Is it time to move on? Here are a few questions to ask yourself.

Share story

Persistence is an important career (and life) tool. Sometimes the difference between “there” and “almost there” is that one extra push, that one last mile.

But it’s also important to know when to give up. Not every path you go down is the right one. Not every job is a good fit. If you suspect this is your situation, but still aren’t quite sure, try asking yourself these questions:

Am I tired all the time? Chronic exhaustion is a clue that there’s something wrong with your life. The same goes for frequent unexplained illnesses and injuries. Your body may be trying to tell you something your mind hasn’t caught onto yet. You might also ask others if they see a change in you.

Do I avoid talking about my job? Imagine you’re at a party and someone you’ve just met asks, “So what do you do?” Is your first reaction a cringe? Are you embarrassed — or even ashamed — to name your career, employer or position? You may be looking at a major red flag that your job, or maybe just this specific job in a field that would otherwise be great, is not in line with your goals, values or worldview.

When was the last time I felt happy at work? Every job has its downsides, and you don’t leave one just because you’ve hit a few bumps in the road. But if it has been a while since you’ve laughed at work, learned anything new or felt that your ideas and contributions were valued, then you may indeed have reached a dead end.

Knowing when and if it’s time to leave a job can sometimes be a no-brainer. If your company is going out of business, or you are being harassed or bullied on the job, or your health (physical or mental) is in imminent danger, then, yes, you know what you have to do.

But too often it’s not so crystal clear. It’s easy to get stuck in a comfortable-seeming rut, especially if the money is OK. If you’re reading this, however, maybe that’s a sign it’s time to do some serious soul-searching.

We spend a huge proportion of our lives working or at work. It should be the right work.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use and of the novel “The Paris Effect.” Email her at