2, it’s time to move on, you’re wasting your time. If you answer no to number 3, you need to realistically think about what you are doing, and whether or not it’s worth continuing. Maybe you’ve determined that you don’t want to (try to) move to the next stage because it’s too difficult.
Obviously the action of moving on isn’t as easy as simply stating you’re going to do it. But if you know you’re doing something that you’ll never get better at, whether by choice or because you just can’t, why would you want continue?