Everyone who has honorably served in the military has one thing in common- they didn’t quit. In fact, if you served honorably in the military, the fact that you didn’t quit says something about you. Think how easy it was to quit when you first joined the military. In fact, depending on the type of training you went through, the military actually tried to entice you to quit. But you stuck with it and you’re better for having stuck through the training.
The suck is something that every veteran has experienced. The military is fully of experiences that tested you and put you to your limits. Whether it was the ruck march that never ended which you drudged through, training that forced you to break through your mental barriers, or combat, most experiences reinforced the idea that if you just put your head down and keep “moving” you’d make it through. You were trained to never quit. (which might be why there is so much frustration expressed by career military against those who are getting out after a couple of tours…)
This never quit characteristic. This stick with it quality, is one of the greatest attributes that an employer can attach to a veteran. It’s one of our strengths. However, it is also one of our major weaknesses. You see, the suck in the military was always temporary. You had a finite time in which to put up with the suck. Your civilian career is much different.
Now don’t get me wrong. Every job will be frustrating at one point in time. Every job should challenge you. You are not going to love your job every day of the year. You will at some point out grow the job you are in and need to change your position or company. Don’t confuse the emotions that result from these normal job characteristics with a job that you need to leave.
In fact, one of the most frustrating aspects about a job and knowing when it’s time to move on is that a job which you loved can become a job that you need to leave. But unlike many of our non-veteran counterparts, veterans having been trained to endure the suck, having the stick-with-it quality reinforced by years in the military, stay in jobs that they should leave long after a non-veteran colleague would have moved on.
So how do you know when it’s time to move on? Here are some examples:
1) Being down about driving into your office:
Look, if you enjoyed what you did and enjoyed your colleagues you would want to get into the office, because it’s a place that you enjoyed being. Look I get that commutes can suck (I live in the 2nd worst area in the US for traffic), but there is a difference from not looking forward to a long commute and not looking forward to being in the office.
2) Your work frustrations continually follow you home:
Unlike the military, your work frustrations should stay in the office (whether in your home office or at the company’s office). Nobody wants to hear about how bad your day was at work, least of all you. But here’s the reality, we all have bad days at work and we will all need to get rid of a frustration or two at home (preferably by working out, but a dram or two of Scotch along with conversation works as well). However when you find yourself constantly needing to deal with work frustration at home, it’s time for you to start considering another position.
3) The standard you walk by, isn’t the standard that you want to accept:
To everyone who has grandiose visions of never having a boss in your life, let me dispel that myth for you, you will probably always have a boss. Sure the higher you climb up the professional ladder, the fewer people will be above you, but you will still always have bosses (not to mention colleagues) who maintain a standard in the workplace. While you should always try to make an office better, more efficient, etc. if you are constantly hitting an issue in which a proportion of your office is not maintaining the standard and your boss isn't actively working towards correcting these deficiencies (either through counseling or firing), it’s time to move on.
4) The whambulance is always present:
We’ve all heard this before “Don’t come to me with complaints, come to me with solutions.” If you manage people, you fully believe this mantra. However, never confuse the statement of a complaint with a lack of a desire by a co-worker or subordinate to figure out a solution to their complaint. In fact they might be bringing the complaint to you, in the hopes that you will help them brainstorm up some solutions. All that said, don’t confuse constant complaining with a desire to find a solution. Some people like to complain. Some offices encourage complaining rather than creating a solution (whether through passive mismanagement or active promotion). Unhappiness is a festering wound that is spread by constant complaining.
5) You’ve had enough:
This is usually the result of a combination of all of the examples above. However other things about your job can add up to make you feel as if you’ve had enough with your job. This is one of the most dangerous predicaments in which to find yourself. Many people will close themselves off and begin only doing the bare minimum that is necessary not to get fired. The reality is, doing the bare minimum, ruining your professional reputation is a quick way to find yourself stuck in a job that you can’t stand.