Before making the leap, be sure to monitor the behavior of yourself and your colleagues for telltale signs about whether it's time to leave your job.

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While finding a new job can be difficult, it can be equally tough, if not harder, to realize when it’s time to move on. Even if you’ve risen as high as you’ll ever go at a dead-end job, the salary or the routine or the camaraderie with co-workers can keep you there much longer than you need, just out of sheer momentum.

However, in today’s improving economy, especially in the boom-times that are taking place in some of Seattle’s technology industries, you don’t have to wait for external circumstances to decide your fate. With a little soul searching, you can often find telltale signs that it’s time to make a conscious effort to change your course. Here are a few behaviors to notice that may help you make your decision to stay or go.

Listen to yourself. Every office involves a little griping. Complaining about a boss with co-workers is an easy and common way to blow off steam and strengthen relationships — as long as it doesn’t become personal or all-consuming. I remember being a young associate editor early in my career hanging out with other colleagues and endlessly grumbling about an executive editor whom we rarely agreed with. At first, it was a little harmless chatter, but after a few years I realized that almost all of my after-work conversations revolved around my dislike for the policies of this one person. While there are many cases where a series of discussions with a colleague can help ease tensions, in this case, I found that my problems with this person were not necessarily about him but about the job itself.

Listen to your co-workers. Look around your office. Do others feel similarly disgruntled? As the financial resources site Money Under 30 says, “If you work at a company where your colleagues seem very content, healthy, and happy, then maybe you just aren’t the right fit.” Also, do you see colleagues leaving in bunches? If so, perhaps the problems are not just personal and may stem from bad corporate management that you would be wise to avoid. A change of jobs may not always be the solution, but your work environment should not be ignored. As the Money Under 30 researchers put it, “Regardless of your specific situation, if you work with unhappy people who hate their job and you, too are becoming an unhappy person who hates their job, it’s probably time to do something about it.”

Listen to your body. Do you find yourself catching colds more often? Are you not sleeping well or have low energy at work? If so, you may be suffering from chronic stress at your office. “If you spend 40 (or more) hours per week in a too-stressful environment, eventually your body’s defenses will weaken and your health will start to fade,” suggests Money Under 30. Illnesses such as viruses, heart disease, ulcers, diabetes and cancer have been linked to high-levels of prolonged stress. If you feel you’ve tried to ameliorate the triggers of these stresses at work, but they continue to reoccur, it’s probably best to move on. No job is worth ruining your health.

Randy Woods is a writer and editor in the Puget Sound business publishing arena and a veteran of the local job-search scene. Email him at