The economy is approaching full employment! You no longer have to remain in that less-than-great job relationship.

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When people say breaking up is hard to do, they’re right. Ending a relationship is painful — for you, for them, for others who have grown accustomed to or rely on your status quo.

But chances are good that at least once in your career you’ll have to cut the cord. Here are five signs to look for:

The thrill is gone. A job that no longer challenges you is quickly going to start feeling like a waste of your time. Ask yourself when you last learned something new, or felt excited about going to work. If it’s been too long, if you feel tired all the time, and if you feel you’re giving more than you’re getting, it may be time to change jobs, or even your whole career.

You’ve grown apart. At first you were so happy together. You liked everything (or most things) about your work, your boss and your field. You shared the same dreams. But now you’ve changed, or the job/employer/field has changed. It doesn’t matter which. When you want significantly different things out of life, it’s time to move on.

You’re being betrayed. A company, or entire industry, that’s in decline or otherwise in trouble is a bad bet for a long-term career relationship. Stay current on trends in your field, especially innovations that may contribute to making your job obsolete. Be ready to jump ship before it’s too late.

You’re being abused. Is your job stressing you out or even making you physically ill? This is not a relationship you want to stay in. The same goes for work situations where your ideas are constantly being ignored or disregarded, your skills are not being used, you’re being held back or you’re being bullied or harassed.

You’ve found something new. Maybe you weren’t even looking, but now a new exciting opportunity is beckoning, one you know you’d hate yourself for passing up. Or perhaps your life is transforming in some other major way (marriage, relocation, evolving family commitments). Life goes on. Holding onto the past is never the answer.

Leaving our comfort zone is always scary, but take heart. All relationships end sooner or later. Often, the wisest and kindest thing you can do is to make a clean break.

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